Posted: Fri 7th Feb 2020

Firefighters across Wales could support NHS services as part of new Welsh Government vision

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Feb 7th, 2020

Firefighters across Wales could be given a wider role in keeping people safe as part of new proposals unveiled by the Welsh Government today.

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn, says there is a “clear potential” for the three fire services across Wales to “make a real contribution to supporting the NHS.”

This could be by responding to medical emergencies or helping to prevent accidents.

The future vision comes as the Welsh Government say that firefighters in Wales have been so successful in reducing both the incidence and severity of fire, that the service has become “increasingly under-occupied in many parts of Wales.”

As a result the Welsh Government state that many rural fire stations now respond to only a handful of fires a month. This is making it difficult to recruit and retain the on-call firefighters on which most of Wales relies, and risks jeopardising the sustainability of the Service in rural areas.

In a statement Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn said: “I would like to thank our Fire and Rescue Services in Wales for their continued success in reducing both the incidence and severity of fire.

“I have little doubt that this success is partly due to the great emphasis that the Fire Service places on preventing fire and improving awareness of fire risks.

“Firefighters are highly trained to deal with a wide range of incidents besides fires, and have the expertise and respect to raise awareness of and prevent non-fire threats too.

“There is clear potential for the service to make a real contribution to supporting the NHS in particular, whether in terms of responding to medical emergencies or helping to prevent accidents like falls at home; and clear evidence that this can secure better outcomes and significant savings.

“There are many impressive examples of this happening, but they are often small-scale and piecemeal.

“I believe we need to go further, and to do so more consistently and strategically. I want to see a Fire and Rescue Service which deals with a range of threats to people’s health and safety, both in terms of prevention and emergency response, complementing not duplicating the work of other professionals.

“Only by doing so can we maximise the Service’s public value and secure a sustainable future for it.

“There is real potential to capitalise on the success the Service has already achieved and to maximise its value to the people of Wales.”

A further announcement is expected in the near future, however it is acknowledged that such a vision would require an agreement on firefighters’ pay and conditions which fairly reflects a broader role.

It is also noted that there needs to be a “robust and strategic agreement” between the Fire Service, the NHS and other partners, so that the former’s resources can be deployed where they are most needed.

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