Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted from CACFOA (28 May 2001)



  1.1  Following the attack on the World Trade Centre (WTC), in New York on 11 September 2001, the DTLR Minister with responsibilty for fire requested HM Chief Inspector of Fire Services to examine as a matter of urgency the fire services' ability to respond to major incidents.

  1.2  The Fire Service will be expected to provide the primary emergency containment response in the aftermath of any attack, the loss of life amongst the fire crews in New York is testament to this. It is therefore imperative that sufficient planning, equipment, operational procedures and training are established to enable the Fire Service to respond to any such incident.

  1.3  The New Dimensions Group was subsequently established to evaluate Fire Service capabilities and to make recommendations to ensure that the fire service is sufficiently trained and equipped to deal with major chemical, nuclear, biological and conventional terrorist incidents on a national scale.

2.  BID

  2.1  The New Dimensions Group has identified the sum of £217 millions, in addition to the £53 millions already earmarked by the DTLR for decontamination, as that required to bring the Fire Services' capabilities to a level where it can discharge its responsibilities to public expectations.

  2.2  The Group identified the following areas that require expenditure for immediate enhancement:

    —  Protection and Safety of the Public;

—  Search and Rescue Facilities;

—  Planning and Training;

—  Protection and Safety of Fire Fighters;

—  National Co-ordination;

—  The London Fire Brigade.


  3.1  Protection and Safety of the Public. The Fire Service is to be respnsible for the provision of mass-decontamination under New Dimension planning. The provision of the necessary equipment, the trained resources and operational delivery following a CBRN attack, is to be based upon regionally located resources.

  3.2  Search and Rescue Facilities. Much of the equipment necessary to support this capability will be specialist in nature, specifically provided under a mutual aid arrangement. This equipment is required to ensure an effective response that will save lives, property, increase the number of successful rescues and reduce the level of injury to both the public and firefighters.

  3.3  Planning and Training. New dimension requires planning for a strategic, generic and flexible response to cover the wide variety of possible attacks and potential targets. It is necessary for the response to be consistent at national and regional levels with a high level of co-ordination between brigades.

  3.4  Protection of firefighters. Firefighters are exposd to a greater risk of CBRN contamination when carrying out life saving operations. It is therefore essential that their personal protective equipment be enhanced.

  3.5  National Co-ordination. The new threat will require a nationally co-ordinated planning and operational response. There is therefore a requirement for an additional strategic level communications system that allows the Fire Service to interoperate effectively between brigades, other emergency services and agencies in addition to multiple incident sites and co-ordination centres.

  3.6  The London Fire Brigade. While most of the needs of London are encompassed within the above provision, the risk to London is far greater in its magnitude, as is the potential effect, and requires additional consideration. In additon to making the mutual aid planning for the Southeast London-centric, as the seat of national planning and unified service response, London requires additional and specific arrangements for fallback facilities.

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Prepared 24 July 2002