Coronavirus: Fire Service cancels home safety checks

Ballymena Fire Station.

HOME fire safety checks have been cancelled by the Fire Service.

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has announced a number of measures to help protect employees and maintain its ability to respond to emergency incidents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The protective measures includes suspending face-to-face fire prevention activities such as school visits, community engagement sessions, engagement with older people and Home Fire Safety Checks.

NIFRS is keen to reassure the public that although it cannot deliver community safety programmes “face to face” that fire safety advice will still be available to everyone via specialist Prevention and Protection Teams.

These teams are based in Belfast, Ballymena, Portadown and Derry/Londonderry. By phoning 02892664221 and providing your details you will be contacted by one of the teams to discuss your queries and circumstances and fire safety advice will then be provided to you over the telephone.

Up until now firefighters actually attended properties.

A section on the Fire Service website had previously said: ‘A Home Fire Safety Check is a visit to the home to provide advice on how to stay safe from fire.

‘Each visit will be carried out by at least two staff from Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) who will be wearing NIFRS uniform and will carry a NIFRS photographic identification card.

‘During the visit they will either fit a smoke alarm or show you how to test your existing smoke alarm, explain the potential fire risks in your home, provide fire safety advice and explain the importance of having a night time fire safety routine and a fire escape plan. The visit will take up to 40 minutes.’

Meanwhile, other measures introduced by the Fire Service because of coronavirus include:

  • Community events, public access and public meetings on any NIFRS property have been suspended.
  • NIFRS Youth engagement activities are suspended including their Fire Cadet Programme, and Princes Trust partnership delivery.
  • The delivery of Risk Based Fire Safety Audit Programme has been amended with audits only delivered on a prioritised high risk to life basis.
  • Off Station emergency training exercises and non-essential training suspended.
  • Restricted access to NIFRS Regional Control Centre.

Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer Alan Walmsley, NIFRS, said: “These are unprecedented and challenging times and the health and wellbeing of our employees is of primary importance.

“This is why we have taken these difficult decisions – to help protect our people and keep them safe.

“We all have a responsibility to ensure we are playing our part to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus and to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

“We have regularly been updating our employees and sign posting them to the most up to date information as the situation evolves to help keep them safe.

“We are continuing to engage via the Civil Contingencies Group NI, Department of Health and Public Health Agency to monitor and respond to the situation. NIFRS COVID-19 Gold Command Group are meeting regularly and we have enacted these measures to also help ensure we can maintain a level of service delivery that is prioritised to fulfil our critical functions.

“I would like to reassure the community that we have contingency measures in place to help ensure that we can continue to respond to emergency incidents and support partner agencies as and when required.

“I am asking all our Partner organisations, who we work with in protecting people at risk from fire in our community, to continue to make referrals to us through the existing partnership arrangements.

“This will help us identify people who need our help the most so we can deliver fire safety advice again to these individuals over the telephone.

“Fire safety information, which will be useful to everyone, but especially to those who may be self-isolating, is available on and on our social media platforms.

“As it is likely that over the next while people will be spending more time in their homes, we would like to reiterate the importance of fire safety in the home, and following the STOP Fire Message- S- have a Smoke alarm on every floor of your home; T- Test your smoke alarms weekly; O- be aware of the Obvious dangers in your home; and P- Plan your escape route, should a fire occur.

“Anyone who is concerned for their own or someone else’s home fire safety should contact NIFRS HQ on 02892664221”

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