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Humberside Fire Prepared For Second Wave Of Coronavirus

Humberside Fire Prepared For Second Wave Of Coronavirus

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Joe Gerrard at 8:14am 29th June 2020.

Humberside Fire and Rescue is prepared for a potential second wave of coronavirus, one of its chief officers has said.

Councillors on the Humberside Fire Authority heard the possibility of another outbreak occurring later this year had already been included in the service’s wider pandemic planning.

They were also told the service is preparing for a more relaxed attitude to lockdown as rules continue to ease but that returning to normal too quickly was risky.

The authority’s chief executive Chris Blacksell said low staff absence rates and actions taken including delivering more than one million items of PPE showed the service could respond to a second wave.

But the officer said the outbreak had taken its toll on some staff, shown by a rise in requests for occupational and mental health support.

Mr Blacksell said:

“We’ve planned for a second wave but there’s been no information from government or elsewhere to lead us to expect one.

As an emergency service a lot of our work is around emergency planning, we plan for the worst and hope for the best.

We’re in a far better way now to deal with a second wave, we’re in a great place to respond.

One of the messages we put out to staff at the start of the outbreak was that we wanted to look back in generations to come and be proud of what we did. I think we’ve achieved that.

Staff wellbeing has been at the heart of what we’ve done and that shows through our absence rates which were less than half the UK average.

We’re still responding to coronavirus now, we haven’t completely stopped yet but we are returning a little bit more to normal.

We did see a rise in requests from staff for support, including for mental health issues.

Something we’re thinking about going forward is whether staff on our engines would have to wear face masks to comply with the government’s test and trace policy. We’re also sticking to the two meter social distancing rules for now.

The lockdown has become more relaxed and the way the public is acting has changed. There is a risk of returning back to normal too quickly.”

Councillors at the meeting also heard fire fighters had been rediverted away from normal duties to help during the pandemic.

Fire Authority Chair Cllr John Briggs said he was “amazed” at all the work the service had done throughout the pandemic.

Cllr Briggs said:

“I’m so proud and amazed by all the work across our counties. Fire Minister Kit Malthouse has told us we’re doing a great job.

Whether it’s delivering masks or food, we’ve adapted our services and we are ready for a second wave.”

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