FBU calls for priority COVID-19 testing for firefighters
With approximately 12% of firefighters and control room staff self-isolating in some areas, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is calling for the UK Government to provide “urgent coronavirus testing of its members so they can return to work”.
With up to 3,000 fire and rescue staff in the UK currently under isolation conditions, officials are warning this could lead to lives being put at greater risk, with the ability to respond to fire-related emergencies and assist with the coronavirus outbreak being significantly reduced.
This news comes not long after it was announced that the London Fire Brigade has joined up with the London Ambulance Service as part of a ‘blue light partnership’ designed to tackle COVID-19. This will mean firefighters helping with a number of roles across the ambulance service, such as driving vehicles and assisting paramedics under direction from trained medical staff.
The FBU has said that England is now the only nation in the UK to not make a commitment to test its firefighter members for coronavirus, with programmes planned in Scotland and Wales, and testing already underway in Northern Ireland.
A spokesperson for the Government has said “it is working with fire chiefs to ensure they have the support they need.”