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FIA works closely with NFCC to provide PPE for front line firefighters

16 July 2020

ON FRIDAY 20 March with the COVID-19 pandemic reaching its peak, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) sought to collaborate with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) to make sure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was made readily available for firefighters to protect themselves against COVID-19 while undertaking their enhanced role assisting the National Health Service and the ambulance service.

The FIA assisted the National Fire Commercial Transformation Programme (NFCTP) that’s led by Kent’s chief fire officer Ann Millington by engaging its members and asking them to leverage their contacts in wider industry sectors to source PPE such as gloves, masks and hand sanitiser.

The FIA ensured that all suggested suppliers had evidence to prove that they were compliant with the appropriate standards as defined by the technical due diligence process outlined by the Kent Fire and Rescue Service. After these checks, the FIA then forwarded the suppliers to the team in Kent who would complete the due diligence and then liaise with Fire and Rescue Services up and down the country in a determined bid to ensure access to available supply of critical commodities.

Tina Butler, head of commercial and procurement the Kent Fire and Rescue Service and programme lead for the NFCTP, explained: “The NFCTP and the FIA have been engaged for some time prior to COVID-19, building a more professional relationship between the sectors to ensure that we move away from a fragmented approach towards market engagement.”

Butler continued: “The unprecedented global impact on supply chains as a result of the pandemic has been a real test of this new way of working, and I’m incredibly grateful to FIA director Bernie Higgins and everyone involved within the network who have really pulled together with the Fire and Rescue Service to ensure that we can provide the right level of protection for our front line personnel. I look forward to building upon this good work to ensure that, together, we can deliver the most effective and successful recovery possible.”

Sector working together

Ann Millington added: “I’m indebted, as is the national fire service, to the extraordinary work carried out by Tina Butler and her team and the wider team of procurement professionals in this crisis. It’s no exaggeration to say we couldn’t have done the great work in supporting other agencies during this crisis were it not for the PPE supplies. The FIA has been a great partner in this and I thank the Trade Association for its tremendous efforts.”

Bernie Higgins responded: “This is an excellent example of the wider fire sector working together in the national interest to ensure that firefighters can continue to protect the public during this extremely challenging period.”

The FIA and the NFFC paused the arrangement on 15 June to reflect the more stable position of the sector, but have left the door wide open to re-starting this valuable partnership to help protect firefighters across the nation should the need arise.

As the national now enters the recovery phase, the FIA will be working very closely with the NFCC to assist Fire and Rescue Services and suppliers to it in order to ensure the most effective recovery possible.