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PCSO becomes first on-call firefighter in Essex

A police community support officer (PCSO) from Essex has become the first in the county to train to become an On-Call firefighter, alongside her role in the police force.

PCSO Angi Greneski completed her training in September and now provides firefighter support for both Saffron Walden and Halstead.

The exploration of collaborative working between Essex Police and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) began in 2014, when both services wanted to push boundaries to achieve innovation within the blue light services.

Over two years of careful planning have meant that processes around the dual role arrangement are now clear and benefit both services.

On-Call firefighters must be able to get to their fire station within five minutes of being paged, which is why Angi provides firefighter cover at Saffron Walden during her working hours and Halstead when she is at home.

Although Angi provides 120 hours of On-Call availability a week to ECFRS and is released from Essex Police duties to attend fire calls, her full time employment still rests within her Essex Police contract.

The introduction of the dual role arrangement comes at a time when ECFRS is increasing its number of On-Call firefighters, and this collaboration could help achieve recruitment targets.

Although Angi is the first PCSO to provide joint services in this way, the concept of trading police personnel with fire services has already been taking place through other work, with ECFRS assisting Essex Police on jobs such as missing people searches and entering homes with people collapsed behind doors. 

Adam Eckley, Acting Chief Fire Officer, said:

We’re delighted that Angi has become an On-Call firefighter for the Service. This is testament to our commitment to working closer with our emergency service partners to keep our communities safe.

“On-Call firefighters play a vital role, both within Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and within their communities.

“It is a rewarding and challenging role. On-Call firefighters not only attend incidents they also get involved in a wide range of community safety activities including visiting schools and helping people stay safe in their homes by fitting smoke alarms and providing advice as part of our free home safety visit schemes.

Stephen Kavanagh, Chief Constable of Essex Police, said:

“Angi’s determination to use her skills to serve the people of Essex is an inspiration but also demonstrates the steps we’re taking with the fire service to work better together. With parish safety volunteers providing advice to our communities and joint working in schools talking to young people about safety, Angi’s commitment to public service is another example of how we’re working to put the public first.”

Both services hope to continue and develop the dual role arrangements in the future and are continuing to explore collaborative ways of working.

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