What has the Fire and Rescue Service got to do with helping to develop an active ageing, independent and safer generation?

Why does the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) see great value in sitting on the Age Action Alliance Partnership Development Group? Thanks to the Age Action Alliance many people are far more aware of the capability of Fire Service personnel and their broad contribution in helping develop more resilient individuals and communities. The challenge for our future is one for us all.

The Fire and Rescue Service is firmly embedded in the community, quite often the fire station can be the last public service institution left in communities. Every day in the UK thousands of householders are visited, engaged with, and offered advice including the free fitting of smoke alarms to make their homes safer. We focus this work on the more mature sections of the community as we know the older we get you are more at risk from fire. We have seen some incredible results in the last few decades 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 that may not have 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.

Whilst we have been successful in prevention a growing older population does present the Fire and Rescue Service with some real challenges. A larger older population will mean the potential of deaths and injuries increasing for the first time in nearly forty years. Unless that is we work far more closely with our communities and in partnership with the Department for Work and pensions and the National Health Service so as to ensure we carry out our work with individuals who may be most at risk.

When people in our communities are asked what they want of a fire and rescue service? They say: “a fire engine and quickly”.  The philosophy we have developed is to do everything we can with agencies and individuals so as a fire engine should only ever be a last resort. We are of course very proud of the expertise of our personnel in fire fighting and rescue. At the same time we recognise the unique contribution they make in prevention.

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.

I am honoured to lead for the Chief Fire Officers Association a 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 four decades. As a service we have acknowledged this and we are doing something about it.  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 members of the Age Action Alliance.

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

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

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

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