We do not recognise the claims that have been made by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
To be clear, this is not an outbreak. One operational firefighter tested positive for Covid-19 on 25 July 2020. As a result, Test and Trace protocols have been implemented by Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).
All of the people identified through Test and Trace have been tested and were found to be negative but continue to self-isolate as per government guidelines. We are expecting the individuals who are self-isolating to be back to work from Monday 3 August.
Appropriate control measures and operational adjustments have been put in place. We have continued to attend every emergency and ensured enough fire appliances to meet demand. We have not been at contingency level or lower during this time. We have continued to achieve our response standard (first fire appliance within 10 minutes, second within 15 minutes).
We have reintroduced safety critical training courses such as breathing apparatus training. The service did consult with the FBU regarding control measures to ensure we were as safe as possible. In addition to this, a Health and Safety Representative, who was an FBU member, was seconded to enable this consultation to take place. The decision was made to reopen our training centre after consultation with the FBU.
Dave Nicholson, SFRS Group Commander Learning and Development said, “Comprehensive risk assessments are in place to undertake the full range of training activities. We have investigated the courses in question where individuals were found not to be in compliance with our existing risk assessments. The service has reiterated control measures that staff must follow.”
All staff are issued personal, reusable water bottles and can reorder these whenever they wish. They also have access to non-reusable plastic bottles of water on fire engines.
Staff have been reminded continuously of Covid-19 guidance, including information regarding social distancing. Facemasks are not required in classroom training sessions – this is both national and specific to SFRS guidance.
The service does recognise pandemics within official documents and strategies, our Making Surrey Safer Plan includes local and national Community Risk Registers which identifies risk we should be prepared for.
The advice is that if you are symptomatic, to get tested at the earliest opportunity and to not attend the workplace if you are showing any symptoms. Across our service, staff have worked hard to design and implement control measures and now it is imperative that these are maintained to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19.