Churches Fire Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Churches Fire continues to monitor the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation globally, and the safety of our employees, customers and citizens in the wider community is our top priority. Since Churches Fire provides on-site support for many customers, we want to communicate how we are currently operating during this time.
Needless to say this has been an unprecedented set of circumstances, however we have to be led by the Government and our Industry Associations in order to aid us in decision making.
According to Government advice at the time of writing, fire and rescue service employees and support staff are classed as Key Workers, meaning our work falls under the critical sectors list in response to the COVID-19 situation.
The FIA (Fire Industry Association) has been in discussions with the Home Office regarding this situation. Therefore, the same as our Key Worker colleagues in government support services, supermarkets, utilities and manufacturing, we are essential to keep the country moving and critical to the infrastructure.
SAFE WORKING ENVIRONMENTS FOR OUR TECHNICIANS
We are assessing the need for planned preventative maintenance against essential emergency call outs. At this point we will be guided by our customers’ needs and requests, providing this does not put our team and other citizens at risk. This process is likely to change in the coming weeks, so our Senior Leadership Team is reviewing work for our Technicians daily.
Prior to shops, bars, gyms, restaurants etc. being temporarily closed, our Technicians worked additional hours to ensure – where possible – that the fire safety systems of our customer sites were maintained to normal working order.
At this time, Churches Fire is continuing to perform essential maintenance and servicing works in relation to fire and security provisions.
We have been looking at the risk to staff and how to minimise, as much as we can, the impact of any exposure. We therefore have decided that for any sites we deem as high risk we will only be responding to emergency call outs and not doing any planned preventative maintenance. Churches Fire will firstly aim to solve any issues over the phone with attendance on-site for a call out as a last resort. For all other sites, with agreement from our customers, we will carry on business as usual subject to some additional safety protocols:
- Calling before entering, asking if customers have any staff members who have worked in the last 7 days on-site that are likely to have been diagnosed with Coronavirus
- Ensuring that they use hand sanitiser before entering and wear masks
- If possible, use gloves
- Ensuring they stick to a 2-metre safety zone from any contact on-site and explain they will not get customers to sign the tablet and therefore require their full name – customers will not be allowed to touch tablets
- Not eating or drinking on site
- Not holding long conversations
- If a Technician needs to use the bathroom, washing their hands for at least 20-30 seconds before reapplying fresh gloves (where possible) and continuing
- When leaving site, washing hands thoroughly before they exit
- When reaching their van, reapplying hand sanitiser
- Ideally, we ask that you give our Technicians access and then ensure no further contact from anyone; if the Technician needs you, they will call you by phone.
If a Technician feels when they arrive on-site, that there is too much risk, for example a site has 200 workers in a distribution centre, then they reserve the right to note the risk, leave the site and return to service at a later date. There shouldn’t be many cases of this, but we want to ensure all our Technicians are comfortable with their working environment and we reduce all risk of cross-contamination between sites.
High risk are those locations with lots of people in close proximity. We have categorised this as high risk because we want to not only protect our Technicians, but also members of the public. However, we will continue to support these sites by giving advice and help over the phone or via a video call. Our Technicians will take calls and may ask for photos etc. to help them to support these sites. Sites that we have categorised as high risk include:
- Nursing homes
- Student accommodation
- Essential retail that is still trading with customers
- Residential premises
- Places with limited social distancing
Examples of sites we classify as lower risk and will continue to service include:
- Unoccupied schools or those with a reduced number of pupils
- General business premises which have large numbers of home workers and therefore are social distancing
- Empty buildings (retail which has closed to the public)
- Office buildings, again with lower levels of staff at this moment
This is a great opportunity for our customers to get remedial and service work completed whilst buildings are empty, and we are committed to maintaining our responsibilities for as long as it is practical and safe to do so.
For our work continuing on Project sites, the Government have deemed this to be a safe type of work. However, we reserve the right to suspend our activities if the site is overcrowded or there is no parking, forcing our workers to travel by busy Tube. Many sites have been suspended and only a few remain. These sites have been assessed and are deemed safe. We continue to take on projects for empty sites, especially in our aviation and retail sectors.
Churches Fire is dedicated to the prevention and protection against the threat of fire and theft throughout the year, and especially during these uncertain times for many businesses. We are committed to supporting our customers, our national effort and doing our duty at this time.
Customers must continue to safeguard, and your ‘Responsible Person’ should still take time to do their weekly fire tests. Please remember we are on the phone should you require any assistance.
We expect the Government advice to adjust over the coming weeks, and we will be making amendments to our working practices as necessary and notify you of any changes as circumstances require.
We are sure you understand our stance. We will continue to communicate with you during this time, and we send you, your families and colleagues our best wishes.
Chief Executive Officer