Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


999 Day - Meet Lisa, fire service community safety officer and RNLI volunteer

As part of #999Day, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is highlighting its staff that wear more than one uniform to protect their communities.  

Lisa Mitson has worked with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service for eight years as an Education Officer and now as a Community Safety Officer. Her role sees her out and about in the community giving safety advice about a range of topics including home fire safety and water safety to help make Essex a safer place to live, work and travel. 

As a fire and rescue service, ECFRS works to keep people safe in and around water and Lisa works to prevent people getting into difficulty in the water.  

In her free time, Lisa is a water safety ambassador in Tendring with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and has given her time over the last two years to spread water safety advice across her community. 

This role has helped equip her with a wealth of water safety advice that she shares with members of the public and has benefitted her in her day job where she can further share her water safety advice. 

As part of her voluntary role, Lisa has learned lifesaving skills including how to use a throw line to save somebody struggling in the water. In her role with the RNLI, she helped to form a partnership with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service to deliver throw line training sessions to her fire service colleagues who in turn can deliver awareness sessions to waterside pubs and venues. 

With 350 miles of coastline across Essex, there are many venues dotted along coasts and rivers in Essex and national data suggests that consuming alcohol contributed to accidental drownings in the UK.   

In 2019, 223 people in the UK drowned and data across the UK suggests that half of all people who drown never intended to enter the water. 

With this in mind, Lisa worked closely with the RNLI to receive throw line training to deliver to awareness sessions to colleagues across our Fire Service and licensed venues across Essex.  

During an awareness session, staff at licensed premises are taught how to calm somebody down who is in the water, how to throw a throw line to help save the person and how to keep a person safe and well until the arrival of the emergency services.  

Since receiving the training, Lisa has passed on this awareness to other colleagues in the Fire Service and so far the Service has delivered awareness sessions to six waterside venues across Essex on how to use a throw line to help save someone’s life.   

Lisa said: “The biggest and the most important thing we tell our licensees to do is to stop the casualty panicking and to remain calm themselves.  

“Our delivery equips them with the confidence to take the lead in saving a person by keeping them calm and explaining how they can grab the throw line should they be in trouble in the water.”  

Lisa has dedicated her career to helping to keep Essex safe having spent 13 years working with Essex Police before working for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.  

On top of her busy day job and RNLI role, Lisa also volunteers her time to phone vulnerable and isolated people living in Essex through Community 360, a Colchester based charity that helps to improve people’s lives in North Essex.  

Alongside several other fire service staff, Lisa spent every week during the first lockdown phoning vulnerable people and has continued the voluntary role.  

Lisa said: “It’s very rewarding, I have five friends that I call at a set time each week and they’re all elderly and isolated people that have been shielding on their own.  

“It’s a lifeline for them when I call and when I found out one of my friends would be alone on Christmas Day, I made sure to call and check in with her. I’ve had lots of nice experiences while phoning my friends because I’ve got to know them. I’ve formed a close friendship with one particular client and we will carry on being friends when the world opens up a bit more and starts to return to normal.” 

Calls are scheduled for the same time each week and Lisa fits her calls into her busy day job and personal life, often leaving early for appointments so can drive to where she needs to be to fit a phone call in first. She then reports back to Community 360 with any welfare concerns for her friends.  

To learn more about the emergency services working to keep Essex safe, follow the hashtags #EssexUnites, #StaySafeEssex and #999Day. 

Page last updated 9 September, 2021

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