In the current world fire outbreaks are frequent and do affect humanity adversely. These outbreaks kill, destroy property and injure people. Because of these effects, legislative requirements have been triggered supporting various mitigation measures. The measures on the other hand, are supposed to be occupational health and safety acts compliant. They should also address effectively all measures necessary for hazard identification, show people at risk and propose measures for curbing the hazards. To do this, risk assessment reports and an Integrated Risk Management is necessary.
Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) in the UK attended to over 877, 000 hazardous cases of fire or fake alarm occurrences in 1 year ending on 30th September 2006. This was reported to be a minor increase on the preceding 12 months. In the statistics, fires in dwelling places were shown to be the lowest in a period of 25 years (56,400, down by 2%). “Fires in other buildings including workplaces and areas where people gather became lowest since 1963 (down by 7% to 33,200) and road vehicle fires fell (by 9% to 60,600) to their lowest total since 1990” (Bugbee, 78).Therefore this paper seeks to show the challenges and opportunities counties and their subsequent Fire and Rescue Services departments face. This paper will also explain how the County Council Fire and Rescue Services operate.
The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, corresponds to an all-inclusive reform of the legislative structure. This act, places prevention at the core of all fire and rescue activities because it centers on the promotion of societal protection and mortality prevention. In addition to this, the act addresses the issues of lessening injuries and an overall fire impact reduction. This act is initiated by several legislative bodies/groups together with the local government.
Societal groups especially Local Governments, have put in place structures for the delivery of fire and rescue services throughout the country. The 2004 Act for example, presents fire authorities with a broad discretion to organize, equip and react to meet all necessary local hazards and priorities. The local governments also decide the ways in which the government gives them revenue support. The county councils under their various councilors are the main fire authorities in the UK. They institute the standards of local service deliverance while distributing funds to make certain that the requirements and expectations of the communities are met. Their duties comprise of the legislative requirement to supply fire and rescue services with a workforce and equipment. This is for the sole purpose of dealing effectively with fires and other hazards that may arise within their areas of jurisdiction.
The County Council Fire and Rescue Service
“The County Council Fire and Rescue Service is part of the Community Safety and Shared Services Directorate. The Chief Fire Officer is the Director of the Community Safety and Shared Services” (Bugbee, 52). Other sections in it are mainly services that include disaster management, Human Resources and monetary services. Because of its affiliation with the council, the FRS (Fire Rescue Service) has the right to use to an extensive variety of facilities and resources which an organization of this kind can offer. These services include education, procurement, affiliation and the relay of information. The County Council’s arrangement of authority includes a Cabinet official with a duty for ensuring community safety that is inclusive of the Fire and Rescue Service. The governance of this integrates an assessment function, while the community protection inspection committee checks the performance of the Cabinet in fulfilling its responsibility as the fire authority. This includes a very important section that is an evaluation of the IRMP (Integrated Risk Management Plan).
Risk Reduction and the Integrated Risk Management Plan
Integrated risk management is a “framework that delivers on the commitment to strengthen risk management practices across many levels in organizations and the public as a whole” (Mathews, 243). This is necessary in many hazardous situations as it plans for an effective and efficient fire and rescue service. This is because it reduces fire occurrences together with its overall effects. “IRMP also reduces life loss, accidents, reduces severity of hazards, and safeguards the environment. The integrated risk assessment plan also identifies risks of these hazards in a given area and carries out the evaluation for the initiation of preventive measures” (Mathews, 42).
In order to come up with a successful hazard reduction method in the modern world, there is an integrated move towards managing hazards. This move joins together fire and other safety edification for the sole purpose of preventing recognized hazards from occurring, “fire protection for businesses and commerce (to ensure they comply with fire safety legislation) and effective emergency response ensuring that there is the right resources in the right places and that the staff is effectively trained” (Mathews, 42). The IRMP (Integrated Risk Management Plan) is one of the responsibilities of the Fire-Authority and is created by the council’s FRS (Fire and Rescue Service). It is again an assessment and a tactical instrument in advising the community on the possible consequences of recognized hazards threatening everybody in the community. It also informs the public how the fire rescue service intends to lessen and manage the hazards by employing traditional and inventive deterrence and intervention strategies. “This ensures that, the right resources are in the right place at the right time while enabling firefighters to respond to emergencies in a flexible and effective way” (Lee, 201). As shown by (Devani, 439) the order of the Integrated Risk Management Plan is as follows:
Communities and local governments (fire service emergency cover kit), prevention, protection, intervention, fire & rescue service, public consultation, reducing the socio economic impact of fires and other incidents, securing value for money, safeguarding the environment and our heritage, reducing the number and severity caused by injuries in fires and other incidents, reducing fire and other incidents and reducing loss of life in fires and other incidents i.e. fire fighter safety (Devani, 439).
