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New fire standard set to bring consistency to community risk management planning

25 July 2021

THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has welcomed the launch of the Community Risk Management Planning Fire Standard. Published by the Fire Standards Board, the document aims to bring consistency to the way in which Community Risk Management Plans – a statutory requirement for Fire and Rescue Services since 2004 – are developed and used.

Also commonly known as Integrated Risk Management Plans, these documents outline how Fire and Rescue Services will use staff and resources to keep communities safe from fire and administer other Fire and Rescue Service-related risks.

The Community Risk Management Planning Fire Standard will provide a framework for the work of the NFCC’s Community Risk Programme which is developing a set of standardised tools and guidance to support Fire and Rescue Services when developing their Community Risk Management Plans.

The NFCC established the Community Risk Programme in order to deliver part of its strategic commitment to reduce community risk and vulnerability.

For the first time, the outcomes of an independent review in 2019 into how Fire and Rescue Services are developing these plans provided a benchmark of what’s being done at a local level. Findings from the review commissioned by the Community Risk Programme Board showed that there was much variation in terms of how these plans were being developed and used across the UK.

With existing guidance on how to produce these plans being mostly outdated, researchers from Nottingham Trent University recommended the creation of a sector-endorsed toolkit that could be applied by all UK Fire and Rescue Services regardless of their size, structure or geography. 43 UK Fire and Rescue Services took part in the review which highlighted gaps, good practice and areas for improvement for the Community Risk Programme to base its work upon.

Need for improvement recognised

NFCC chair Mark Hardingham said: “I’m pleased to see the launch of the Community Risk Management Planning Fire Standard which will provide the framework for the tools and guidance being produced by the NFCC’s Community Risk Programme. These tools are being developed with UK Fire and Rescue Services and will support them in achieving the Fire Standard.”

Hardingham continued: “The NFCC recognised the need for improvement in the approach to Community Risk Management Planning nationally. This was then echoed in the findings of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services’ first tranche of inspections of English Fire and Rescue Services. Standardised tools based on evidence and research will assist the latter in focusing resources on activities where they will have the greatest impact in terms of reducing and mitigating risk and vulnerability in the community.”

Community Risk Programme executive Phil Loach added: “The Community Risk Programme has already released some initial tools such as the national definition of risk and the risk concept model, with Fire and Rescue Services telling us they are keen to access more resources of a similar nature. These will be delivered as and when they are complete rather than waiting for the full suite to be produced. This policy allows Fire and Rescue Services to implement the tools as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Loach concluded: “A consistent approach to community risk management through standardised tools and guidance will help Fire and Rescue Services in their collaboration with partners and support fire authorities in justifying decision-making to their local communities. The resulting benefits of this as far as communities themselves are concerned is abundantly clear.”

The Community Risk Programme currently has five live projects with further projects due to commence in the next 12 months. Its final product, specifically a digital toolkit, will be comprised of the products of all of its projects to date.