Nearly 5,000 emergency calls and the Covid-19 pandemic all in a year's work for Northamptonshire firefighters
"This year as seen the service at its best," says county's Chief Fire Officer
Northamptonshire fire chief Darren Dovey says the Covid-19 pandemic has seen the "service at its best" despite fewer fires and road crashes to deal with during lockdowns.
Firefighters from the county's 22 stations from Oundle to Brackley attended 4,846 emergency calls in the year ending March 2021 with an average response time of a fraction over ten minutes.
But crews also turned in 339 shifts supporting the county's mortuaries — including a temporary site at Wollaston opened to cope with a rise in deaths during the pandemic — nearly 1,100 shifts working alongside East Midlands Ambulance staff and made nearly 3,000 pharmacy deliveries.
In his annual report, Mr Dovey revealed: "When the Prime Minister declared the first national lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service was already planning for the worst.
"We declared a major incident so that we could provide whatever support the community and our partners needed while carrying on with business as usual.
"During the year, we had to get involved in tasks we hoped we would never have to carry out.
"As an emergency service, many of our staff could not work from home and continued to come to the workplace to take 999 calls, respond to incidents, keep fire engines and equipment ready for use and carry out critical administrative functions that could not be done remotely.
"Many staff also volunteered to carry out extra duties such as driving ambulances, working to support the mortuaries, deliver medicines to those who were shielding and a raft of other logistical roles, all to ensure that lives were saved and the most vulnerable were helped.
"This last year has shown the Fire Service at its best and as the Chief Fire Officer, I am immensely proud of all my staff and the role they have played over the last year to keep people safe."
Out of more than emergency calls responded to more than 1,700 turned out to be false alarms while 527 were to fires which had been started deliberately. The 1,566 non-fire related calls included 352 road crashes and 250 floods.
Another 97 calls were to people locked in or out of properties and 68 were to help stuck animals — including a family of ducks in Towcester.
An incident last August where crews at Mereway station released a police officer stuck in his own handcuffs is probably listed under 405 "other" callouts.
Firefighters also responded to 68 'malicious' hoax calls.
Earlier this year, yobs pelted fire crews from Kettering and Rothwell with missiles after they attended a hoax 999 call claiming a three-storey building was on fire.
And last month, Northamptonshire's 999 services condemned an "abhorrent and malicious hoaxer" who reported a baby trapped in a four-vehicle crash.
Three crews of firefighters and paramedics were scrambled following the call which sent emergency services scurrying to Burton Latimer.
A spokesman for Northampton Fire & Rescue said: "Hoax calls waste valuable time and resources which could be needed at real emergencies where lives are in danger.
"We would urge people to think twice about the impact their hoax call could potentially have."