FIREFIGHTERS undertook extra training to increase their awareness of drink and drug abuse in the community.
Officers from Stranton Fire Station, in Hartlepool, have been working with health and drug workers to make sure they are well-equipped to deal with any incidents they come across.
Elizabeth Carroll, of IntraHealth, which provides NHS drug and alcohol misuse services in Hartlepool, visited the station along with Sue Tones, from Whitby Street Substance Misuse Treatment Centre.
The fire service asked to be given the training as part of their community work with fire prevention and education.
She added: “Collaboration with the NHS and the fire service is perhaps not immediately relevant.
“However, the clinical commissioning group has placed great significance on the local need to do as much as possible to help those people who require and welcome help and support with substance misuse problems and increasingly alcohol abuse and dependency.
“The fire service in Hartlepool encounter many different situations on a daily basis and have recognised that any training and education in substance and alcohol misuse will help equip them to recognise and understand situations arising as part of their valuable community role.”
Firefighters took part in interactive sessions, including quizzes to learn more about the kind of drugs prevalent in the community and how to direct users to support services.
Elizabeth said the feedback from the sessions had been positive.
Andy Robinson, a watch manager at Stranton Fire Station, said incidents of drug misuse are rare but said the training was useful.
He said: “It is helpful, as it gives us a greater awareness of what we could be faced with.
“We are working in the community all the time so it is also for the protection of our firefighters.”