Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Third Report

2  Context of Change

The Vision

3. The White Paper sets out the Government's vision for the Fire Service in England and Wales.[3] This vision includes;

  • Renaming the service 'The Fire and Rescue Service' to reflect the wider rescue role the Service undertakes
  • Placing the wider rescue and community role of the Service on a proper statutory footing
  • Refocusing the Service on preventing fires occurring
  • Reorganising staff, stations and appliances based on risk assessment through Integrated Risk Management Plans (IRMPs)
  • Repealing the Fire Services Act 1947
  • Creating regional fire and rescue authorities in regions that choose to have elected regional assemblies, with regional management boards for other areas
  • Overhauling fire institutions, and the creation of two forums, one for practitioners and one for business and community safety stakeholders
  • Reforming pay negotiating bodies
  • Introducing an Integrated Personal Development System (IPDS) to bring about multi-level entry into the Service, reducing the number of ranks and accelerating development for the most able
  • Reforming the working culture to promote diversity
  • Ending bullying and harassment
  • Reforming pensions, discipline and disputes arrangements; and
  • Improving the conditions of retained fire fighters

4. Most submissions support the broad thrust of the White Paper:

    "The FBU broadly welcomes the aims and objectives, as set out in paragraph 1.6 of the White Paper. The Paper raises a plethora of issues and areas for reform, which will mean the biggest and most radical shake up of the Fire Service and working practices for 50 years."[4]

    "[…] the Fire Officers' Association broadly welcomes the publication of the White Paper and its potential benefits for both the direct stakeholders within the service, and the communities we seek to serve."[5]

    "CACFOA very much welcomes the publication of the White Paper and the opportunities it provides for a Fire and Rescue Service "fit for purpose" in the Twenty First Century."[6]


5. In the last 23 years there have been seven major reviews of the Fire Service, as set out in Table One. The White Paper acknowledges that "all these studies have pointed to the need to overhaul fire prevention and fire fighting, and to change the culture of the fire and rescue service."[7] Yet it is clear from the evidence received that none of these reviews have led to substantial change in the Service. There is awareness that the same fate could face the proposals outlined in the White Paper:

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Prepared 23 January 2004