The fire brigade in neighbouring Surrey has been hit by an outbreak of coronavirus which has placed nearly one-third of the county’s full-time fire engines out of service.

Surrey’s firefighters have been protesting against cuts to their service, and now have been hit by a covid-19 outbreak.    Photo: Jess Hurd

According to the Fire Brigades Union, the outbreak has occurred after Surrey Fire and Rescue Service failed to implement proper health and safety measures for the pandemic, leaving firefighters struggling to maintain emergency cover. As many as seven fire engines have been unavailable at any one time from the outbreak.

A Surrey firefighter tested positive for covid-19 on July 25 after undergoing two days of training exercises without proper infection prevention and control measures, according to the FBU. This caused 20 more personnel to be removed from duty for self-isolation.

Safety-critical training exercises have been reintroduced in Surrey after a pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, but proper control measures have not been put in place, the FBU says.

Firefighters have reported that social distancing measures were not maintained during the training. Face masks were not worn during classroom sessions, while water bottles and cooling measures were shared between firefighters.