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GOVERNMENT'S FIRE AND RESCUE NATIONAL FRAMEWORK MUST 'WALK THE WALK' ON PARTNERSHIP WORKING

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The LGA has today welcomed the publication of the government's national ...
The LGA has today welcomed the publication of the government's national

framework for the fire and rescue services* but cautioned that its success

would be largely dependent on government's ability to work in real

partnership to deliver change in the service.

The Framework - which sets out the government's objectives for the fire and

rescue service - is designed to not only provide guidance in helping deliver

a better service that saves more lives, but also sets out what central

government will do to improve the service and what support fire and rescue

services can expect.

The 'contract' between central and local government will also provide the

means for both Parliament and the public to scrutinise the government's

performance on delivery.

The focus of the national framework is therefore on delivery at the local

and regional levels. Its three core principal objectives are:

- To provide clarity about the outcomes and objectives the government wants

to achieve;

- To set out government's expectation of fire and rescue services and

regional management boards;

- To explain what the government will do to support fire and rescue services

and regional management boards to meet these objectives.

However, the LGA has stressed that the framework must not become a

'blueprint' for service delivery. It believes that fire and rescue

authorities must be given the flexibility they need in order to effectively

meet the needs of their own local communities. This flexibility must remain

at the heart of the government's approach in order for the framework to

truly represent a partnership between local and central government. Any move

back towards a more prescriptive approach would turn back the clock to when

national standards resulted in resources being allocated according to

nationally assessed building risks rather than local assessment of the

potential for loss of life.

For example, gove rnment's plans to insist on the creation of regional

control rooms appears to contradict the framework's claim that it is

designed to allow local solutions and consequently local accountability.

Careful consideration must now be given to regional control rooms by fire

and rescue authorities before any final decisions are taken.

The LGA welcomed the government's commitment within the framework to begin a

comprehensive review of fire safety in building regulations and would like

to see this happen as a matter of urgency. In particular the intention to

look at the case for increasing the requirements for automatic sprinklers

where risks are greatest.

* See here.

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