Home Secretary unveils ambitious plans for fire reform
- Robust fire safety reforms across England have been introduced to strengthen fire and rescue services
- New regulations bring majority of Grenfell Tower inquiry recommendations into law
- New measures will keep people safe at home and at work
The most comprehensive plans for fire reform in decades were set out today in the government’s Fire Reform White Paper, which will help strengthen emergency services and make people feel more safe at home.
Today (18 May) the Home Secretary visited Old Kent Road Fire Station alongside the Minister of State for Building Safety and Fires to announce the package which will build on the changes made following the Grenfell Tower fire and on the findings of independent inspection reports.
Changes announced include the coming into force of the Fire Safety Act 2021, which will ensure all apartment buildings are properly assessed for fire risks and the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, which will help ensure that people feel safe in their homes.
At the center of the white paper are plans to provide:
- Increased public safety: by improving the professionalism of the fire and rescue services through modern workforce practices and possibly establishing a Fire and Rescue College.
- Improved Accountability: Through proposals to transfer fire governance to a single elected individual overseeing delivery by operationally independent fire chiefs.
- Better engagement with the public: Through the 10-week consultation, the government will listen to public and stakeholder views, after which it will finalize its reform agenda.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
Keeping the public safe is the government’s priority and the reforms we introduced today will strengthen and support our hard-working fire and rescue services.
The white paper will transform the way firefighters are trained and enable fire and rescue services to leverage their strengths and leadership.
The tragedy at Grenfell must never happen again and we continue to advance the implementation of the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
Fire Minister Lord Greenhalgh said:
I am delighted to present this comprehensive plan to reform our fire and rescue services and improve fire safety.
The Grenfell Inquiry and independent inspections show that reform is needed and we tackle the issues head on with this white paper.
Fire professionals step in to protect and serve their communities and it’s only natural that they have the right tools to do their job effectively.
There has been a legacy of reform to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and culture of fire and rescue services in recent years, such as increased emphasis and funding for fire protection and fire protection. aiding services across England to respond to the lessons highlighted by the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
On this basis, the Home Secretary also announced the entry into force of the Fire Safety Act and the launch of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022. These legislative changes pave the way for meeting many of the remaining recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry of safety improvements in multi-occupancy residential buildings, such as ensuring that fire and rescue services have the information they need to plan their response to a fire in a high-rise building and impose a minimum frequency of checking all fire doors in mid-rise and high-rise building blocks of flats.
Additionally, the government has responded to consultation on personal emergency evacuation plans and launched a new consultation on its set of alternative proposals to support the fire safety of residents whose ability to self-evacuate may be at risk. compromised.
This includes a new proposal known as ’emergency evacuation information sharing’ which would require designated ‘responsible persons’ – people responsible for fire safety in their building – from buildings most at risk assess the needs of their most vulnerable residents and consider what could reasonably be done to mitigate any fire safety risk.
The fire and rescue services will also receive up-to-date information on where these residents live in the building – this will be used to inform their operational strategy and prioritize resources to assist and effect the evacuation of these residents.
Mark Hardingham, Chairman of the National Council of Fire Chiefs, said:
The UK Fire and Rescue Service has much to be proud of and is held in very high regard by the public and the partner organizations we work with.
Every day, people across the UK gain confidence in the 999 prevention, protection and response services they receive from firefighters and staff.
The white paper offers a new opportunity to continually improve what fire and rescue services do, while building on the fantastic work we see every day.
The NFCC has an important role to play in advising and implementing future reforms and improvements. We will now carefully review the document and respond to the consultation.