Busiest month on record for London fire and rescue support
published on 11 Aug 2022
As firefighters in London and across the country battled a series of hot weather-related fires, The Salvation Army’s Incident Response Vehicles (IRV) were called out to support the fire crews working in sweltering conditions with refreshments.
Major Karl Gray is The Salvation Army’s pan London IRV coordinator and said that in July, the IRVs were called out 20 times. Among the incidents they attended was the fire in Wennington which destroyed 14 homes.
Karl said the level of support the IRVs offered last month was unprecedented and said the aim is to provide a consistent level of response. He’s been involved with the IRVs since 2005.
He explained: “We have fridges on board which we try to keep fully stocked so we are able to respond 24/7. Keeping firefighters hydrated is crucial, especially when they are working in especially difficult conditions. We also offer a chance to chat and off load which can also help them reset and recover.
“Although what we do has changed little over the last 25 years, the level of how we respond has increased and we have been able to develop that level of response to ensure consistency across the city.”
The church and charity has been supporting the capital’s firefighters for more than 50 years. There are now three purpose-built vehicles strategically placed at fire stations across London. The London IRVs also have close working relationships with the vehicles in surrounding Salvation Army divisions, that can be called upon to assist the pan London response when necessary.
Karl added: “The vehicles have been built to a very high specification and even include amber lights, so we are able to attend airside at airports. We have supported and exercises at London Heathrow and London City Airport, for example.”
Karl said the relationship between the London Fire Brigade and The Salvation Army has grown and is one of mutual respect.
He said: “They treat us as though we are part of the LFB family.
It’s a privilege to be allowed into their world. We’re always inside the inner cordon. We are the responsibility of LFB incident commander and they always ensure our safety. Our role is to give the first responders a brief respite in the midst of very challenging incidents.
“It is always a team effort. We thank everyone who has responded recently and also historically. This ministry is a privilege and we give God the thanks that he has opened the doors for this to happen.”