19 May, 2022

Fire Reform White Paper

Democratic accountability and stronger governance the key to better fire and rescue services.

Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners from across the country have welcomed the government’s Fire Reform White Paper published today.

Following the launch of the White Paper, Commissioner Zoë, Stephen Mold (Northamptonshire), Ben Adams (Staffordshire) and Roger Hirst (Essex) said:

“We need professional, democratically accountable fire and rescue services that are connected to the communities they serve. This White Paper is a positive way of professionalising the service, investing in better training, stronger leadership and a clearer focus on saving lives and reducing risk across our communities.

“Everyone acknowledges that fire and rescue needs reform and can’t continue to operate a delivery model designed for a world before the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the Kerslake Review or the recent reports from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Fire and Rescue Services.

“There is too much focus on simply response when the service needs to be protecting people vulnerable to fire and other hazards. The White Paper is an important step in making that happen.

“Firefighters do a good job and deserve better support in the way this white paper lays out stronger governance and a College of Fire and Rescue to support high standards and improve the implementation of best practice across the country.

“The Fire and Rescue Service is well placed to deal with a range of risks and hazards and keep our communities safer. It does this best by working in partnership with the other emergency services and other public services across their area.

“Areas, such as Northamptonshire, Staffordshire and Essex, that have already moved to a single democratically accountable governance model, are seeing the benefits; clearer strategic direction, improved local relationships and a focused commitment to delivering for the public. Services have also benefited from much stronger financial management and scrutiny while improving their collaboration with local partners such as the Ambulance Service.

“The role these Services have had in the response to the COVID Pandemic highlighted the huge opportunities for the public and fire and rescue services if they are freed from a confused and outdated governance model and can build a stronger more direct relationship with the public.”

Areas with a Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner have delivered significant benefits to the public and fire and rescue services, including:

  • Strong local accountability, with PFCCs directly elected by the public every four years and directly accountable to the communities they serve.
  • Direct public participation and engagement by consulting the public on local priorities, ensuring people have a real say on how fire and rescue services are run and delivered in their area.
  • Value for money on behalf of the public by setting an open and transparent fire and rescue service budget based on local priorities, and ensuring the funding is effectively spent on key fire and rescue services which directly benefit local communities.
  • Better public safety by enabling greater collaboration across blue light services, including
  • sharing buildings
  • sharing some back-office services to re-invest saving back into front-line services.
  • developing shared rural prevention officers for ambulance, police and fire and rescue
  • sharing specialist equipment and resources, such as fire safety dogs
  • making the most of educational opportunities with schools
  • Oversight of both fire and policing which also allows PFCCs to identify areas of shared risk and explore how both emergency services can work together to protect the vulnerable.

Further examples featured from the four areas with Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners and two areas looking to move to this governance model is available in Fire and Rescue Governance in Focus