SICKNESS rates among firefighters and accidents in the service have improved, according to latest figures.
County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, which covers Peterlee and east Durham, has seen a reduction in absence levels for full-time firefighters for the 10th year running.
Fire chiefs say sickness levels dropped by more than 56 per cent and they put this down to a combination of improved management of absence and other pro-active measures.
These include the introduction of structured fitness training and assessment, increased use of physiotherapy, individual health checks, flu vaccinations, counselling support and advice, specific support for long-term medical conditions and effective use of modified duties.
The service has also introduced innovative measures to improve health and safety.
The number of accidents which occurred in the service has dropped from 85 in 2001 to 24 in 2011.
In 2010, the service became the first in the country to receive the OHSAS 18001 standard for excellent health and safety management.
This followed the achievement of a Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Platinum Award for health and safety.
Stuart Errington, the service’s director of organisational and people development, said: “This is a tremendous achievement for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.
“Health and safety is a key priority for us and we are extremely proud of the staff at all levels for working together to achieve these results.”
Jane Brown, chairman of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Authority’s Human Resources Committee, added: “Year on year improvements in these areas has helped ensure we continue to deliver a first class service to the people of County Durham and Darlington.”