Firefighters increasingly hurt on the job - with rise blamed on heavy lifting during car crashes and obesity call-outs

There's been a spike in firefighters getting hurt on the job, with heavy lifting during car crashes and obesity call-outs to blame.

Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 3:45 pm

Dozens of fire heroes have reported injuries so far this year, up to 73 from 65 at the same point a year ago.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Russel, who has since taken on the top job in Greater Manchester, said the "increase was a rise in accidents of routine activity", which he said was "typically manual handing-related injuries" at smashes and while helping paramedics with bariatric casualties.

Service bosses were told nine incidents have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive, the same as in 2018/19 and down from 13 in 2017/18.

Firefighters were called to free a casualty trapped in their car after a crash on the M6 northbound, near Charnock Richard, in January 2017. There is no suggestion any were hurt on this specific job (Picture: Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service)

"While there had been an increased number, the severity was not high," documents revealed.

"It was difficult to provide an accident-free environment due to the nature of the work but the service endeavoured to create a culture where accidents were as low as possible".

Some £60,000 has been spent on "lightweight, battery-powered tool" that can be used at road accidents in attempt to help alleviate the problem.

The Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said the tools weigh less and are easier to handle that older Dewalt gear.

"They are available to all operation fire stations and are in use already," a spokeswoman said.

Firefighters across the county are being called to move overweight people on an almost weekly basis, with obesity an increasingly major problem, this newspaper reported earlier this year.

Each call-out is estimated to cost the fire service £400.

And the union Unison said moving heavy patients is a worsening problem for ambulance crews too.

Colm Porter, its national ambulance officer, said: "Going beyond the safe working load for specialist equipment creates danger for both crews and patients.

"Staff have to assess each situation to decide whether they need assistance from other emergency services."