Salvation Army supports emergency services during heatwave
published on 8 Sep 2022
For more than 50 years, The Salvation Army has been supporting emergency services around the country as they respond to major incidents.
The church and charity’s Incident Response Vehicles (IRVs) are based all around the UK.
In the past they have supported first responders and affected people at major incidents including The Grenfell Fire, the Manchester arena attacks and Storm Desmond in recent years.
The IRVs were out in force during the recent heatwave, providing on site refreshments and emotional support to first responders.
In London, the IRVs saw their busiest time on record, responding to 32 incidents between 1 July and 12 August.
The Salvation Army IRVs in other parts of the country were also busy.
Salvationists in Dorset rallied in support of emergency services tackling a huge fire on Studland Heath. They offered welfare support to more than 90 firefighters, plus coastguard rangers, park rangers and police personnel.
Major James Hill, IRV coordinator, praised the efforts of Salvationists from Winton, Boscombe and Swanage for their help. He said it’s a privilege for The Salvation Army to be able to help.
James said: “The ministry of care and compassion comes not just in the giving of food, but in the conversations, and, as we come alongside those who are exhausted emotionally and physically, it is incredible how this often leads to moments when we can share our faith and support people spiritually too.”
In Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, the IRV responded to 10 call outs over three weeks with the Moorland Fires.
Ruth Hunter, IRV coordinator, said firefighters received large amounts of freshly cooked bacon, sausage and beef burger sandwiches, along with cold drinks in the hot weather.
She added: “We feel it’s a privilege and a vital part of our mission to be able to support our emergency services and local communities.”
In Suffolk, Salvationists were called to support more than 100 firefighters tackling a fire in a 15-acre field. The day after, they were asked to provide refreshments for more than 90 firefighters battling a 15-acre blaze in Thetford Forest.
Mike Baker, coordinator said: “Fighting these types of fires really saps the energy and the firefighters are so relieved to see us. We see it as God’s love in action, offering encouragement, cheer and support. The group has been called out 11 times this year so far.”
In the North West, Major Nigel Tansley, the Divisional Emergency Response Coordinator, said the IRV was called to support four consecutive fires in 24 hours in Cheshire and emergency services dealing with the aftermath of a fire at a scrapyard in Oldham.
He said: “We feel we can bring something extra and we are doing it in the name of Jesus. If someone needs us, we will always try and support them. Our brave firefighters often need somewhere to have a natter and unload what they are dealing with.”
In Kent, The Salvation Army’s IRV supported the county’s fire and rescue service tackling grass fires around the Dartford Heath area.
Rob Saunders, Emergency Response Coordinator, said: “We are always happy to support Kent Fire and Rescue. The conditions and heat they were working in were huge and to provide a small bit of relief and a listening ear is always a privilege.”