On the 20th March with the COVID-19 pandemic reaching its peak the Fire Industry Association sought to collaborate with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) to get Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for firefighters to protect against COVID-19 whilst they undertook their enhanced role assisting the National Health Service and ambulance service.

The FIA assisted the National Fire Commercial Transformation Programme (NFCTP) that is led by Kent’s Chief Fire Officer Ann Millington by engaging our members and asking them to leverage their contacts in wider industry sectors to source PPE such as gloves, masks as well as 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 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 fire and rescue services up and down the country to ensure access to available supply of critical commodities.

Tina Butler, Head of Commercial and Procurement in KFRS and Programme Lead for the NFCTP, adds:

‘The NFCTP and FIA have been engaged for some time prior to COVID, building a more professional relationship between the Sectors to ensure that we move away from a fragmented approach to market engagement.

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 am incredibly grateful to Bernie, Martin, Lesley 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. I look forward to building upon this good work to ensure that together, we can deliver the most effective and successful recovery possible.’

Ann Millington, Chief Executive Kent Fire and Rescue Service, said:

‘I am 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 is 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 have been great partners in this and I thank you.’

FIA Director Bernie Higgins concludes “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.”

As of June 15th, the FIA and NFFC have paused this arrangement, to reflect the more stable position of the Sector, but have left the doors wide open to restarting this valuable partnership to help protect firefighters across the nation.

As we go into the recovery phase, we will be working very closely with the NFCC to assist both Fire and Rescue Services and suppliers to the service to ensure the most effective recovery possible.

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