Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Firefighters attend over 6,000 incidents during pandemic

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editor@newrytimes.com
Monday, June 22nd, 2020
Coronavirus

Firefighters have attended nearly 500 more incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic than they did during the same period in 2019.

Statistics released by NIFRS show that Firefighters responded to 6,294 incidents in March, April and May 2020, compared to 5,837 incidents in the same period in 2019.

 

 

At one point during lockdown Firefighters were responding to a 50% increase in accidental house fires, while there has also been a 76% increase in wildfires across Northern Ireland during March, April and May when compared to 2019. 

The rise in the total number of incidents that Firefighters attended comes despite a 60% drop in the number of road traffic collisions during the same time.

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NIFRS has managed to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on its front line services and deal with any additional pressure through diligent pre-planning and the introduction of a number of key measures at the beginning of the pandemic.

These early interventions helped minimise the impact of Covid-19 on the Fire & Rescue Service’s ability to respond to emergencies, whilst continuing to protect their employees and the community.

Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, Michael Graham, told Newry Times, “Like every organisation, we were faced with considerable challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while also managing a spike in the number of incidents we had to respond to.

 

 

“It is only due to careful planning and most importantly, the outstanding effort of all of our people that we have been able meet the demands for our service during this critical time. 

“We have dealt with over 6000 incidents, a considerable rise on 2019.

“This included major fires at Bombardier and Crumlin Road Court House.

“We also dealt with a 76% increase in the number of wildfire incidents we attended, with Firefighters attending 1,160 wildfires right across Northern Ireland, working in intense and difficult conditions for long periods of time.” 

Michael continued, “We’ve seen a difference in the types of incidents we’re attending, with a decrease in road traffic collisions because people are travelling less.

“However in March 2020 we saw a serious rise in the number of accidental dwelling fires as people spent more time at home in lockdown, with Firefighters attending 231 accidental house fires in March, April and May, with one person tragically losing their life.  

 

 

“Every single one of these incidents is something we are trying to avoid but I am pleased to say that the number of house fires we’re attending has been falling.

“During the pandemic, we’ve been working really hard with our partners, including the Department for Communities; to provide fire safety advice to people who need our help the most and I believe the decrease in the number of accidental house fires in the last few weeks reflect the positive outcome of that work,” he added.

At the beginning of the pandemic NIFRS had prepared a plan in anticipation of high numbers of COVID-19 related absences amongst its workforce.

By implementing specific measures early on, NIFRS has managed to so far avoid the very worst-case scenario and the associated impact on the service.

 

 

The organisation, however, continues to operate with extreme caution implementing strict preventative and protective measures to protect its people and the public.

 

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