LAST year firefighters helped ambulance services 900 times to break down doors and enter the homes of people who needed emergency help.

The fire service was commended for its work during the service’s Finance & Governance Committee, where councillors described it as important work to help people in need.

Firefighters have equipment on pumps which allows them to break through doors and reach people in need.

Although this is not a role that they must perform by law, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire service said it has helped in 900 cases in the last year to assist ambulance staff.

Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell said: “We are assisting ambulance services to break into houses when someone has collapsed.

“We are increasingly assisting ambulance services for someone who is behind the door.

“There is a cost to it but we’ve looked at this and said this is the sort of thing we should be doing.

“We’ve already got the equipment and experience shows our staff are pretty good at it and don’t create as much damage, so if somebody is in the care of the ambulance team, we have a very good track record of making sure their home is safe.

“In the case where South West Ambulance Service (SWAST) calls us to a premises where they are already there and they have made the judgement that somebody needs our help, we will take that action and there is no charge.

“If somebody requests a different non-statutory role, for example requests that we fill up a swimming pool, for example, that is a different matter.”

Chairman Cllr Bob Jones said: “I think this is important. It could well be seen to be, and it is absolutely part of our role. I’m very supportive of this.”

Councillors voted to approve the update to the Integrated Risk Management Plan which included approval to continue work to support the ambulance service.

During the same meeting it was confirmed that the fire service had launched work to improve its resilience against a cyber attack. Nationally 46 per cent of businesses have identified at least one risk of attack in the last 12 months.

The fire service said it would increase the risk to tier one strategic level until it was confirmed that further assessment for better cyber protection had been put into place. Mr Ansell said; "We are in a good place, we've got good arrangements but until we have had a formal assessment we want to be transparent."