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That's somewhat I think most people would expect, they even post at the bottom that this is through the lens of a pandemics and 2 lockdowns

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"11 percent increase in assisting other agencies". I can believe that. 

Shouts felt like they dropped off a cliff with lockdown, which you would expect. But loads of "assist ambulance" jobs, which almost now are the bread and butter job. 

I'm sure they'd be done cynical minds thinking this will be sued as more ammo for cuts, but pretty hard to ignore lockdowns effects.

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2 hours ago, OscarTango said:

but pretty hard to ignore lockdowns effects.

Successive Govts have ignored all sorts of stats and truths to save a few quid.

I bet even a junior civil servant at the Treasury or Home Office could write a compelling paper which links the numbers of 999 calls 'falling off a cliff' last year to supporting cuts.

Lets be fair, if they want to starve the already starving by reducing overseas aid, then clipping a few percent from the fire service budget will be childs play 🙄

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I think it actually underlines the fact that fire services must engage in the medical side of things, you can argue till the cows come home about proper funding /role maps etc 

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How so? We've heard this a lot over the years. Falling call volumes means we have to justify our existence and take on additional roles...but why? 

Medical response has long been the favourite but who does it help? The patient? The Ambulance Service/ NHS? The Fire and Rescue Service?

We have chronic skills gaps and under resourcing in areas where we have always had a Statutory responsibility, Fire Safety. At a time when the issues caused by years of deregulation and the influence of politicians and big business are coming home to roost, let's get our own house in order before we look to other areas of work.

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Who does it help? all of the above in my opinion. I don’t disagree with your comment around skills gaps, I’m not a political person. You will notice I chose my words carefully...”engage with”

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13 hours ago, ChrisW said:

...... we have always had a Statutory responsibility, Fire Safety. At a time when the issues caused by years of deregulation 

Chris, define deregulation 

I hear this word used frequently in relation to fire safety legislation,  usually by people who are repeating it with no real understanding of what it means.

But you are an educated and knowledgeable guy with all matters fire service,  so I would be interested what you are referring to with that phrase 👍

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When I refer to "deregulation" I mean it in the context of successive Governments continually committing to reducing the burden of over regulation and "red-tape" to business, across all sectors and not limited to the Fire and Rescue Service.

Including, for example:

  • The Building Act 1984- saw the introduction of "approved" private building inspectors.
  • Regulatory Reform Order 2001- Labour Government, bringing about the introduction of the RR(FS)O.
  • Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006.

  • Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013

  • One in, one out policy (For every 1 pound of regulatory burden created, 1 pounds worth had to be removed), introduced by the coalition Government, then amended to One in, Two out and further amended to One in, Three out by the Conservatives.

  • Deregulation Act 2015

It is only right that legislation is reviewed and updated to reflect current requirements; not least to make it easier to understand and reduce any unnecessary financial burdens...but...what we continually see is the influence of big business undermining the hard learned lessons that saw the introduction of many of these regulations to increase profit.

The Grenfell Inquiry hearings point to how this ideology has failed the public and the Fire and Rescue Service. The privatisation of "independent" inspection and testing. Self regulation in the construction industry. Cuts to local Authorities. Consultants and "experts" without the necessary skills or knowledge. Lobbying and influence from businesses with vested interests at the heart of Government....and on, and on.

And meanwhile, another review into the work (and working practices) of the Fire and Rescue Service which will ignore the value we provide the public and society and look for greater "efficiencies" and collaboration to justify our existence. Whilst calls may have reduced, so has the number of staff responding to these calls. As I now meander into retirement, I can't help thinking I've heard it all before.

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As I thought and expected from you, some well thought through arguments to support your view (a rarity on social media now!!)👏

I am in the blind for most of the legislation you refer to, but have some knowledge of the Building Act & of course, the FSO

The use of Approved Inspectors is a mitigated disaster. Some appear to be driven by profit rather than doing the right thing.

I had some plans to look at from an AI that showed a 64m single direction of travel in a basement in a large west end bank. The usual maximum is 18 to 20m. I queried it with the AI who - to cut a long story short - knew it was unacceptable but revealed his firm were small and this multi national bank was a big customer and they didnt want to say no - and rather the fire brigade did  😮. I let him have it with both barrels and said I would talk to the banks safety team if he did it again.

