A three-strong team based at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue’s headquarters in Stone has revealed how they’re doing all they can to make sure the service’s fire crews are equipped with everything they need to deal with call outs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Because if we can’t do that work then ultimately the ability of the service to act in its full capacity is at risk. We have a finite number in our back up supplies so it’s vital we keep on top of the testing and the maintenance of all this equipment.
The BA Maintenance Department work throughout the year in ensuring every piece of equipment used by the county’s firefighters – from air lifting units, breathing apparatus and hoses to the batteries used in torches – is working correctly.
To ensure they keep up the standard that’s expected, department manager Mike Williams has revealed they’re having to adapt.
“It has certainly made our job more difficult. I think I speak for everyone in the organisation and throughout the country in that this pandemic and lockdown has created a headache for us.
“For example, let us just concentrate on the maintenance of breathing apparatus. In order for us to repair a BA set we have to first diagnose why it’s not working as it should - we do this by using test devices. They basically breathe for us while we run numerous tests on the kit. However, once we’ve run these tests we ultimately have to put the set on and conduct a general test.
“The problem with that is that if one of us has Covid-19 and we don’t know it then we could easily spread the disease unknowingly - as we have to put the face masks on whilst testing, the worry over the disease creates a lot of questions for us. What’s the safest way to test the kit? How is it best to go about business as usual?
“What we’ve had to do is really look at how we clean and disinfect everything we touch before it is put back on the appliances. This creates more work and takes up more time.
“This isn’t helped by the fact we’ve not actually been able to have all three of us in due to illness and self-isolation. I, as manager, should be concentrating on policy, procedure and ordering parts but am faced with reverting to a technician role to help out. It’s difficult as I’m spinning a lot of plates all at the same time.
“It’s making out job more difficult but definitely not impossible – and that’s down to the support we’ve been getting from the rest of the service. I’ve been able to call upon colleagues to help out with testing which has been great in ensuring we continue the work that we do.
“Because if we can’t do that work then ultimately the ability of the service to act in its full capacity is at risk. We have a finite number in our back up supplies so it’s vital we keep on top of the testing and the maintenance of all this equipment.
“The public expect any fire crew who turns up to a house fire or road traffic collision to have everything they need to perform the task at hand. Our colleagues can’t do that if we fall behind so we thrive on the pressure of pulling through on the work we do so that those on the ground can continue to do the job they do so well.
“Currently, we’re dealing well with the workload and I’m confident we will be able to keep it up during the lockdown. As I’ve said before we’ve got tremendous support across the service and that’s helped. It’s what a time like this is all about – people pulling together for the greater good. It’s great to see and be a part of.”