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FRAMEWORK PUTS PEOPLE AT THE HEART OF THE FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE

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Placing an even greater emphasis on fire prevention and making the ...
Placing an even greater emphasis on fire prevention and making the

Fire and Rescue Service a better place in which to work are key

priorities set out in the draft National Framework for the Fire and

Rescue Service, published today by the Government.

The Framework, part of the package of reforms detailed in the White

Paper, Our Fire and Rescue Service, pulls together - in one place for

the first time - the role of the Fire and Rescue Service. It sets the

objectives the government expects the service to achieve; what

actions Fire and Rescue Authorities should take; and what support

central government will provide.

Fire and rescue service minister Nick Raynsford said: 'The publication

of this draft National Framework represents another major step forward

in the modernisation of the Fire and Rescue Service. For the first

time we will have one document giving the Service clear direction and

providing shared ownership.

'Fire and Rescue Authorities and the government are committed to

delivering a better service to our communities. At the heart of the

Framework is a partnership approach to protecting the community -

preventing fires from happening in the first place, while ensuring

that the Fire and Rescue Service provides an effective response to

fire and other emergencies, including responding to new challenges

such as terrorism. But it also sets out our expectations to ensure

that the Fire and Rescue Service is a better place in which to work.

'The need for effective partnership is a key theme of the Framework

which in effect will be a 'contract' between the government and the

Fire and Rescue Authorities. That is why this is a draft Framework

and why we will now consult widely before publishing the final

version in the Spring.'

The draft Framework - now out for consultation until March - will

become a statutory document once the Fire and Rescue Services Bill

becomes law. In due course it will help to shape the comprehensive

performance assessment for the Fire and Rescue Service which will be

undertaken by the Audit Commission.

The Framework also reaffirms the key role the Fire and Rescue Service

plays in responding to major incidents such as terrorism, including

the move to regional control rooms as part of the that resilience

agenda.

Mr Raynsford also announced that the government was today publishing

Mott MacDonald's most recent study into fire and rescue control

rooms, and the Fire Service Inspectorate's review of the subject. The

study concluded that regional control rooms would significantly

enhance national resilience.

He said: 'Control rooms and control room operators already play a

vital role in delivering the service, and will in future be an

essential part of our resilience agenda. This regional approach is not

about undermining local responsiveness or adding a layer of

bureaucracy. It is about improving the effectiveness of the Service.

'We find the conclusions of the study persuasive, but we recognise

the important implicationsthat the proposed new approach would have

for the Service, including for control room staff.

'We are keen to work with all our partners in the Fire and Rescue

Service to establish the new national network of linked regional

control rooms which is now needed. We have today written to the

Practitioners' Forum and Fire and Rescue Authorities asking for their

views on our proposed approach.'

Notes

1. Nick Raynsford announced the publication of the draft national

framework in the following Parliamentary written statement:

In June the Government published the White Paper, 'Our Fire and

Rescue Service'. It set out a package of reforms designed to improve

the service and to save more lives. Today the Office of the Deputy

Prime Minister is publishing a draft Fire and Rescue National

Framework that will outline how to implement the White Paper's

propos als. It sets out the Government's objectives for the Fire and

Rescue Service and what Fire and Rescue Authorities should do to

machieve these outcomes. It also sets out what the Government will do

to improve the service and what support it will provide to Fire and

Rescue Authorities. In due course, the expectations in the Framework

will also help to shape the Audit Commission's fire and rescue

Comprehensive Performance Assessment.

The Framework is based on a partnership approach. The Government is

committed to giving Fire and Rescue Authorities adequate support and

flexibility to help them meet the specific needs of their local

communities. For this reason we are initially issuing it in draft

form and welcome comments and suggestions by 12 March 2004 on both

the proposals in the draft Framework and how to make the future

versions as helpful and relevant as possible. We aim to publish the

first National Framework in Spring 2004.

The legislation announced in the Queen's speech will place the

Framework on a statutory footing. It will require the Government to

report to Parliament on the extent to which Fire and Rescue

Authorities are acting in accordance with the National Framework and

any steps the Government has taken to ensure that they do.

We are also today publishing Mott MacDonald's most recent study into

fire and rescue control rooms, and HM Fire Service Inspectorate's

review of the subject. The study reinforced the report's conclusions

that regional control rooms would significantly enhance national

resilience. The Government is persuaded by the conclusions of study

and proposes to establish regional control rooms in England,

including the one already established in London, working closely

with Fire and Rescue Authorities through their Regional Management

Boards. We have written to the Practitioners Forum asking for their

views on our proposed approach.

The Fire and Rescue Service is, rightly, widely admired for its

professionalism and the dedication of its staff. The White Paper made

clear, however, that it was also in need of urgent reform.

Publication of the draft National Framework sets out the Government's

expectations of the Service, what Fire and Rescue Authorities should

do and the support the Government will provide. It demonstrates the

Government's continued commitment, in partnership with Fire and

Rescue Authorities, to driving down the number of fire deaths and

injuries, improving fire and rescue services and saving more lives.

Copies of the Draft Fire and Rescue National Framework 2004/05, the

full Mott MacDonald report, the summary of the Mott MacDonald report,

and the HM Fire Service Inspectorate review are available in the

libraries of both Houses.

2. The draft framework is available here.Copies of the Mott Macdonald and best value

reports are available on the website: www.odpm.gov.uk/fire

3. The framework does not cover Scotland and Northern Ireland, where

responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service is fully devolved to

the Scottish Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly

respectively. The government is committed to devolving

responsibilities for fire fighting and fire safety issues in Wales to

the National Assembly for Wales. The government is working with the

Assembly on how and when this will be achieved, and how to ensure

that devolution is consistent with broader emergency and civil

contingency arrangements. The NAW will be consulting on its own

framework.

4. The Fire White Paper, Our Fire and Rescue Service, is available here.

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