Government eventually bowed to political pressure to It is also of concern that statistics for the last 12
months show an increase in the number of accidental
allow a debate on the fire and rescue service national ﬁre deaths. The next set of quarterly statistics need to
show a reduction in the number of all ﬁre deaths rather
framework document, although not on the floor of than showing no increase on the last quarter due to ﬁre
deaths now plateauing out at this higher level. It is crucial
the House of Commons. The work was given to a that any long term trend is closely monitored.
The FBU supports the introduction of meaningful
special cross-party standing committee of MPs, all of national performance indicators to measure progress
towards fire death reduction and other targets on a
whom were given a detailed briefing by the union … regular basis.
The union is concerned that the current national
targets only become ‘measurable’ in the year 2010 and
HE union supports the new risk-based approach that no targets or indicators have been set that will
to planning fire and rescue service activity and require ﬁre authorities to demonstrate that their ﬁre
resource deployment. and community safety activities are improving public
But this approach needs to be underpinned by a safety standards and reducing death and injuries from
national risk-based standard and comprehensive national ﬁre before that date.
ﬁre service strategy policy to replace the 1985 standards
of ﬁre cover. This is to avoid the 58 varieties of IRMPs IRMPS
that appear to be developing. We have serious concerns about the lack of time allowed
National standards for constructing integrated risk management plans, and
are needed to ensure that the failure to pilot the IRMP process.
both the public and the At national level there has to be a far more integrated
workforce are protected and common approach to developing guidance on IRMPs
and that service provision and the setting of targets and best value performance
doe s not degener ate indicators. (BVPIs) for ﬁre and rescue authorities. The
into a postcode lottery government needs to produce benchmark standards
for levels of prevention, that ﬁre and rescue authorities will be both guided and
detection or intervention. measured by.
The union believes
that such a national COMMUNITY FIRE SAFETY
standard and national The four areas of community ﬁre safety need to be
strategy should have zero placed under the one heading of prevention but this is
ﬁre deaths as its central not a panacea for all ﬁre problems. While undoubtedly
target. important, it is just one element of a ﬁre safety strategy
While the commitment to further reduce ﬁre deaths and in itself no quick fix solution to reducing fires in
is welcome, the FBU believes that the new targets are not buildings and deaths and casualties from ﬁres.
ambitious enough. CFS should not be viewed in isolation nor should it be
In 1988 the report of the community ﬁre safety task allowed to siphon off skilled resources from other ﬁre
group established ﬁve-year targets as follows: safety factors, notably ﬁre safety enforcement.
● To reduce the number of accidental ﬁres in dwellings
by one third ARSON REDUCTION
● To reduce the number of accidental fire deaths by As with community ﬁre safety, arson reduction programmes
40% have to be developed as part of an overall strategic
● To reduce serious non-fatal casualties by 5% year on community safety plan that develops local tactical initia-
year tives to deal with the growing problem of arson.
● To achieve measurable annual improvement in ﬁre The proposals for arson reduction in the framework
safety awareness, attitudes and behaviour. document demonstrate a lack of understanding of what
But under the government’s proposed fire death a properly developed and fully integrated arson control
reduction targets, more people could die in ﬁres than programme could achieve when merged with other
at present, yet brigade targets still be achieved. This is ﬁre safety programmes under the common title of ﬁre
because the ﬁre reduction targets only cover reducing prevention.
deaths in accidental ﬁres in the home. It is not purely a ﬁre and rescue service issue. It must
Deaths as a result of arson are speciﬁcally excluded, be approached in a fully developed partnership ﬂowing
but ﬁre statistics for the last 12 months show the number from a comprehensive and strategic IRMP process.
of deaths due to arson are rising. Another problem has been the lack of any real co-
The FBU believes that a target of zero ﬁre deaths is ordination between the Home Ofﬁce – which has respon-
not simply desirable but is achievable through effective sibility for police and criminal matters – and the Ofﬁce of
planning and resourcing of preventive, protective and the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) which has responsi-
emergency response strategies. bility for ﬁre matters.
It is also a simpler method of judging whether all ﬁre The FBU recommends that the work and planning
deaths are being reduced and avoids the temptation of ■ A full copy of the of the ODPM’s arson control forum (ACF) should be
some deaths being attributed to arson simply to help hit document is available combined with other groups such as the practitioners
the targets for reducing accidental deaths. on www.fbu.org.uk forum and the business and community safety forum
22 Fireﬁghter April 2005
into one common national ﬁre safety body. At a local
level these issues should be combined into ﬁre and rescue
service IRMPs and fully resourced.
