Northamptonshire firefighters taking 'extra shifts' to cover Covid-19 absences

Services in other areas of the country have been harder hit with one station completely unmanned in December

By Max Pearson
Thursday, 6th January 2022, 10:04 am

Firefighters from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service are having to take 'extra shifts' to cover absences from Covid-19 infections, as well as assisting other emergency services.

The news comes as infections from the virus have rapidly risen in recent days, driven largely by the more infectious 'Omicron' variant. This has left significant numbers unable to work while they self isolate.

Darren Dovey, Chief Fire Officer of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Like every other organisation, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service is being affected by the Covid surge, with higher levels of sickness than we would normally experience.

A mix of infections and self-isolation have forced the service to cut back in certain areas

“We actively manage our resources on a daily basis and we are able to maintain the availability of appliances and fire cover across the county.

"We are also supporting other agencies in the county with their Covid response, assisting both the ambulance service and with mortuary work.

“To protect our emergency response, we have stopped some of our training and some of our prevention work as we are aware of the impact on our staff, who are having to take extra shifts to ensure we can continue to protect the public in the usual way.”

Fire services in other areas of the country have been hit harder.

Gosport fire station in Hampshire was left with no rostered firefighters available at all on the night of December 28, requiring other firefighters to come from another fire station to cover there.

The incident was reported as part of a wider pattern of shortages in the area, thought to be related to Covid-19.

Numerous fire stations were left short-staffed on three more days from December 28 to January 2.

This went so far as to leave multiple fire engines unavailable, seeing a peak on December 28, with five engines unavailable.

Similarly, the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) in London has reported that nearly ten percent of operational firefighters are off either sick with the virus or because they are self isolating, as of December 17.

Up to a third of all fire engines in London have been taken out of action as a result of the shortages.

As Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the UK, with 1 in 25 people believed to be infected, according to Government statistics, shortages like these are likely to continue for some time.