Implementation of Fire Safety to Protect Vulnerable Welfare

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Introduction

This report has been created to outline methods which can increase community fire safety within the West Midlands (WMFS). They will be discussed in great depth, exploring all avenues and explaining how they would work not only theoretically but practically as well. Since it is the second major Fire and Rescue service in the country, coming after the London Fire Brigade, community fire safety is a vital in protecting the 2.8 million residents who exist within West Midlands. The first approach will be based around implementing a mandatory welfare check by trained fire safety officers, followed by a cohabitating fire station which collaborates both fire and ambulance crews, followed by the idea of applying a safety squad within the West Midlands which targets educating children on fire safety.

Method 1 – Mandatory Welfare Check

The first method to discuss is the implementation of Mandatory welfare checks by Fire Safety Officers for vulnerable people. From research into West Midlands Fire Service detail, has been learnt about what they currently offer, which is safety checks to people via appointments made over the phone, and ensured they have enlisted all1,322 fire officers into training which will allow them to have the skills which would help them deliver basic health and safety messages. ‘There are clear links between poor health and the risk of fire. That’s why we focus so much of our prevention work on keeping our more vulnerable residents safe and well.’ (West Midlands Fire Service. (2016). This statement from the official WMFS website explains how passionate the service is in trying to eradicate the fire risk with vulnerable people, However, my implementation would further this to make safety and welfare checks a priority to people who possess 3 or more of the following, physical and mental attributes: Weight, Problems Dementia Drug, Alcohol Addiction Unemployment, Hoarding, History of Mobility Issues, Including Falls Loneliness and Social Isolation

How to Access Information

The Fire Service will be able to access such information from interacting with NHS figures and statistics, this could be information regarding persons, physical / mental condition. For example, if a patient has just been discharged from hospital following a fall and is going back to their house which is notorious for hoarding as well as being unemployed, then the hospital can get in touch with WMFS and request that they do a safety check on that persons.

Main Target Audience

The main target audience for this approach would be the mass population of vulnerable people within the West Midlands, from further research I found that a town within the WMFS derestriction called Dudley has had an increase to 5,275 of the amount of people claiming benefits. (N/A. 2015) This shows that in this certain town the risk of vulnerable people would have increased and may have caused a red flag in the West Midlands Fire Service Safety.

What It Would Mean for

The implementation of my idea in which vulnerable people will be given mandatory welfare checks, will benefit the occupant massively as it will allow them to be given a home visit by a trained Fire Officer and have them highlight any risk, this could be a direct fire risk, such as a faulty smoke alarm, or a risk to the occupant’s health and safety in general such as malnourishment. Another way in which the Fire Service may be able to identify vulnerable people of the cusp of statistics is through housing figures and looking at notorious hoarders, hoarding is something which is popular among elderly people again who have a lot of memories, and things they cannot get rid of, through looking at the statistics from the Government or previous Fire Safety checks it will help the Officers to gain more information on the vulnerable person at risk.

Intended Outcome for Stakeholders

The intended outcome for stakeholders would be a reduced number of incidents that the West Midlands Fire Service respond to which include vulnerable people. One way in which this can be measured and therefore identified to see how it is working is by looking at statistics before this method is implemented and then looking at them after a year of it being implemented and compare them, and if there is a change in the amount of incidents that WMFS were called to which involved a vulnerable person at home then they will be able to see if it has worked or not. If the figures have decreased since the implementation then it is obvious that the method is working, on the other hand if the figures have stayed the same or decreased then it shows that the method has not been successful.

The death rates of people over the age of 80 and over being considerably higher than any other age group for 7 years straight, the elderly here are an example of vulnerable people due to their age they could be less mobile and could suffer from further physical / mental problems. With information like this fire safety officers will be able to target the elderly to address any issues they could possess and therefore decrease the figures increasing in future years. (Home Office. (2017).

Method 2 – Cohabitation of Fire and Ambulance

The next method is the merging of Ambulance crews within Fire Stations, within the West Midlands there are over 35 Fire stations which house over 1,900 employees and cover an area consisting of over 2.8 million residents. The West Midlands Ambulance service has over 63 sites and over 4,400 members of staff, these crews respond to nearly half a million incidents every year. If each fire station in the West Midlands was to house an Ambulance crew as well as their Fire crews, it could mean there is an increase in efficiency within their emergency responses. This is because if the fire crews and ambulance crews are housed together in the same station, they are likely to build working relationships which will be advantageous to the services in rescues due to a bridge of trust and open communication by both firefighters and paramedics which would be hard to maximise if they only saw each other on call outs and not every day at the station. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue are a brigade which have implemented this for their station in Wigan. “The station will replace the existing fire station in Robin Park Road in the centre of Wigan and will see firefighters and paramedics work side by side from the site.” (Greater Manchester Fire Service. 2017)

