Letter to editors on LFB response to Coronavirus

Dear Editor,
London Fire Brigade rightly remind us that its 5,000 staff deal with “more than just fires”. This has never been truer than during this coronavirus pandemic. In London, our firefighters have stepped up to drive ambulances and deliver millions of pieces of PPE to frontline health workers. Firefighters are also dealing with coronavirus deaths in the community. All this lightens the load on London’s health and care services.
But we should not forget that the everyday work of London Fire Brigade is still going on. Isolation and shielding must not result in harm to vulnerable people who are already at higher risk from fires. And London firefighters still make fortnightly visits to the 286 high rise blocks where ‘Stay Put’ advice has been suspended owing to Grenfell-style cladding and other problems.
I want to pay tribute to London’s firefighters, Brigade leadership and the FBU who have all adapted to this new reality. However, hundreds of LFB staff are off sick or self-isolating. Whilst it has been very positive to see the Health Secretary at last announce that testing will be expanded to cover firefighters, this has to happen as a matter of urgency. Applaud our key workers by all means – but get them tested and protected too.
Andrew Dismore AM
London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden