Obesity issue weighing on Norfolk's firefighters

Obesity issue weighing on Norfolk's firefighters

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Harriet Clugston
6:27pm 13th February 2020. (Updated at 12:23pm 14th February 2020)

New numbers show obesity is becoming a bigger problem for Norfolk's firefighters.


Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service went to 17 callouts of helping ambulance staff move obese patients in the 2018-19 period, five more than the year before.

Firefighters often need lifting equipment and special slings to move these people, and sometimes need to take out windows, walls and banisters.

The average call-out to fire and rescue services costs around £400, meaning the cost of moving obese people in Norfolk last year came to £6,800.

Colm Porter is National Ambulance Officer for UNISON, which is a public sector union:

National Obesity Forum chairman Tam Fry says the failure of governments to tackle the obesity problem is to blame:

"Society's main concern must be that crews engaged in hauling the morbidly obese from their houses are unavailable to fulfil their principal duty of hauling people from burning buildings.

"If one death should occur as a result it would be a calamity and rightly see the Government disgraced."

In Norfolk, 53% of these cases need more than one fire engine or other vehicle in attendance, while five of the call-outs needed four or more.

For seven of the call-outs, at least ten crew members were needed,

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said:

"Tackling obesity is a priority for this government, and we are committed to halving childhood obesity rates by 2030.

"Robust government action has decreased the sugar content in soft drinks by almost a third and we’ve invested millions promoting physical activity in schools."