ability to respond to a major incident were highlighted today by fire
and rescue service minister Nick Raynsford.
programme to ensure the FRS is properly equipped and trained to deal
with a wide range of emergencies - was an opportunity to review the
work already done and set out the vision for the future.
The government has already invested£56m in the first phase of
the programme providing mass decontamination equipment - and is now
rolling-out phase two with a further investment of up to£132m
to provide urban search and rescue equipment and high volume water
Mr Raynsford said:
'New Dimension is not about something different as most of today's
threats are not new. It is about giving the fire and rescue service
more scope to respond to a range of challenges, whether from
terrorism or other major emergencies. So our aim must be to fully
integrate the 'new dimension' with the current multi-dimensional work
of the service.
'The flooding incidents in Carlisle and Boscastle showed the value of
the new high volume water pumping equipment, while the collapse of
the Stockline plastics factory in Glasgow was an early test of our
enhanced capability in urban search and rescue. But neither of these
was the result of terrorism, they were incidents to which the fire
and rescue service would have responded, albeit with more restricted
options for tackling them.'
By spring 2004 80 incident response units for mass
decontamination had been deployed and all fire-fighters in England
and Wales are now trained to support a CBRN incident (Chemical,
Biological, Radiological or Nuclear). At least one equipped urban
search and rescue team has been located in each region and since
providing the equipment, the kit has been widely tested in emergency
exercises and real life situations across the country.
Over the coming months the programme will continue to improve the
capability of the FRS through the deployment of high volume water
pumps with all regions to have one pump by April 2005 and the
rolling-out of urban search and rescue equipment across the country.
Mr Raynsford added:
'This important programme is not simply about providing the equipment
and training for the fire and rescue service. Crucial to the
effective handling of any major incident is ensuring we have the
right infrastructure and support systems in place assisting the
emergency services. This is why we are also funding improvements in
the fire and rescue service's radio communications system and
establishing regional fire control centres.
'We are committed to continuing the work to provide the equipment and
the infrastructure to deliver an enhanced capability throughout the
fire and rescue service. There is still work to do and this why the
commitment and professionalism of the fire and rescue service and
our other partners is vital to us moving forward and achieving our
Alan Doig, president of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA)
'CFOA has been fully engaged and support the New Dimension project.
The programme has made great strides over the past year in delivering
a step change in the nation's capability to cope with a major
incident and better protect the public.
'Today's event underlines the value of partnership in the service and
the close working between CFOA and government - at national and local
1. The event today was
attended by over 150 representatives from all English regions and the
devolved administrations. Delegates represented included fire and
rescue authorities, local government, the Local Government
Association and the Home Office.
2. The training of fire-fighters takes place at the Fire Service
College in Moreton-in-the-Marsh, but before this training facility
was in place, to provide the UK with an interim capability over 500
members of the FRS were trained at Texas A&M University. This
training formed the basis of courses now provided at the Fire Service
College which has since become the major provider of such training
outside the USA.
3. The government is taking forward plans to create a resilient
national network of regional fire and rescue control centres (moving
from 46 control rooms to 9), which will make possible more effective
responses to local, regional or national incidents of
significant/substantial scale or complexity.
4. The Firelink Project is an important investment in radio
communications for the fire and rescue service. It involves the
replacement of each fire and rescue authority's radio system with,
for the first time, a UK wide-area radio system. As a standard
national system, Firelink will introduce national roaming for all
fire and rescue appliances and vehicles, as well as bringing improved
resilience and inter-operability within the service and with other
emergency services. This will play an important part in assuring the
delivery of operational priorities, including a response to the
effects of a terrorist or other major incident.