The building regulations offer a long-term solution to FBU AND
many ﬁre safety problems in the built environment. The RAYNSFORD
government says in the framework document that it is
keen to improve ﬁre safety by all reasonable means and
that it will consider carefully the role of sprinklers as part FOR ONCE!
of a package of measures in buildings. THIS was ﬁre
We have to ask which part of government this is as minister Nick
for first time
not all departments seem so keen to consider sprinklers. Raynsford’s answer to
The Department for Education and Skills is responsible parliamentary question
for school buildings that have one of the highest ﬁre loss last month:
rates for any type of building. Yet we understand it is Nigel Waterson
positively hostile to such a proposal. (Con, Eastbourne; A WIDENED FBU parliamentary group was due to hold its
We also understand that there may be concerns about Opposition inaugural meeting in March as Fireﬁghter went to press.
existing ﬁre safety standards. It is a simple equation: if spokesperson on General secretary Andy Gilchrist was set to attend,
business saves money by lowering building ﬁre safety Economic Affairs): along with John McGhee, national ofﬁcer responsible
protection standards, then ﬁre and rescue authorities To ask the Deputy for the union’s political work. Andrew Dismore MP (Lab,
and the taxpayer may have to pay more to increase inter- Prime Minister Hendon) is chairing the group, Michael Clapham MP (Lab,
vention response levels to deal with the increased risk. what assessment Barnsley West and Penistone) will be vice-chair and John
he has made of the McDonnell MP (Lab Hayes and Harlington) is expected to
HEALTH AND SAFETY implications for be secretary.
The service still needs to improve its health and safety tackling domestic The group was to be fully briefed by Andy Gilchrist and
record and the FBU needs to continue to play a full role in ﬁres if regional John McGhee on our key workplace campaigns – pensions;
the improvement of health and safety standards across control centres are regionalisation of emergency ﬁre controls; retained ﬁre-
the whole of the service. established; and if he ﬁghter recruitment and equality; and attacks on ﬁre-
The union expects the fullest use and provision of will make a statement. ﬁghters.
facilities for worker health and safety representatives in Nick Raynsford: The MPs in this new group have already sent letters
meeting this challenge. technology to be used requesting urgent talks with deputy prime minister John
in the regional control Prescott on the issue of FBU members’ pensions and
NEW DIMENSION centres for the Fire the need for a new national standard for ﬁre and rescue
The FBU would like to see included in the framework and Rescue Service service emergency response planning (see page 20).
document a more speciﬁc explanation of how the govern- will automatically “An effective parliamentary voice for firefighters
ment intends to ensure that ﬁre authorities can meet the locate callers from the and emergency ﬁre control staff is greatly needed as we
additional resource requirements as envisaged in the New telephone network, approach the Government’s planned changes for the Fire
Dimension initiative. detect the appliance Service,” said Andrew Dismore.
While the capital investment in equipment is signiﬁ- with the appropriate “The FBU parliamentary group will be invaluable for
cant and welcome, there are clear resource implications skills and equipment the FBU to have an effective and co-ordinated parlia-
for personnel and training. Any major incident or incidents which can be most mentary group consistently raising the union’s concerns
will need the response of a number of entire brigades over quickly mobilised to with Ministers and fellow MPs and using every available
what may be considerable periods of time. the incident and direct parliamentary channel to advance our cause. I am very
We have major concerns that there will simply not it along the most honoured to be an active member of the new group.”
be enough personnel to deal properly with either the effective route to the John McDonnell said the establishment of a parlia-
incidents themselves or their aftermath. incident. This will help mentary group of MPs on behalf of the union provided
Continuing to seek a reduction in the numbers of the ﬁre and rescue ﬁreﬁghters and emergency ﬁre control staff for the ﬁrst
the frontline service which will have to deal with such service to reach all time in the history of the FBU with an organised voice in
incidents will, in our view, seriously undermine the ability incidents, including Parliament to represent the union and its members. “We
of the service to properly respond to such incidents. We domestic ﬁres, quicker will be standing up for the rights of FBU members and the
believe such an approach is self-defeating. and so save more lives. future of the Fire Service,” he said.
We recommend an increase in wholetime personnel in David Drew, Labour and Co-operative MP for Stroud
No we don’t agree
the region of 2.5% (around 1,000) as the minimum needed welcomed the development, saying he greatly valued
with you on regional
and that the number of retained personnel be brought up his links with the FBU. “The previous group brought us
controls Mr Raynsford,
to at least the full establishment. together during the very bitter and painful pay and condi-
but we applaud the
If this does not happen, entire understaffed brigades tions dispute,” he said.
fact that as ﬁre
are likely to be tied up dealing solely with such incidents as “I was pleased to be able to make representations on
minister you ﬁnally
best they can with far fewer (if any) left to deal with what behalf of that group during the path of the legislation
may be other serious incidents such as ﬁres or ﬂooding. and by lobbying government.
correctly, that reaching
The union would also like to see signiﬁcantly larger “I hope that this group can further bind us together
any emergency incident
sums than currently earmarked spent on training all so that we can make sure that the future of the ﬁre and
quicker, and not just
personnel in New Dimension incidents. We recommend a rescue service is properly debated and that there is
ﬁres in people’s houses,
serious rethink of the current approach to both personnel better understanding of the needs of ﬁreﬁghters and
will save more lives!
and training with a view to increasing both. emergency ﬁre control operators in parliament.”.
April 2005 Fireﬁghter 23