UK Fire Brigades Drafted to Transport Bodies If Coronavirus Crisis Worsens
British firemen have been drafted into the fight against coronavirus to deliver food and medicines, drive ambulances, and retrieve bodies.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has agreed to emergency measures to support other blue-light first responder units and civilian activities for a duration of at least two months. There are around 48,000 firemen and emergency control operators across the country.
FBU General-Secretary Matt Wrack said in comments reported by ITV: “We face a public health crisis unparalleled in our lifetimes. The coronavirus outbreak is now a humanitarian emergency and firefighters rightly want to help their communities.
“Firefighters are fantastic at teamwork, are experienced in driving emergency vehicles and, as a service rooted in the community, may be best placed to deliver essential items to the most vulnerable,” he said.
“Many fear the loss of life in this outbreak could be overwhelming — and firefighters, who often handle terrible situations and incidents, are ready to step in to assist with body retrieval.”
The announcement comes as the London Ambulance Service and Scotland Yard have asked staff who have recently gone into retirement or who have left the services to return to the frontline. Retired and former firemen have also been asked to return.
Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner Cressida Dick said on Friday: “On behalf of London, and all the men and women of the Met, it is important that we take all reasonable steps to bolster our numbers.
“Demands on us will grow and vary over the coming weeks but I want people to know and see that the Met is here for them. We must maintain our operational resilience and continue to provide the best possible service to London.
“Police officers overwhelmingly join ‘the job’ to help people and to make a difference, and that desire will be as strong today as it was the very first day they joined.
“I am hopeful that these exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable former colleagues choose to come and be part of our team and support London at this extraordinary time – either as a re-employed police officer, special constable or a volunteer.”
Even if emergency services are able to increase numbers, those on the frontline are at risk of catching coronavirus themselves, with The Guardian reporting that in some of the worst-hit areas of the country — such as London which is served by the Met — one-in-five police officers are self-isolating or off sick.