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Working Alongside Your Contingency Fire Crews


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I went to a fairly high level meeting to discuss  Covid-19 contingency planning last week

For a change, there was no hysterical 'we are all gunna die" rhetoric, but the discussions were all about mass absence and about keeping bums on seats to maintain essential and critical services. We discussed a range of scenarios considering various proportions of staff absence up to 80% (the perceived worst case scenario). It was quite enlightening/scary.

It made me wonder about the UK Fire and Rescue Service. The health risk is perhaps  generally low as staff are younger and fitter than the high risk groups which involve vulnerable groups such as the elderly and chronically ill.

But with a high percentage of absenteeism due to illness and self-isolation, there may be a need to top up 'employed' firefighters with those waiting in the wings as 'contingency crews' .

Under the Civil Contingencies Act, every fire & rescue service has to have plans to run their statutory service is staffing levels fall and many have standby crews on retainer to offer a skeleton service. Fire services around the UK have used their 'Dad's Army' crews several times during industrial action

But with a virus led absence, it may be necessary for employed crews to work with and alongside Dad's Army crews. The LFB's plans have always factored in epidemic and pandemic mass absence as triggers to use contingency crews.

So are you planning for that eventuality? What might be the pitfalls? How do you feel about it and what - if any - is the FBU's position? Might be worth thinking about now rather than if/when it is imposed

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Are these the same contingency crews that are immune to both unionism and viruses?

I think with the talk of scaling back 999 responses to life threatening emergencies only in a worst case scenario, we should be ok without them 👍

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I think the hazards of working alongside resilience crews far outweigh to danger from Covid19. In my experience of the EFC crews, they were a sad collection of walts, wannabees and never coulds, led by a few retired officers who can't let their past go, unable to comprehend the hatred felt for them by FRS crews.

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Well if the contingency cover provided during the last strike was sufficient fire cover, from an appliances available/bums on seats point of view rather than skill and talent 😂 then I can’t see them being needed in London, most people recover don’t forget, so on a rotational basis people will become fit for duty again. 

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I was head hunted 10 years ago to lead contingency crews in London. I was a watch manager when I left but I had unofficial offers i could be in charge of either north or south of the river. 50% of the brigade

I feigned interest and was sent a whole package of interesting stuff about training schedules and packages that Lincolnshire FRS would be involved with and ops procedures crews would work under. It scared me to be honest

I was bloody horrified that anyone would want to be in charge of perhaps 15 crews where EVERY member from driver to OIC would be a sprog 

I politefully declined the role and accidentally sent the details of the proposals to the FBU

It was clear in the blurb I saw that contingency crews would work along 'regular' crews where mass absence was an issue

This is the plan, make no mistake, so if the LFB are doing this, others will be too 

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The contingency crews thing will never happen in London for this covid19 thing. 98% of symptomatic infected people have a flu like illness and recover. What I think will happen is lots of outduties, lots of stand by appliance movements and lots of prearranged overtime, stay fit get rich! 😁

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