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New Core Code of Ethics designed to sit at heart of Fire and Rescue Services

24 May 2021

A NEW Core Code of Ethics for Fire and Rescue Services, which has been launched by the Local Government Association (LGA), the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), pledges to be “at the heart of everything employees do” and ensure that communities receive the best possible support.

Developed in consultation with the fire sector, the Core Code is designed to help employees of the Fire and Rescue Service act in the best possible way towards each other and while serving members of the public. It will sit alongside the Code of Ethics Fire Standard developed by the Fire Standards Board.

The Core Code sets out five ethical principles based on the ‘Seven Principles of Public Life’, which themselves provide a basis for promoting good behaviour and challenging in appropriate behaviour.

These include:

*Putting communities first (ie putting the interests of the public, the community and service users first)

*Integrity (ie acting with integrity including being open, honest and consistent in everything that’s done by the Fire and Rescue Service)

*Dignity and respect (ie making decisions objectively based on evidence, without discrimination or bias)

*Leadership (ie positive role models always demonstrating flexibility and resilient leadership, with all accountable for everything they do and determined to challenge all behaviour that falls short of the highest standards)

*Equality, diversity and inclusion (ie continually recognising and promoting the value of equality, diversity and inclusion both within the Fire and Rescue Service and the wider communities in which it serves, all the while standing against all forms of discrimination, creating equal opportunities, promoting equality, fostering good relations and celebrating difference)

These ethical principles will help to improve organisational culture within – and the workforce diversity of – Fire and Rescue Services, ensuring that communities are supported in the very best way possible.

They will be embedded in everything Fire and Rescue Services and their employees do and be at the heart of day-to-day activity, guiding individual behaviours, and particularly so when faced with difficult, changing or otherwise unclear situations.

Differing governance arrangements

As a ‘Core’ Code, it recognises there will be differing governance arrangements and is flexible enough to be adapted by every Fire and Rescue Service where any local values, behaviours and governance models can be added (or example, where a Fire and Rescue Service is part of a county council and obliged to also comply with the council’s own Code). It can be added to, but not detracted from, thereby ensuring that local values and expectations of behaviours can also be reflected.

The Core Code has been developed in response to Sir Tom Winsor’s recommendation in the State of Fire report issued back in 2019. Councillor Nick Chard, LGA lead on the Core Code of Ethics, said: “We’re delighted to launch the Core Code of Ethics, outlining the key principles which will be at the heart of everything Fire and Rescue Services do, underpinning and guiding the behaviour and culture of individuals working with and on behalf of Fire and Rescue Services.”

Chard continued: “The sector-led Core Code is designed to be flexible such that it can be adopted and reflect any existing codes and governance arrangements local Fire and Rescue Services already have in place. Ultimately, this Core Code aspires to ensure that we have a positive and diverse working culture within the Fire and Rescue Service, making it a great place to work for everyone, while also maintaining public trust and confidence.”

Mark Hardingham, the newly-installed chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, commented: “I’m delighted to see the publication of the first Core Code of Ethics for the Fire and Rescue Service. As NFCC chair, I have the privilege of working with a dedicated team that’s wholly committed to ensuring our Fire and Rescue Services are positive and inclusive environments for all of their staff. This, of course, translates into them being able to provide an excellent service for their local communities.”

Hardingham also observed: “The Core Code is explicit in its expectations relating to the behaviours of staff at all levels within Fire and Rescue Services. The detail within it, alongside the supporting guidance and the associated Fire Standard, will help to ensure that the Core Code becomes fully embedded in everything Fire and Rescue Services do, enhanced by their own locally adopted ethical codes and behaviours.”

Greater consistency

Roger Hirst, Core Code of Ethics lead at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, outlined: “I’m pleased to join partners in launching the Core Code of Ethics. The Core Code applies to all roles across Fire and Rescue Services. Its launch marks the first steps towards greater consistency across them. I’m confident that effective implementation of the Core Code’s principles will provide existing and future employees, as well as the public, with assurance that inappropriate behaviour will be challenged and that Fire and Rescue Services will continually recognise and promote the value of equality, diversity and inclusion internally and also in the wider communities whom they serve.”

Lord Stephen Greenhalgh, Minister for Building Safety and Communities, concluded: “I’m delighted to see the launch of the Core Code of Ethics and the Code of Ethics Fire Standard. The Core Code of Ethics will not only help to foster a positive and more diverse working culture so that all of those brave individuals in our Fire and Rescue Services feel supported, but will also ensure the best possible service for local communities by bolstering public trust.”