But I will defend the Fire Safety Order. It's a good piece of legislation that gave the responsibility of fire safety back to the business rather than it being assumed to be the fire service's job. It allows for the level of risk to determine fire safety measure which provides  much more flexibility than the old Fire Precautions Act which was a one size fits all rather blunt tool.

But IMHO there was a major flaw: To allow the objective of unburdening commerce, the Govt did not require the person who completes the all important fire risk assessment to be competent. Despite what you read, that is still the case. The rationale is a small shopkeeper in a very low risk newsagent shop, can complete a DIY FRA using the guides, rather than spending £500 a year for someone to do it. That is very cuddly of the Govt and sort of makes sense.

But this lack of a competence requirement  also allows people to wing it and do work well above their level of knowledge. Sadly this includes serving and former operational firefighters. I have seen many shocking FRA reports for a diverse range of buildings from shops to hotels and hospitals. I have always thought that there should be some kind of threshold above which competence must be demonstrated. Maybe the area, height, use or occupancy numbers in the premises. The law is changing and that loophole will hopefully be removed.

Another weakness (mainly of the system rather than the legislation)  is the lack of enforcement. Many fire authorities have insufficient staff to carry out audits on lower risk premises. And if they do find contraventions, in 99% of occasions if the punter puts it right, there is no sanction. Taking legal action is expensive and cash strapped enforcement authorities haven't got the cash. So they have massively high bars to reach before a protection is considered - indeed, its a last resort.

Compare that with dropping cigarette end or a business having a A frame noticeboard in the wrong place on the pavement outside. These villains will be serve a fixed penalty notice of varying amounts. But the Fire Safety Order does not allow for any FPNs. That is a huge cock up. Businesses only really sit up and take notice if it costs them. So a FPN of £150 for each contravention found - up to a maximum of £1200 (then it must be a full prosecution) would make people sit up and take notice.

I have to declare an interest of course as the Fire Safety Order has allowed me to have a new career and good life post 'retirement' for 11 years now. So I might be a little biased🙄

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There is nothing in your post I disagree with and it brings me back to the original post regarding statistics.

Politicians (in Government and organisations like the NFCC) continually use statistics to argue for continued change and reform but the British Fire and Rescue Service has never stood still. We have always identified the challenges we face and adapted the way we work, often despite the meddling and constant cuts.

We always see headlines of "fire statistics show a reduction in number of incidents attended" and the resultant calls for us to demonstrate better "value" taking on roles that have absolutely nothing to do with us.

But, what about the other statistics like:


The total number of fire safety audits has been declining since 2010/11 (by 43%). It declined 27 per cent over the past five years...

Source- fire prevention and protection statistics


Overall, response times to fires have increased gradually over the past 20 years

Source- Response times to fires attended


Since 2010 the number of firefighters has decreased by 23 per cent.

Source- Workforce and pension statistical bulletin

Fire and Rescue Services are struggling to meet their Statutory obligations, with an ever increasing range of knowledge and skills required to deal with the range of incidents we are expected to attend, the number and complexity of Fire Safety Audits we should be carrying out, I would like someone to explain to me why we "must engage" with anything that is not a core function.

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  • 6 months later...
On 09/06/2021 at 09:13, ChrisW said:

Medical response has long been the favourite but who does it help? The patient? The Ambulance Service/ NHS? The Fire and Rescue Service.

All of the above but especially the patient which is ultimately why we are here - “To Save Life” using the traditional three criteria mantra.

The same “it’s not our job” arguments for not doing EMR/Co Responding are the same one would have heard before RTCs were becoming more frequent and a scene would see Ambulance men and the local garage wrecker/recovery on an MOU from the Police attend to try and lever the poor sods out. A couple of miles from Guildford Fire Station, the reining F1 world champion Mike Hawthorn died on the A3 with the very same crudely trying to get him out with levers and bars. 

Yet we evolved to become the premier rescue agency responsible and we will and must evolve again to embrace and provide an immediate medical response alongside our Ambulance colleagues when our resources are closer and predicted to arrive on scene earlier and able to start some form of PHBLS intervention.

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