Ageing Safely

Evan Morris, Chief Fire Officers Association Lead on “Ageing Safely”

What has the fire and rescue service (FRS) got to do with helping to develop an active ageing, independent and safer generation?    Why am I sitting on the Age Action Alliance Partnership Board? The challenge for our future is one for us all.

The Fire and Rescue Service is firmly embedded in the community and every day in the UK thousands of householders are visited and engaged with, given advice and have smoke alarms fitted to make their homes safer. This work is focussed on people of a mature age as we know it is they who are most at risk from fire. We have seen some incredible results in the last ten years with  a dramatic reduction in fire deaths, injuries and accidental fires. The key to this success has been partnerships. The work with central government has been vital. Working together on campaigns, regulation and investing in equipment which saves lives has seen fantastic results.

” Many people are today walking the streets who may not of otherwise done so”

In the FRS we have transformed from a service which waited for emergencies to one which actively works to prevent them. This has allowed us to invest much more in prevention.

When people in our communities are asked what they want of a fire and rescue service? they say: “a fire engine and quickly”. We do of course understand that and we are proud of the professionalism and response of our firefighters to a range of emergencies.

After 34 years in the fire service I can tell you that it is heartbreaking arriving at the scene of a fire and seeing people who have needlessly perished when all they needed was some knowledge and simple equipment to help them survive.  I am pleased to say things have changed dramatically and who better to give that advice and reassurance than those who are experienced and excellent at putting the fires out.

In the twilight of my career I have been honoured to lead for the Chief Fire Officers Association strategy called “Ageing Safely”. We know that as our population gets older we will be lucky to maintain the reductions we have seen in the last ten years. As a service we have acknowledged this and we are doing something about it. We are developing new partnerships with for example the Department for Work and Pensions who are working with us to ensure we can make the difference by targeting those most in need. In this we are being greatly assisted by our colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government and organisations such as Age UK and all the organisations who are members of the Age Action Alliance.

You can be reassured that this considerable partnership are engaged to make our growing older population a challenge and one to be celebrated. Our older generation are very much part of the solution.

I am minded to highlight the two most active volunteers in my own fire and rescue service in Cheshire,  Margaret and Andrew Jeffrey. I know they wouldn’t mind me saying that they are both in their 80s and consistently make a very significant contribution  to making those in the Cheshire Community safer.

You too can celebrate being older and become a part of the solution!

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