CHESHIRE Fire and Rescue Service has won a national award from industry professionals for its 'Safe and Well' initiative.

The 2017 Excellence in Fire and Emergency Awards celebrated innovative practices, initiatives, partnerships, technology and influential individuals in the fire and emergency services.

Hosted by London Fire Brigade’s director of safety and assurance, Steve Apter, and deputy assistant commissioner, Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, with the voiceover provided by the voice of University Challenge, Roger Tilling, the awards were an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the hard work and achievements of the fire and emergency services.

The judging panel named Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service as winner in the Partnership of the Year category of the Excellence in Fire and Emergency Awards 2017.

The fire service offers a free 'Safe and Well' visit for people who are aged over 65 and for people who are referred to the service by partner agencies because they are considered to be at a particular risk.

Safe and Well visits incorporate the traditional fire safety information (and smoke alarm fitting), and also offer additional advice on slips, trips and fall prevention.

Nick Evans, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s head of prevention, said: “We are delighted to have won such a prestigious award.

“This work has recognised the advantages to our communities of including health awareness in what were home safety assessments and are now known as Safe and Well visits.

“It is particularly pleasing to have been recognised by industry professionals for what is an integral part of the day-to-day work of our firefighters and advocates who work hard within the community to ensure people stay safe and keep well.”

The service’s Safe and Well visits also offer information regarding bowel cancer screening as well as offering support to those who wish to stop smoking, taking drugs or reduce their alcohol consumption.

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, introduced in 2006, identified that there were difficulties in engaging with people aged 60 to 74, facing multiple barriers with regards to participation, embarrassment, fear of the outcome and poor health literacy with regard to understanding the importance of completing the test.

Given the trust the community places in fire and rescue services, firefighters are able to talk to residents to allay fears over the bowel cancer screening.

Firefighters and advocates received specific training from Cancer Research UK personnel and, from 1 February to 3 November this year, staff conducted 32,059 visits resulting in 1951 referrals to the NHS England Bowel Cancer Screening Hub for a kit to be sent out to the householder.

At least three have tested positive for bowel cancer and are now receiving treatment.