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PROPOSED FIRE SERVICE CHANGES PUT PUBLIC SAFETY FIRST

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London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority chair Val Shawcross today welcomed the government White Paper* on the ...
London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority chair Val Shawcross today welcomed the government White Paper* on the future fire service as a major step forward to improve safety in the capital.

She said the proposals contained in the White Paper published this week would pave the way for a service that would save more lives and make a real difference to people living in London.

'Already we have started work on mapping fire service activity across the capital in order to help us plan how we use our people, equipment and stations to respond most effectively to the needs of the people who live and work in London. At the moment, the way we respond to incidents is based on the type of property in an area, not the risk to life.'

She added that many of the proposals in the White Paper package will help make London a safer city by putting the emphasis on public safety and preventing deaths, injuries and damage to the economy, property and the environment caused by fires and the other emergencies the brigade is called to.

'More lives can be saved in the capital if we work with the community and partner organisations, such as the London boroughs, health service, other blue light organisations and the voluntary sector, to tackle the causes of these incidents.

'In London we are proud of the way we already actively work to promote smoke alarms, particularly in the homes of people we know are most at risk from fire, and to advise people on how to avoid danger. We want to see greater use of sprinklers in homes, particularly where people are most vulnerable. We also work closely with businesses and those responsible for public buildings, encouraging the use of the latest safety features to protect staff, customers and other people who use them.

Acting commissioner Roy Bishop said: 'The planned changes will allow us to build on what we do well now and to develop our service to respond to new challenges.

'The public will benefit and so will our staff, through improved pay, a wider range of career opportunities and the potential for more flexible working patterns. This should also attract a wider range of entrants into our service, so that our workforce better reflects the make-up of the diverse community we serve.

'Renaming the service to include rescue reflects the wide scope of work we already do and the expertise we've gained. At the moment we are gearing up to respond to potential major disasters, including terrorist attacks, with new equipment and techniques to improve safety for the public and our firefighters.'

The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) will publish its first integrated risk management plan in September setting out the approach. An important part of this process will be widespread consultation in September with residents, partner organisations and staff.

Authority chair Val Shawcross said: 'As the deputy prime minister stressed, this is about building on what is good in the fire service, working with the community torecognise where the dangers are and identify how we can respond effectively to them.'

* see herefor details

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