Wirral firefighters were among those thanked by the Home Secretary Priti Patel as she visited Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service on Thursday.
She met with firefighters who have been on the frontlines during the pandemic and heard how their roles have adapted to deal with the challenges posed by coronavirus.
Staff and firefighters from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service have helped to deliver essential items to vulnerable people and transported non-COVID-19 patients to and from hospital.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Our brave firefighters have played a crucial part in our fight against coronavirus.
“They have provided invaluable support to other emergency services – assisting vulnerable people and NHS staff – in addition to their usual life-saving duties.
“I am extremely grateful to them for their selfless service to our country.”
During her visit, the home secretary was briefed on Merseyside’s role in coordinating national resilience capabilities for fire and rescue services across England and Wales.
Merseyside FRS provides specialist training to other fire authorities and maintains specialist vehicles and kit required to protect people and property in local and national emergencies. The Home Office is providing over £11 million in total funding for Merseyside’s role in national resilience work.
Councillor Lesley Rennie (Conservative, Wallasey Ward) added: “As a member of the Fire Authority, we have received almost daily updates on the work of our firefighters to support communities through the pandemic.
"Fire and rescue staff have delivered thousands of prescription medications and hundreds of food parcels to those most in need across Wirral and Merseyside."
Merseyside FRS Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan said: “It is fantastic to have the opportunity to show the Home Secretary some of the work we do here at Merseyside - both in our own right as a local Fire & Rescue Service but also as part of our national role in relation to the coordination and deployment of National Fire and Rescue Service assets.
“We have also been able to show how we have maintained our operational responsibilities despite the current pandemic and despite concurrent events taking place elsewhere. For example, the Home Secretary was able to see first-hand how we are currently preparing our teams should they be needed to aid in the response to the terrible events in Beirut this week as part of the UK International Search and Rescue team.
“Throughout the pandemic, Fire & Rescue Services up and down the country have gone above and beyond the call of duty, helping to support our NHS and blue light colleagues wherever possible.”
To support the fire and rescue service during the pandemic, the Home Office recently launched a £6 million Fire COVID-19 Contingency Fund. This fund will provide financial support to fire and rescue authorities who incur significant costs as a result of taking on additional duties during the pandemic.