The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) say they have voted to reduce the number of visits made to burning homes by fire and rescue crews saying they no longer have the capacity to meet demand and members of the Fire Brigades Union have voted overwhelming to end the ancient practice of attending fires at people’s homes, arguing it was outdated and a waste of precious resources.
FBU representatives will lobby the Government in an attempt to stop future home visits by the Fire and Rescue Services being a contractual obligation, while the NFCC plan to renegotiate the current deal, removing the old home-visit call out and replacing it with a less inclusive, case by case alternative.
Although the plan is to reduce most home visits by 2025, the Fire Brigade would still attend house fires that affected people with serious palliative conditions, the vulnerable and anyone considered at most risk, and the very rich.
The practice of firemen attending fires goes back to 1865 when the London Fire Brigade was established. But NFCC say switching to on-line consultations with people in their own homes would help streamline and modernise the service, with nearly two-fifths of UK residents aged 22-35 already accessing most thing digitally. Offering them a more consumer focused, app-savy alternative to fire engines is now seen as the most sensible way forward.
‘Teleconsultations are the future’ agreed NFCC representative Jason Beesley, ‘most fires in the home could be dealt with digitally…..whether it’s a chip pan on fire or your sofa going up in flames or your cat stuck up a tree…..we could talk home owners through the process of tackling the incident. Or they could simply ask for one of our self-help brochures…which you can also order on-line.
‘This will help free up valuable time and allow full-time firemen to get on with more important day-to-day activities ….like their window-cleaning rounds or golf handicaps. Or you could always go private’.