Firefighters across the UK have agreed to deliver food, medicine, drive ambulances and retrieve bodies during the coronavirus outbreak.
Under the new crisis agreement firefighters will be able to deliver the essentials to the vulnerable.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), fire chiefs and employers will still maintain their core services, attending fires and accidents.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “We face a public health crisis unparalleled in our lifetimes. The coronavirus outbreak is now a humanitarian emergency and firefighters rightly want help their communities.
“Firefighters are fantastic at teamwork, are experienced in driving emergency vehicles and, as a service rooted in the community, may be best placed to deliver essential items to the most vulnerable.
“Many fear the loss of life in this outbreak could be overwhelming – and firefighters, who often handle terrible situations and incidents, are ready to step in to assist with body retrieval.”
Wrack told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “I think this is a huge challenge across public services and also clearly we need to ensure that firefighters and others are protected in terms of personal protective equipment because no-one can do their job if their own safety is compromised.”