Addressing the Local Government Association’s Fire Commission, Nick Hurd (the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service) has announced a new approach to improve professional standards for Fire and Rescue Services across England. While some professional standards currently exist for Fire and Rescue Services, they’re inconsistently applied and the Government believes that they can be expanded. A Fire Standards Board will be created to ensure that standards are nationally co-ordinated to a high level across the sector.
The proposal has been developed in conjunction with the National Fire Chiefs’ Council (NFCC), the Local Government Association and other partners. This new Board will be independent from Government and supported by the NFCC’s central programme office which will produce the standards, drawing on external expertise as and when required.
It will be for the Board to determine its work plan, but initial issues the Board could consider include workforce issues such as leadership and development, the identification and mitigation of risks and fire prevention and the approach to protecting the public from other emergencies.
The Board will also be responsible for agreeing priorities in response to the recently published Hackitt Review, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and other emerging issues facing Fire and Rescue Services.
Bravery and dedication
“We all recognise the bravery and dedication of our firefighters who work tirelessly every day to protect the communities they serve,” said Nick Hurd. “Creating a new independent Board to oversee professional standards across England will underpin the continuous improvement of Fire and Rescue Services and support them to become more professional than ever before.”
This move is a key element of the Government’s ambitious fire reform programme which aims to improve the professionalism, effectiveness and accountability of Fire and Rescue Services by:
*establishing an independent inspection regime – Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) – for fire and rescue
*encouraging employers to drive workforce reform, including increasing the diversity of the workforce
*bringing greater accountability to the work of local Fire and Rescue Services by enabling Police and Crime Commissioners to take on responsibility for them where a strong local case is made for doing so
*supporting them to transform commercially with more efficient procurement and collaboration
*increasing their transparency with the publication of further information to allow the public to hold their local Fire and Rescue Service to account
*creating a new national website in the summer