A new Fire Standards Board (FSB) will be overseeing and commissioning professional standards for fire and rescue services across England.
Addressing the Local Government Association’s Fire Commission on 22 May, the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd, announced a new approach to improve professional standards for fire and rescue services across England.
While some professional standards currently exist for fire and rescue services, they are inconsistently applied and the Government believes they can be expanded. A Fire Standards Board will be created to ensure standards are nationally coordinated to a high level across the sector.
The proposal was developed in conjunction with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), Local Government Association and other partners. This new board will be independent from government and supported by the NFCC’s Central Programme Office, which will produce the standards, drawing on external expertise as required.
It will be for the board to determine its workplan but initial issues the Board could consider include: workforce issues like leadership and development; the identification and mitigation of risks; plus fire prevention and the approach to protecting the public from other emergencies.
The board will also be responsible for agreeing priorities in response to the recently published Hackitt Review, the Grenfell Tower inquiry, and other emerging issues facing fire and rescue services.
The Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd said, “We all recognise the bravery and dedication of our firefighters who work tirelessly every day to protect the communities they serve. Creating a new Independent Board to oversee professional standards across England will support the continuous improvement of fire and rescue services and support them to become more professional than ever before.”
The announcement of the new Fire Standards Board reflects one of the changes in a revised Fire and Rescue National Framework for England, which embeds the Government’s fire reform agenda, alongside provisions in the Policing and Crime Act 2017.
The Fire and Rescue National Framework sets priorities and objectives for fire and rescue authorities (FRAs) across England. In addition to the new Fire Standards Board, the changes coming into effect will include: new guidance on how fire and rescue authorities should work with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS); changes in guidance to reflect recent legislative changes to allow mayors and police and crime commissioners to exercise the functions of an FRA; a workforce section which outlines how FRAs should support and develop their workforce; and changes to encourage commercial transformation by FRAs, leading to further collaboration, innovative thinking and sharing of best practice.
The order giving effect to the revised framework was laid before Parliament on 8 May with the framework coming into force on 1 June 2018.