West Sussex fire chief 'confident' in face of crisis

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Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, the chief fire officer of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, has said she is confident in the face the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking to this newspaper from the safety of her home, Dr Cohen-Hatton said it has been 'incredibly strange' for the team at WSFRS as they are used to being the ones on the front line of a crisis situation, a title held by our health workers amid the coronavirus crisis.

Managing the service under the new circumstances has been 'so far so good', she said, "We have done an incredible amount of planning and working around this. We have been making sure our plans are really robust throughout the crisis whilst maintaining the social distancing that we need to.

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"We review [the plans] daily to make sure we are responding to any kind of change we may have. No just responding but joining up with other agencies."

Sabrina Cohen-HattonSabrina Cohen-Hatton
Sabrina Cohen-Hatton | other

The other agencies include local authorities, Sussex Police and health workers.

Dr Cohen-Hatton continued: "Rest assured, if someone was to dial 999 then we would absolutely be there.

"We have done all that we can to try and practise safe distancing unless we have had to be. Everyone else is working from home.

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"It feels incredibly strange for all of us because we are all so used to to dealing with a crisis situation. Normally we are in the thick of the crisis."

Visits to people's homes have become more difficult but things still need to be done to protect those who are at risk.

"Where we can we have started to do them by Skype. For the people with the absolute highest risk of having a fire, extra protections and extra PPE," she said.

"We are finding ways around this, new inventive ways. We have been working really hard to make sure that as soon as someone dials 999 we know were are going to be there. I'm really confident.

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"The best thing people can do to take as much care as then can in their own homes so they don't need to call us out. With more people working from home there's some simple home safety messages.

"Make sure you aren't overloading plug sockets. Also the roads are a lot quieter but that doesn't mean we are going to have less road traffic collisions, the speed limits are in place for a reason. Please still take the same amount of care.

"If people want to show their support, please keep yourselves as safe as you can."