How Can This Method Be Measured

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One way in which this method could be measured regarding success is through looking at statistics and figures of previous incidents where fire crews and ambulance crews were not familiar, and if there is a clear improvement in time taken to respond and offer professional help to the patients then it could be a success. However, unless interviews are taken place with crew members this improvement could be a coincidence and may have no part in the implementation of this method. Interviews with staff is another way in which would allow the success of this merger to be measured, this is because if Fire crews and Ambulance crews are both questioned and asked their opinion on how they think that the cohabitation of the two services combined is working, they will be able to give honest feedback to what they think. If this information showed that crews were hostile with each other and did not engage in a working relationship then it would show that the implementation was not a success, however as mentioned above if the results show positive feedback from both crews, and this was evident by the results on responses, then it could be identified as being a success.

Intended Outcome for Stakeholders

One important stakeholder for this method would be the Government, the reason why this method would be applicable to the Government is since if this was implemented it would save a lot of money which the Government could then recycle back to the emergency services to use for better equipment or training programmes for first line responders. Within the West Midlands there are a range of fire stations that have empty bays, this is where pumps used to be stationed but due to cuts in public services funds they have been disbanded. Now there are stations across the region with bays that have no appliance in, if this method was to be used, Ambulances could take refuge in these empty bays which could mean that the Government may be able to close a few Ambulance stations across the West Midlands, which would save a considerable amount of money.

How to Access Information

One type of way in which WMFS could research deeper into how this method would affect the nearby residents and stakeholders, is to deploy a questionnaire out to the immediate community. Doing this will enable the Fire Service to gain an insight into how the community around the station feel about having a combined station in which Fire and Ambulance work from. WMFS could also hold information evenings a few nights a week where members of the community could pop down to the station and hear how this method would be implemented and what it would mean for them, for example.

Method 3 – Safety Squad 4.1 – What it is

The final method which could be considered regarding improving fire safety within the West Midlands, is to implement a “Safety Squad”. (Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. (2016) This is a method which is used within the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and involves a range of organisations whom come together to increase awareness around key issues with the hope that this acquired knowledge will keep the children and young people in the community safe. The way in which they deliver this is through presentations to school children, these are predominantly presented to children around year 5 and 6 and are based around the following topics; Alcohol and Drug Consciousness, Road Safety, Fire Safety, Personal Safety.

Intended Outcome for Stakeholders

Due to its popularity with young people within the region, it would suggest that the execution of this within the West Midlands would be an excellent way to educate the next generation on fire safety. Families would be an important stakeholder with this system, reason being that if WMFS deliver an informative presentation to the children at school, then they are likely to go home and tell their parents about what they have learnt. This could benefit the safety at home which parents are responsible for as it could enlighten them on certain issues which they did not believe to be fire risks.

How to Measure It

One way in which WMFS could see whether this method was a success would be too send some work sheets to the schools / groups where they had recently delivered a fire safety presentation and see how the children answer the questions. By doing this they will be able to improve on future presentations as well as see what they are doing right, and what information is being retained by the children the most. They can offer rewards such as vouchers which could act as an incentive for the children to put 100% into the quiz and not take it lightly.

What This Implementation Could Mean

The busiest city in the West Midlands region is Birmingham, this is the busiest and the biggest and can be a nightmare for the Fire and Rescue services with the amount of call outs they can get in a day. With this implementation WMFS could target primary schools in less privileged places, this would narrow their fire safety messages down to children and families whom really need it and could play a part in decreasing the amount of emergency calls they get to specific areas, this can also be measured by seeing if incidents decrease in areas where fire safety officers have targeted delivering their fire safety messages.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the methods that have been mentioned in this report are all important and can offer WMFS different levels of intervention into their community and how they can improve the community safety in certain areas within their derestriction. Mandatory fire safety visits would be an implementation which would help decrease the number of vulnerable people who reside in defenceless living conditions. Furthermore the execution of a safety squad and a cohabitating fire station will also increase the possibility of West Midlands Fire service improving the level of community fire safety that is embedded within the population of the region. 6.0 Recommendations

Implementing a mandatory vulnerable welfare visit would possibly decrease the number of incidents that WMFS respond to regarding people in a vulnerable state, this could be physically, mentally or socially. By delivering fire safety messages to children at a young but aware age, it could mean they pass on the message to family and friends, thus spreading the message as well as retaining the vital information themselves. The cohabitation of Fire and Ambulance would allow money to be saved funding empty bays in fire stations and extra Ambulance stations as well as allowing working relationships to be built which will increase morale and therefore productivity on call outs.

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