About the Fire and Emergency Support Service in Surrey
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service and the British Red Cross join forces in a partnership scheme that offers the victims of house fires and other domestic accidents support and assistance in their time of need.
As part of the British Red Cross' emergency response role, the fire and emergency support service (FESS) aims to help people who have suffered damage to their home following a fire, flood or similar incident - providing practical help, advice and comfort.
The service is delivered by specially trained British Red Cross volunteers who use a fire and emergency support unit - a specially adapted Fiat Trigano Tribute - kitted out with all the immediate necessities such as a clothing bank, toiletries, phone, documents and most importantly a Red Cross volunteer who can offer vital emotional and practical support in a time of great need, and signpost victims to other agencies that can help them move forward.
Volunteers work in co-operation with local fire services across the UK and are ready to respond, particularly outside normal office hours. The service operates in partnership with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service on an automatic call-out system, 24/7.They will arrive at the scene of the incident within 90 minutes of call-out. The service is free to the people receiving it – all costs are met by voluntary donations to the British Red Cross.
If you would like to become a volunteer member of the scheme or make a donation, please contact British Red Cross Volunteering Team - 02392 894202 or HIoWSVolunteerAdmin@redcross.org.uk
Additional information can be found via the British Red Cross website.
What the Fire and Rescue Service say
Surrey's top fire officer and the county's High Sheriff offered their praise to volunteers who provide vital support to fire victims at the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service award ceremony in 2008.
The British Red Cross fire and emergency support service was recognised for its 'valued and considerable contribution to the community', as service coordinator John Drudge was presented with the prestigious accolade of the 2008 Partnership Award by The High Sheriff of Surrey (2008-09) Sally Varah at a special ceremony held at fire service HQ in Reigate.
Russell Pearson, Chief Fire Officer for Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, said: "While Surrey is one of the safest places to live, accidents do happen and many of these have devastating emotional and practical impacts on people's lives. The contribution that the fire and emergency support service makes to help those traumatically affected by fire, flood and other tragedies, is invaluable. The Red Cross volunteers are also of great help to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service's firefighters at incidents, by helping to address public welfare issues whilst firefighters concentrate on the rescue operation.
"Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has worked in partnership with the fire and emergency support service for many years and John has played an instrumental role in developing the partnership. John's personal dedication to the Red Cross service is highly commendable and we are delighted to be recognising this by presenting an 'External Partner Award'."
One fire victim from Haslemere said: "When you have lost everything - literally everything - you have ever owned and watched your child trapped in a burning house, the last thing you are able to do is think logically.
"Once the incredible firefighters had put out the fire, which had once been our home, their job was done. It was then the turn of some amazing people who took over the 'thinking process' for us, when merely drinking a hot cup of tea seemed like a major achievement. These people were the fire and emergency support service volunteers from the British Red Cross. They took over when thinking, organising, planning and even reading insurance policies were the last things on our minds.
"They made phone calls, provided clothing, gave us hugs and made us smile through moments that you couldn't even imagine. Your help was crucial to us rebuilding our lives – thank you. You are our unsung heroes."