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Cumbria’s firefighters praised for work during COVID-19 pandemic

Cumbria’s fire service has been praised for its support of the community during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services carried out an inspection of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service in August to assess how the service was performing during the COVID-19 crisis.

The inspectorate concluded the service had adapted and responded “effectively”.

It said the service continued to respond to emergencies while demonstrating they were ready, willing and able to provide support to local communities through a number of additional activities.

Inspectors also noted that Cumbria Fire and Rescue staff, kitted out with personal protective equipment, continued to carry out safe and well visits to some of Cumbria’s most vulnerable people in their homes during the pandemic.

The inspection found that:

  • Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service managed resources well. As well as its own incidents, the service was able to support neighbouring services with significant incidents during the pandemic.
  • It communicated well, with good staff engagement including virtual online meetings and video blogs
  • Good welfare support was provided to staff during the crisis
  • Inspectors said it was a “notable achievement” that Cumbria FRS continued to run a wholetime firefighter recruitment process during the pandemic, using remote learning before safely bringing recruits together for more traditional training.

John Beard, Cumbria County Council’s chief fire officer, said: “I welcome the inspection report for Cumbria which recognises the fantastic work of my colleagues to support our communities during the pandemic.

“I’m especially pleased the Inspectorate noted how quickly the Service adapted to new ways of working and took on a greater role in the community by supporting our other blue light services and partner agencies in Cumbria.”

Councillor Janet Willis, Cumbria County Council cabinet member for fire and rescue, said: “The inspection report is a testament to how well Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service has risen to the challenge and how our staff have gone above and beyond to keep our communities safe during the pandemic.

“There is hardly a week goes by when I do not receive comments of praise and appreciation for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service from someone, whether that be their county council colleagues or members of the public.”