The main aim of this plan is to actually make the FRS more receptive to the locally recognized needs while making full use of the available resources. This in turn gives birth to a safer environment and workforce. The processes of the Integrated Risk Management Plan are an essential constituent of the corporate planning progressions that supports fire and rescue actions with the tactical priorities of the Government, the society and the Local Government (CLG). This is again merged with the local fire authority’s County Council. Included in this process, are the yearly action plans. They identify target projects which help in delivering the long-term aspirations of the fire authority. They envelop every area of the FRS from edification processes and enforcement to affiliation, procurement and expertise projects. Each year the fire authority consults with all its stakeholders at a variety of levels for advice before putting into effect their plans.
The risk management plan must also include the following measures: it should involve the identification of hazards that exist and other potential risks; include an evaluation of existing response arrangements and identification of opportunities for improvement, determination of policies and standards for preventing and intervening hazards; determining resources required to meet policies and standards; including action plans to be implemented and the inclusion of systems to be monitored or audited while reviewing the effectiveness and currency of the plan.
The above mentioned plan gives County Council Fire Authorities strategic overviews of the county’s capability in handling fire hazards. The plan also gives information to future resource planning decisions and determines both short-term and long-term policy direction. The vibrant nature of the Integrated Risk Management Plan makes certain that the Fire Service remains receptive to social, economic and communal change. It again determines suitable priorities and service purposes.
There is a certain methodology to be followed in implementing the IRMP. Developing the Integrated Risk Management Plan needs analyses on important data related to the intrinsic and possible risks from fire and other urgent situation in the county. It should also be done while determining the suitable provision of resources for controlling and mitigation against the same hazards. The Integrated Risk Management Plan methodology, should adopt the supporting philosophy of evidence based development. It also seeks to employ quantitative and qualitative data in informing policy improvement, resource distribution and service deliverance standards. It also needs a comparable quality of proof to facilitate performance supervision and management.
Count Council Fire and Rescue Services should make use of the FSEC (Fire Service Emergency Cover) toolkit. The toolkit is supplied by the CLG (Communities and Local Government office) to sustain the Integrated Risk Management Plan process. The system enables supervisors to evaluate existing hazards while ensuring precise response planning. Data inputs to this kind of system reflect on nationwide trends, studies done and focus on local occurrences. Data source obtainable used in the identification of the potential risk include: “population factors – numbers/age/demography/ socio–economic and transient nature, built environment (including specific heritage considerations). Transport infrastructures Environmental hazard assessments Major incident hazard profiling (including hazardous materials threats and civil contingency planning).” (Jones, 68)
In addition to the above mentioned sources this system incorporates experiential data from the past 3 years of service deliverance activity. This is specifically in the areas of: “Prevention – community safety activity Protection – legislative and non–statutory activity Intervention – emergency response to fire and non–fire incidents” (Lee).
The FSEC (Fire Service Emergency Cover) system is supposed provide a dynamic and reliable assessment of risks. The proficient judgment of the service’s tactical managers will be applied to this scrutiny to decide a suitable response strategy to control and alleviate the hazard. “The system also utilizes nationally derived ‘relationships’ to predict the impact of operational intervention and fire safety measures on risk” (Devani, 189). This facility will facilitate optional response strategies to be assessed and notify future planning. Opportunities for the improvement of the service recognized through this process, will integrate deliberations of the significant impact on resources. This may need a disparity of existing stipulation or identify supplementary resource requirements. The Fire Service Emergency Cover (FSCE) system will facilitate a quantified, cost against benefit analysis to hold up any suggested variation to existing resource distribution.
All hazards posed to the community essentially fall under the 4 headings below, that can then be sub divided more into sub–headings which detail the actual hazard. Occasionally hazards will fall under more than a few headings but as shown here the major risk factor is the title under which it is to be found.
