The IG Central and Local Government Hub spoke with Andrew Lynch, Director of Commmunications, The Fire Sector Federation and Editor and Publisher of FIRE Magazine, to get his thoughts on what the future holds for the future of UK fire and rescue services.
Q. In January 2020, HMICFRS released their State of Fire and Rescue Annual Assessment for 2019, what impact do you think the assessment and inspections will have on Fire and Rescue Services across the UK?
A. It should have an enormous impact for individual fire and rescue services, especially those requiring improvement. On a broader scale, it provides a narrative on where the Service is at, specifically around culture and leadership with significant gains needing to be made on both counts. However, factor in the government’s building safety changes and recommendations coming from the Grenfell Inquiry and no foreseeable input or improvement in resources and it’s clear to see that there’s a lot of work to be done with little support. On the plus side, emergency service workers always strive to provide the best possible service to the public and all stakeholders in the fire sector will come together to support that central aim. It’s still a world-leading fire and rescue service but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.
Q. Communication is vital between Fire and Rescue Services, as well as other Emergency Services, which has seen the Home Office establish the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme. How impactful do you think this programme has been and could be for the sector?
A. If you look at every major incident over the last 50 years and communications failures are always pinpointed in the inquiries with a long list of recommendations that somehow do not get fulfilled. The project is overdue and essential with the rising tide of terrorist threats, not to mention the increasing number of incidents related to climate change. Let’s hope ESMCP meets the grade.
Q. The role of Fire and Rescue Services has greatly expanded over recent years, attracting a more diverse workforce than ever before. How important is communicating this change to the public and challenging the stereotypical image of firefighters?
A. Pivotal. Stereotypes are imprinted on the national conscience and it’s difficult to replace outdated imagery and understanding. That is why the role of government is essential in helping sell the service career and provide central support to market the fire and rescue service as a career of choice.
Q. Finally, as Director of Communications for the Fire Sector Federation and Chair of The Fire Fighters Charity what main issues and areas will you be focusing on throughout 2020?
A. Grenfell has been all-encompassing for our membership and it is the Fire Sector Federation’s intent to keep the pressure on to ensure the changes recommended in Dame Judith Hackitt’s report, Building a Safer Future: Independent Review of Building Regulations, are delivered. As part of that, we’re championing third-party certification and working with stakeholders and government to introduce competency and standards to ensure a safer built environment. I believe the Fire Sector Federation’s role is pivotal in building a broad consensus from the fire sector’s vastly knowledgeable and experienced contributors – our responsibility is to ensure our voice is heard and fire safety is imprinted in buildings from the foundation up for future generations. The thought leadership role that we fill will ensure our input will continue to help steer fire safety in the UK.
If you wish to learn and hear more from key stakeholders across the Fire and Rescue sector, such as the Fire Brigades Union, Local Government Authority and Fire Fighters Charity, then check out the new Fire and Recuse Hub for more information – www.fireandrescuehub.co.uk