In 2015, the Chief Executive of the NHS worked with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) to explore how fire services could help reduce winter deaths and carry out other health work to reduce pressure on the health service.
This included fire and rescue services using NHS data to help identify vulnerable people and carry out priority Safe and Well visits, then put interventions in place and make any appropriate referrals to other organisations.
Every day, firefighters and community safety teams come into contact with people who are deemed more vulnerable and who are also at the highest risk of fire at home.
Every year, more than 600,000 Safe and Well visits are delivered by fire and rescue services across the country, most targeted at people aged 65 or over.
This work has played a key role in helping to reduce preventable fire deaths in England. Accidental fire deaths in the home account for 60% of all fire deaths. But they have reduced by around 50% over the past decade.
This successful and proactive intervention work has received recognition and praise from the Cabinet Office, the NHS and Public Health England (PHE). Both the NHS and PHE have called for the wider role and value of fire and rescue service to be recognised and utilised to support the broader health agenda, with an emphasis on helping to protect older, vulnerable people and addressing winter mortality issues.