A Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Fire Summit was held at Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service to identify how partnership work between organisations across the two counties can help target the most vulnerable people.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service and NHS England met with partner organisations to discuss further ways of working together to reduce risk to vulnerable people in the community, particularly the elderly.
Both Fire and Rescue Services in Cheshire and Merseyside are keen to support the national programme of work to assist the health agenda.
Delegates were shown how work such as data-sharing with other agencies is used by the Fire and Rescue Services to identify vulnerable people at most risk from fire and in need of Home Fire Safety Checks.
Firefighters and prevention staff visit properties to carry out Home Fire Safety Checks and the work is tailored to the household circumstances.
Research shows that personal fire-risk increases with age. Both Cheshire and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Services therefore focus considerable effort and resource on identified vulnerable older households. Annually, around 85,000 Home Fire Safety Checks are delivered in Cheshire and Merseyside, the majority of which are targeted at people aged 65 or over.
Nationally, this work has played a key role in helping to reduce preventable fire deaths in England. Accidental dwelling fire fatalities, which account for three fifths of all fire fatalities, have reduced by around 50% over the past decade. In line with the national picture, fire deaths, injuries and incidents have reduced dramatically in Cheshire and Merseyside during the same period.
At the summit delegates discussed ways in which the home visits carried out by Fire and Rescue Services could further assist other organisations in their objectives to help vulnerable people.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan, from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: “Our prevention work has already proven to be incredibly valuable in helping to keep vulnerable people safe from fire.
“Over the past decade we have significantly reduced the number of accidental fire deaths and injuries in homes across Merseyside.
“Our work with Health and Social Care partners has allowed us to specifically target those people who are most at risk and are hardest to reach.
“We also recognise that there is so much more we could do when we cross the threshold of a vulnerable person’s home and we are really excited about the evolution our Home Fire Safety Check into something even more beneficial to the communities we serve.
“The delegates who attended the summit have a common aim and that is to keep people as safe as possible in their homes. Gathering representatives from partner agencies from Cheshire and Merseyside in one room allowed us to discuss how we can work together effectively to ensure communities are safer, stronger and more resilient.”
Clare Duggan, Director of Commissioning Operations, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, said: “The presentations were excellent from both the health and fire services. All colleagues were very keen to explore the potential to work together to help meet the preventative needs of the most vulnerable people.
“Organisations discussed local opportunities, the ability to work collectively, what support is required and how we can overcome any obstacles. We discussed key issues that vulnerable people face, including falls, loneliness, mental health as well as illnesses, such as flu.
“A smaller working group across fire and health services in Cheshire and Merseyside will work collaboratively so we can potentially pilot our actions in the Autumn.
“We are looking forward to making measurable actions that will make a difference to local people.”
Mark Cashin, Cheshire’s Deputy Chief Fire officer said: “This has been a really useful summit in terms of considering ways that we can further strengthen our collective approach to protecting people in their homes. There has never been a better time to build on our partnership activity to ensure that we continue to target and protect the most vulnerable in our communities.”
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has released a publication “Dying for Data – Reducing Fire Deaths in Merseyside” highlighting the extensive work the Service has undertaken to help vulnerable people by safely and securely sharing data with partner organisations.
Agencies who may already work, or have contact with people who are more vulnerable, are asked to help to make the people they are aware of safer by emailing Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service to discuss sharing information at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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