BARNSLEY firefighters will be able to deliver food and drive ambulances to support people during the coronavirus crisis.

An ‘unprecedented’ national agreement has been struck between fire chiefs, employers and representative bodies such as the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), lasting for an initial two months.

The voluntary duties firefighters can now take on include retrieving dead bodies, as well as their core duties.

“As a service we are here to make South Yorkshire safer and stronger - we could not be more willing, and able, to help out in any way we can during these extremely challenging times,” said chief fire officer Alex Johnson.

“Our firefighters are trained to an extremely high standard. They have a huge amount of experience in driving blue light vehicles and are very well respected in their local communities. I’m hugely proud of them all and know they will do a fantastic job if called upon.”

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Last year, plans to cut the number of firefighters on response crews were shelved at a fire authority meeting held at Barnsley Town Hall, due in part to pressure by FBU members.