Life risk- this risk covers mainly the population. It encompasses the inhabitants of a particular area irrespective of their age, socio economic status, sex, and ethnic group. This also embodies demography, matters of health and safety in the populace, transiency together with crime and disorder.
Environment- in the environment and especially the built environment the considered aspects are like domestic factors, commercial buildings, utilities, the national heritage, edification and medical facilities.
Infrastructure and transport- here we have the roads network, airways, the railway network and the water ways.
Natural environment- the natural environment comprises of the air we breathe, the earth, wind and water.
In order to effectively save from the community from fire hazards we need to establish how many inhabitants are living in a particular county, their ages, their levels of education and their socio-economic backgrounds. There is also the need to establish their ethnicity and transiency nature. To scrutinize risks posed to these people the use of FSEC Mosaic life style computer models is useful. For instance the trend of a certain population can be researched on by means of age ranges over a certain period of time.
In the built environment grouping, the assessment of risks is done on man-made building. These structures are further categorized into “domestic, commercial, crown buildings, medical establishments, educational centers, research facilities, utilities, and historical buildings. Such buildings are mapped and risk-assessed where necessary. Each Fire-Risk Manager in a county is responsible for determining levels of risks to buildings within their area” (Lee, 262).
Another important thing is that a major local response standard should exist when attending to calls generated through automated fire alarm systems. Unnecessary fire alarms generated by these systems result into needless deployment of resources. This in turn increases risks to both the public and firefighters. Calls emanating these sources should be challenged by the fire control and only reacted to when there is a verification of fire on a premise. “Calls from unoccupied premises, or occupied premises where specific risk assessments so determines, an appropriate attendance should be made on receipt of the call. Additionally, if fire is confirmed in any premise, full appropriate attendance should be made without delay” (Greyson, 46).
Traffic and modes of transportation in the country are on the rise therefore causing considerable implications for increasing hazards and the Fire Service’s activity level. This modes of include air travel, the railway network, airways, the road and the water ways. Although major fraction of injury and deaths are caused by road accidents, the other modes of transportation do have significant contributions in these risks. Consequently, each County’s Fire and Rescue Service has the mandate to take care of its area of jurisdiction as far as this matter is concerned. Due to the increase in accidents, the Fire service has realized an increased service activity in this area.
It is also the mandate of the Fire Service to protect the environment. An example is when air is polluted by smoke as a result of fires like from burning buildings, this cannot only pollute the environment but it can cause a health risk as well. The health risk can be in the form of inhalation problems caused by smoke that may contain toxins. Generally the Fire service is supposed to help in the maintaining of hygienic standards, make the public aware of hazardous winds, fire avoidance techniques, timely intervention and reducing of arson cases in the society. “Protecting the environment at both global and local levels is an important issue for fire & rescue services. Globally the service is striving to reduce emissions to the atmosphere and its overall carbon footprint” (Bugbee, 92). County Council Fire & Rescue Services are supposed to allocate time and attempts into attaining this.
Essentially, the County Council Fire Rescue & Services are supposed to prevent, protect and intervene where necessary in their duty to protect the public from fire hazards. They are supposed to; match their service reaction to meet their areas of jurisdiction’s needs, deliver protection strategies for people of all ages, and deliver effectual risk protection and enforcement. Other measures that are compliant to the fire and rescue services act 2004, include ensuring that response targets are met, determination to have negligible impacts on the environment, “developing current multi-agency approach to community safety, ensuring that the highest standards are provided by skillful and cost-effective use of resources, team and corporate achievement, and the delivering of values of equitable service to people” (Bugbee, 92).
Therefore as shown in this paper, when fire safety guidance is given, fire hazard assessments are done, installation of fire fighting equipments in potentially hazardous places is done, and buildings adhere to safety regulations, County Councils can effectively mitigate these hazards through the Fire and Rescue Service.
Bugbee, Amos. Fire rescue management. London: Oxford university press, 1998. Print.
Devani, Patel. Fire hazard mitigation. Delhi: Kathak and sons publishers, 2002. Print.
Greyson, James. “Causes of fires.” International journal of fire control 12.2 (2006): 42-78. Print.
Jones, Daniela. Fire risk reduction. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
Lee, Johnson. Fire prevention measures. Nairobi: East African Publishers, 2008. Print.
Mathews, Daniel. Integrated Risk management plan. International journal on fire management 7. 1 (2002): 36-72Print.