Firefighters will start testing face masks for NHS workers and deliver medical supplies as they take on additional roles during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new agreement will see fire service staff transport personal protective equipment (PPE) and test masks for frontline health workers to ensure they fit properly before use.
Firefighters have already agreed to drive ambulances, deliver essential items such as food to vulnerable people and retrieve dead bodies in addition to their core roles.
National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) chair Roy Wilsher welcomed the latest move but said he wanted to see other similar requests for help “agreed more quickly” to ensure support is “delivered at speed”.
His comments come as negotiations around other requests for assistance remain ongoing, the NFCC said.
These include ambulance control room support, help with driving doctors to carry out home visits and teaching people to drive ambulances.
Mr Wilsher said: “This is further testament that firefighters across the UK are ready, willing and able to take on additional work, supporting the response to the current Covid-19 pandemic.
“While the agreement and dialogue is welcomed, I would like to see other requests being agreed more quickly.
“This would ensure additional support for local partners is delivered at speed.
“However, I am pleased that NFCC, the national employers and representative bodies have shown their commitment to working together. ”
The latest measures were agreed on by the NFCC, employers and the Fire Brigades Union.
The NFCC said firefighters will carry out “face-fit” testing to ensure masks for NHS workers are clean and form a tight seal on the wearer’s face to prevent substances from getting inside.
Previously agreed support around ambulance driving was planned to run for two months and could affect the UK’s 48,000 firefighters and emergency control staff.
Mr Wilsher said all fire service staff “all want to play their part” in assisting with the response to the coronavirus pandemic.