PROPOSALS for firefighters to get involved in missing people rescues and more medical emergencies to provide support to their blue-light colleagues have been criticised by a union boss.
Essex’s police, fire and crime commissioner Roger Hirst revealed at a meeting in Colchester last week he would like to see even closer collaboration between emergency services.
During a trial period, firefighters were tasked to cardiac arrests in a bid to get patients seen quicker.
And Mr Hirst said plans for more joint working would be included in a new Fire and Rescue Plan draft which is set to be released in the coming weeks.
But Fire Brigade Union secretary Alan Chinn-Shaw hit out at the the proposals saying anytime firefighters aren’t on call should be spent training, not responding to emergencies they are not properly qualified to deal with.
He said: “Overall we are not enthusiastic about co-responding because it is papering over the cracks over an underfunded ambulance service.
“They wanted to give us the minimal training to go out and respond but a lot of the time we would get to the incident and did not have the skill, training or equipment to help.
“It put firefighters in an incredibly difficult situation.
“There were lots of calls we were sent to where it was clear the ambulance service were fairly confident the patient had already died.
“If a retained fire crew get paid every time they are mobilised if we started going out to cardiac arrests then more funding will have to come because of increased costs.
“And if you look at busy stations like Colchester, if this happens there will be a time when crews are at a medical call and are not able to get to a fire call.”
At a meeting of Essex’s fire and crime panel chief fire officer Jo Turton said talks were on going at a national level about what sort of incidents firefighters attended.
She said: “They need to be mobilised to the right type of incidents where they can use their skills, experience and wisdom.”