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Safety first for firefighters thanks to new UK Power Networks agreement

02 February 2021

ALL SIX Fire and Rescue Services operating across the East of England have signed up to a new agreement designed to keep emergency crews and members of the public safe near high voltage electrical equipment. Electricity business UK Power Networks has created a Memorandum of Understanding which sets out procedures and responsibilities in the event of an incident involving electricity to ensure safe working areas.

The power company will work with the Fire and Rescue Services involved – namely Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk – to quickly make safe any electrical equipment which would pose a hazard such that the work of the Emergency Services can always be carried out without delay.

In order to deliver electricity to homes and businesses, there are more than 69,000 substations based in communities across the East of England, as well as 62,000 kilometres of underground cable and 32,000 kilometres of overhead lines. The six Fire and Rescue Services can now see the locations of such equipment and know how to gain assurances about electrical safety when arriving at a site where there are ‘Danger of Death’ signs in place.

Peter Vujanic, head of Health and Safety at UK Power Networks, said: “Working safely and maintaining the safety of the general public and the people who help them such as the Emergency Services is our top priority. This Memorandum of Understanding defines protocols which will ensure that any incidents involving electricity and fire are dealt with in an effective manner, in turn providing safe working areas for operational firefighters.”

Transacting work safely

Stuart Ruff, chief fire officer for the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, has spoken on behalf of all six Fire and Rescue Services by commenting: “Agreements which help to enhance the safety of our crews and the public across the region are very welcome. This Memorandum of Understanding will help to ensure that, in the event of incidents involving firefighting or rescues associated with the electricity distribution infrastructure, our work can be done safely and swiftly with the full support of UK Power Networks.”

UK Power Networks is the country’s biggest electricity distributor, making sure the lights stay on for more than eight million homes and businesses across London, the South East and the East of England.

The company invests more than £600 million in its electricity networks every year, offers extra help to vulnerable customers at times of need and is undertaking trials to ensure that electricity networks support the transition to a low carbon future.