The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have today condemned plans to restrict universal preventative fire safety home checks to only those deemed ‘high-risk’. Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) have axed the universal aspect of the vital, fire prevention work firefighters do. The FBU fears that other services will follow suit.
Currently firefighters routinely visit households that request a check to give free fire safety advice, fit smoke alarms and check escape routes. Ministers and fire authorities have regularly stated that this preventative work has been a significant factor in the reduction of fires and fire fatalities.
Andy Dark, FBU assistant general secretary, warned that effectively using ‘means testing’ could put people off from applying for the checks. “Firefighters are here to protect the many, not the few”, he said. “How could fire and rescue services accurately know when someone moves from being deemed non-vulnerable to being high risk? People’s circumstances change all the time. Means testing could see people fall through the cracks.
“This is a step backwards for firefighters as we should be increasing our engagement with the public not reducing it. Firefighters are undertaking more work than ever by engaging with local communities, from helping to spot early signs of dementia, to undertaking health and well-being checks and fitting fire prevention equipment.
“This is sadly another example of services to the public being cut on top of closing fire stations, removing pumps, longer response times and smaller crews.”
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