Event marks success of fire and mental health partnership

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has been working in partnership with Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust (PCFT) since 2013 to reduce the risk of fire for people living with mental health needs and to improve fire safety awareness and practice within the trust.

To celebrate the partnership and it’s achievements to date, an event was held on Monday, January 22 called ‘It’s Time to Care About Fire’, attended by more than 80 people from health, social care and fire and rescue services across the UK.

Leaders from Pennine Care and GMFRS signed a refreshed partnership agreement in which both parties agreed to continue to work together towards a common goal of improving fire safety and health and wellbeing.

Geoff Harris, Assistant Chief Fire Officer and Director of Prevention and Protection at GMFRS, opened the event and outlined the background to the partnership and the relationship between fire and mental health.

Geoff said: “It’s clear GMFRS and PCFT have identified mental health as a mutual risk factor and have a shared obligation to look after vulnerable members of the community.

“These events are important, as they allow us to reach a mutual understanding about ways we can support each other, with initiatives like Safe and Well, in dealing with these issues.”

It is hoped the refreshed partnership agreement will reduce disruption to service in both organisations and promote the benefits of partnership working, providing a framework for others to follow.

Colin Waite and Steve Lyon, Fire Safety Managers from PCFT, talked about innovative ways that fires can be avoided and contained in hospital settings. This included the use of the latest fire detecting technology. They also explained how training has improved the way in which Pennine Care staff respond more effectively if a fire starts. 

Jon Hill, Fire Protection Manager at GMFRS, talked about how the partnership has improved operational crews’ understanding of NHS buildings and processes which helps them to respond more efficiently when they attend incidents.

Paula Breeze, Health and Social Care Co-Ordinator from GMFRS was joined by Jax Effiong, Community Safety Manager to share some of the key prevention outcomes achieved through the partnership. Outcomes included increased numbers of PCFT service users accessing Safe and Well visits and improved fire safety awareness amongst staff.   

Lauren Walker, Fire Safe and Well Regional Manager for London Fire Brigade (LFB), one of the guests at the event, is developing a similar programme.

Lauren said: “We are just developing a similar programme in London and the event today has been an incredibly valuable learning experience.”

This collaboration not only strengthens ties between regional partners who can share skills to better serve the community, but is also having a positive effect on the health and wellbeing of people all over the country as other regions seek to replicate our success.

Further information about the partnership can be found in a report which can be accessed on GMFRS website link