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Chief Fire Officer's statement on COVID-19 - 2 June 2020

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Good afternoon,

I have been asked to speak today about the work of the IOMFRS  throughout the ongoing pandemic, at the very start we set 3 strategic priorities which were:

To continue to serve and protect the community of our Island.

To ensure the continued health, safety and well being of all the Island’s firefighters. 

To maintain a reasonable level of operational response to emergency incidents. 

What did we do: 

  • We activated an Internal Action Plan to monitor on a daily basis the rapidy changing situation facing our Island. 
  • At one point we had a 20% staff absence which was a real risk to our service delivery, gladly that has now improved.  
  • I continue to be in regular contact with the UK NFCC to ensure that I am up to date with the developing challenges affecting the 48 UK FRS, our assistance arrangements would come through the National Resilience Advisory Team if it had become necessary. 
  • We introduced different ways of working through social distancing, providing appropriate levels of PPE, remote working where possible, introducing revised operational procedures, and the increased use of social media to put out safety messages across the community. 
  • Operational training had to continue to maintain the core competencies of the firefighters across the Island’s fire stations. 
  • The readiness and maintaining of operational equipment is also an important factor as part of our service delivery.  
  • Fire safety work was based upon risk by using telephone communication, and on site inspections only if there was a serious risk of danger to life or property.
  • We have worked with others Departments such as the DHSC, DEFA, DfE – examples include providing support to the Ambulance Service through retired and serving firefighters, working in particular groups with the DfE to provide fire safety advice and future working around mental health and well-being for our community.
  • We have also worked with the Emergency Planning Officer to identify where the Service would assist if necessary, I would at this point acknowledge the excellent work of all the volunteer organisations that have and continue to assist the community throughout the pandemic.
  • Operational demand did decrease during late March and April by approximately 30%, however as the lockdown is easing demand upon our Service has started to increase.

It is fair to say that our Island has been blessed with settled weather for a number of weeks now, the wonderful sunshine and blue skies has shown its natural beauty and at times some of us may have thought we are living on a tropical Island such as Hawai or similar Islands across the world.

However, I must remind everyone that as we enjoy the great outdoors, the countryside and uplands are extremely dry. Recently we have dealt with a number of operational incidents such as grass fires, hedge fires, garden fires, out of control burning off incidents and fires caused by disposable barbeques being carelessly disposed of, to name but a few. These type of incidents can very quickly spread and can cause damage to our environment. 

One recent upland incident occurred on the Beary Mountain, a large amount of land was on fire and it took over 30 firefighters from 3 fire stations to bring it under control with a crew been in attendance for over 10 hours. As an Island fire service we do not have unlimited resources and a large wildfire can quickly affect our overall strategic resilience. Our counterparts in the UK are dealing with large moorland fires and forest fires which all create a huge demand upon resources. 

I therefore ask that you consider your actions when outdoors to reduce the demand upon our Service, please be responsible. Additionally advice and guidance is available on our FaceBook page or by contacting our Community Safety office on +44 1624 647303.

Thank you and keep safe.