THE general principle of fire crews adding ‘Safe and Well’ checks as they carry out their regular and highly successful fire safety visits at people’s homes seems a very sensible one.

Firefighters often visit the homes of some of the district’s most vulnerable residents and enjoy access which can be more restricted to some other agencies due to the public trust attached to the fire service uniform.

But it is also easy to understand the concerns of the Fire Brigades Union that crews must undergo suitable and sufficient training to be able to properly fulfil this new duty which is set to be introduced over the next two years.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority appears to be in the vanguard of introducing these extra responsibilities and we trust that it is taking account of the FBU’s claims that the policy is being ‘rushed in’.

It would be a crying shame if the manner in which it is brought in brings with it a resistance to take part by fire crews which will surely hamper its future effectiveness.

An early warning system to other agencies of people’s lifestyle dangers or difficulties in whatever form they occur has the potential to both save lives and to help reduce the pressure on other agencies, notably the health service by reducing A&E attendances and hospital admissions.

Sharing responsibilities is becoming a watchword for public services as new ways are sought to use every penny of taxpayers’ cash as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Let’s hope fire and union chiefs quickly resolve their differences to allow the smooth introduction of this scheme.