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Fire Service reflects on a busy 2020

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has released its end of year stats as it reflects on what it has achieved during 2020.  

Covering data from 1 January 2020 to the beginning of December the headlines offer an insight into the huge amount of work Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) has achieved during a difficult year.  


Responding to incidents 

From 1 January 2020 to the beginning of December ECFRS attended over 14,000 incidents, with the first major one happening just a few days into the new year.  

Firefighters were called to a large incident involving a chemical leak at an industrial site in West Thurrock. Crews from 28 fire stations along with 24 fire officers attended the incident and worked alongside partner organisations and site-staff in a co-ordinated response lasting almost 24 hours. 

In July ECFRS spent 20 days at an incident at a grain depot in Tilbury after a fire started in a silo. Firefighters worked alongside site engineers, scientific advisors and other partner agencies to extinguish the fire, monitor the scene, keep people safe and minimise the impact the incident had on the grain site. 

August saw a large industrial warehouse destroyed by fire in Basildon over the bank holiday, with around 100 firefighters working hard to stop it spreading.  

In addition to these large incidents firefighters have extinguished countless fires, rescued people and animals from a huge variety of situations and supported partner organisations and emergency services across the county and beyond.  


Recruitment 

In August ECFRS launched a wholetime firefighter recruitment campaign and announced it would be recruiting for at least 18 months.  

To date, almost 1500 people have applied for the role and it is expected many more will continue to do so before the process closes next year. These applicants are making their way through the application process and the first squad of successful applicants start their training in January 2021.  

Since 2020 began 55 wholetime firefighters, 59 on-call firefighters, 2 control officers and 46 support staff have joined the Service.


Continuing to deliver services 

With prevention and protection a major priority, teams worked quickly to find other ways to provide vital services when the pandemic prevented them from working in their usual ways.  

Despite county-wide lockdowns and Covid restrictions, this year almost 5000 people received a home safety visit in the form of a full visit, drop off alarms and doorstep advice or over the phone advice. 

Reaching school-aged children is also a priority and ECFRS’s education team quickly moved their education hub online, engaging with 489 schools and resulting in 39,582 pupils still receiving education advice. 

Safety messages were key throughout the year, with data suggesting house and garden fires were more likely as people spent more time at home. ECFRS quickly created bespoke covid safety campaigns and worked alongside partners to share messages and reach the public.

ECFRS’s digital channels continue to be a key tool when informing the public about safety and incident information, with 1.5million website views since the beginning of the year, alongside 8,800 messages received through social media channels. 


Working above and beyond in times of difficulty 

In addition to their day-job, ECFRS colleagues always work above and beyond to support the County. 

ECFRS was one of the first Services to provide firefighters as ambulance drivers – with 19 on-call firefighters providing thousands of hours of support. ECFRS even went one step further and trained other drivers using their own training team.

Staff from across the Service also delivered ssential items to vulnerable people, helped move PPE to where it was needed and set up community hospitals.


Jo Turton, Chief Fire Officer / Chief Executive Officer, said: 

“Throughout a global pandemic, our service maintained a reliable and sustainable fire and rescue service that Essex can be proud of.

“Among some of the darkest days we've seen so many positive stories too, including our staff volunteering to help other emergency services and support the most vulnerable people in our County.

“We've also continued delivering our protection and prevention services in alternative ways and we thank everyone we've worked with for being so flexible and open to change.

“The wellbeing of our staff was at the heart of everything we did, and to be able to move so quickly to make Covid safe workplaces and equip staff with new ways to do their work has been invaluable to our colleagues and the communities we serve.

“I want to thank our communities for the continued support they give to all of us at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. 2021 is already looking like a busy year to us, as we continue to adjust to the new normal and as always, work to make Essex a safe place to live, work and travel.” 

If you’re interested in joining Essex County Fire and Rescue Service visit join.essex-fire.gov.uk to see all current vacancies  

If you’d like to stay up to date with news from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service you can sign up to an online newsletter by visiting essex-fire.gov.uk/signup 

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