Vulnerable people such as the elderly are set to benefit from new ‘Safe and Well’ visits being carried out by West Midlands firefighters.
The initiative builds on the long-standing success of Home Safety Checks (HSCs), which have helped to protect thousands of people throughout the West Midlands from the risk of fire in their home.
Safe and Well visits will still incorporate an HSC, but will now include advice to help an individual improve their health and wellbeing – with the ultimate goal of reducing their risk from fire.
Phil Loach, Chief Fire Officer of West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS), said: “Our Home Safety Checks have had a huge, positive impact on people’s safety in the West Midlands, sustained over several years. We are now building on that success, by taking a far more holistic view of the circumstances in which our vulnerable residents live.
“We will still be assessing the physical risks of fire in a home, but also considering health, social and lifestyle factors. There can be clear links between these and someone’s vulnerability to fire.”
Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “The prevention work that firefighters have carried out for many years has been critical in driving down fires and other life threatening incidents.
“It makes sense to expand this activity into areas of health and wellbeing to reduce the higher risk that impacts on vulnerable people”.
Safe and Well visits will be carried out by operational firefighters, based at the West Midlands’ 38 fire stations, and are expected to take no more than an hour. Fire crews will assess the risk of fire in the home. With the resident’s agreement, they will also cover a range of issues and topics, including:
• weight, exercise and healthy eating
• mobility and falls
• mental health, memory loss and dementia
• loneliness and social isolation
• smoking, alcohol, medication and drugs
• road safety
• home security
A handbook complements the visits, providing information on safety, health and well-being. A copy will be left with the household, along with details of any actions or referrals made by the visiting fire crew.
WMFS is playing a key role in the national fire/health agenda. It is being led by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) which is linking up strategically with the NHS and Public Health England.
WMFS has understood for some time the link between the social determinants and lifestyle choices and the risk of fire. The service was recently awarded Marmot Partnership Status in recognition of its ongoing work tackling health inequality.
Issued by Neil Spencer, Media Relations Manager, West Midlands Fire Service, tel 0121 380 6101. On Twitter we’re @WestMidsFire