Safeguarding residents of Kent and Medway

07 June 2021

Public, Community

“Sometimes people don’t know they need support or help, or where to go to get it. Together, we can identify any risks and make sure they have access to the right advice and support.” 

Those are the words of Becky, Safeguarding Manager at Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS), who saves lives every day – despite not being a firefighter.

Not all emergencies dealt with by the fire service involve 999 calls and blue lights, and Becky heads up the mission to provide help to customers often facing life-threatening challenges or situations in silence.

Circumstances may include concerns identified in a variety of situations, for example, child abuse, adult abuse, self-neglect, mental health, modern slavery, domestic abuse, exploitation and hoarding - which is also a fire-risk. 

All these matters can be identified by firefighters responding to incidents, by home safety officers carrying out Safe and Well home visits or by a member of our volunteer response team offering welfare support after an incident and pass to the safeguarding team for further advice and appropriate action.  

Becky said: “Making safeguarding personal is really important. It’s not down to us to investigate or assume what that person might need, it’s about talking with our customers to help them to understand the risks and working with them to determine what we can do to make sure they’re safe and protected.”

KFRS’ safeguarding officers work closely with partner agencies, such as the police, housing associations, social services, mental health organisations and charities, to ensure appropriate support is put in place. 

Becky added: “If any concerns are identified when we enter a customer’s home, or talk to them on the phone it is our duty to respond appropriately and if needed act quickly to make sure that person is safe and supported.”

All KFRS employees and volunteers are trained in safeguarding and have the vital skills and knowledge to identify and respond to potential risks of harm, including what to do when people disclose sensitive information to them. 

For example, during a call-out to a house fire a customer took the opportunity to seek help and tell a firefighter they had been a victim domestic abuse for many years. 

For example, during a call-out to a house fire a customer took the opportunity to seek help and tell a firefighter they had been a victim domestic abuse for many years. 

The crew member swiftly and discretely alerted KFRS’ safeguarding team, who worked with partner agencies to help the customer get the appropriate support they needed. 

“The firefighter was one of the first people they’d ever told,” Becky said. “As an organisation, we are trusted and we value that trust”.

“People often associate the word ‘rescue’ with a car crash or a fire, but the work we do around safeguarding is just as valuable. We have undoubtedly saved lives by the actions we have taken as a service to protect somebody that was at risk of serious harm.

“Our strength is working together, not just within Kent Fire and Rescue Service but also with our partner agencies. We all work together and we’ve all got different pieces of the puzzle to put together to make sure that person gets the support they need. 

“Together we are one team.” 

Find more information about safeguarding, as well as useful advice and support services here.