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Fast fire service response praised

11 February 2019

FOLLOWING SEVERAL high-profile and devastating fires last week, fire and rescue services have worked tirelessly across borders to ensure a dedicated and coordinated response was put in place.

These include the tragic house fire in Staffordshire which claimed the life of four children, warehouse fires in both Hampshire and Lancashire – which saw more than 300 firefighters in attendance - and a potential gas explosion in West Yorkshire.

 Roy Wilsher, Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council said, “These incidents highlight the need for a well-trained and well-resourced fire service to ensure they can respond quickly and efficiently, with access to the right equipment. It is essential we can respond to the needs of the communities we serve, while ensuring reassurance and confidence.

“There was a professional and quick reaction to each of these incidents, utilising national protocols. They were attended and supported by fire services from different geographical locations, to ensure the right response.   

“There will have been a number of other notable incidents across the country the public may not be aware of, but the same dedicated response would have been in place.

 “For more than a decade, fire and rescue services have suffered under austerity, with a reduction in whole time firefighters by 23 per cent. It is essential fire and rescue services receive appropriate funding; and I want to see the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review ensure we can resource to risk as well as demand. NFCC is working to provide the government with a robust evidence case to support this.

 “It is also important to recognise the professionalism of fire control room staff who will be the first point of contact for a member of the public. Their role is incredibly important and must be recognised.

 “I would also like to extend my gratitude to support staff, firefighters and other blue light services who attended these incidents and reacted with professionalism and compassion.”

 To give an example of working together across borders, fire services from Oxfordshire, Dorset & Wiltshire, Royal Berkshire and Hertfordshire attended the Ocado fire in Hampshire.

  • Fire services and blue light services operate using JESIP principles which means they are trained and exercised to work together as effectively as possible. In addition, mutual aid agreements give assistance across geographical boundaries.
  • National Operation Guidance provides a framework that delivers policy and tactical guidance, compatible with other emergency services and tailorable to local needs. 
  • The National Coordination and Advisory Framework (NCAF) provides robust and flexible response arrangements to emergencies that can be adapted to the nature, scale and requirements of the incident. It also supports communities affected by emergencies in being returned to normality as quickly as possible, while having communications plans in place between local and central government.