Fire information for everyone
The availability of authoritative information on fire and fire related subjects is paramount. And it must be available to everyone - we all need to understand how devastating fire is - it can kill, ruin lives and businesses. Ensuring that the latest knowledge and expertise is available is essential for everyone - businesses, schools, universities, government departments and agencies.
Getting fire safety onto the European Agenda is becoming paramount for many people, organisations and those concerned with the cost of fire - both in lives and properties. Some countries are looking at their current fire situation and the UK is one such country. In June 2003 the UK Government published the White Paper, "Our Fire and Rescue Service". It set out a package of reforms designed to improve the service and to save more lives.
It is also part of the fundamental review of fire legislation that started with a Consultation Paper in July 2002.There are over 100 pieces of legislation with fire safety provisions such as The Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 as amended and The Fire Precautions Act 1971.
Fire Risk Assessment
The Government proposes a new general duty of fire safety care on employers and the occupiers and owners of almost all premises (except single private dwellings) to provide and maintain adequate fire precautions. Superimposed on the general duty would be a system of fire authority validation of the fire safety measures in high-risk premises. Validation would be based on risk assessment by the employer, owner or occupier. It would be granted only when the fire authority was fully satisfied that the fire safety measures were appropriate to the risk in the premises. The new legislation should simplify the existing law, repealing and consolidating existing legislation where appropriate. It would have to take full account of European Community obligations and of the need to keep the risk to firefighters to a minimum.
The general duty would require adequate fire safety provision to be made for anyone who might be on the premises; employees, contractors and public alike, and including firefighters who might have to enter premises when they are on fire duty. The general duty should be goal based, not prescriptive, it would require the responsible person to carry out a risk assessment and in the light of the assessment to take any necessary steps to ensure that fire safety standards were adequate.
The Government proposes that the risk assessment and consequent fire safety measures in high-risk premises should be subject to fire authority validation. Such premises to be subject to validation would be designated (as under the Fire Precautions Act 1971) using criteria that would best ensure that the validation regime was targeted as accurately as possible.
On 11 December 2003 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) published a draft Fire and Rescue National Framework that outlines how to implement the White Paper's proposals. It sets out the Government's objectives for the Fire and Rescue Service and what Fire and Rescue Authorities should do to achieve these outcomes. It also sets out what the Government will do to improve the service and what support it will provide to Fire and Rescue Authorities. In due course, the expectations in the Framework will also help to shape the Audit Commission's fire and rescue Comprehensive Performance Assessment.
The proposals include that in future, the fire and rescue service will plan for, and respond to, emergencies on the basis of the risk assessment and management. These new requirements will be brought together in the Integrated Risk Management Plans (IRMPs) that each fire authority will be required to produce. They will consult their local communities on these plans, and the fire and rescue service will work with the other emergency services to implement them.
In summary and to create a safer community the UK Government will:
- review the Building Regulations to ensure that they address changing trends and new developments in building design;
- rationalise the existing law on fire safety legislation to facilitate compliance;
- invest more in community fire safety and arson reduction; and
- set a new legislative framework, introducing fire cover based upon risk through integrated risk management planning.
Other key White Paper "Our Fire and Rescue Service" proposals include:
- Placing a greater emphasis on the prevention of fire and other emergencies. This will include:
- reviewing the building regulations;
- rationalising fire safety legislation;
- investing over 43 million pounds over the next three years in community fire safety and arson reduction measures; and
- setting up a new legislative framework, based upon the level of risk rather than the existing system (dating back to the 1930s), based upon the density of buildings in an area.
- Changing the way in which the service is governed and managed. This will include:
- setting up a new structure to give better strategic direction; build the views of practitioners into policy making; and clarify central, regional and local responsibilities; and
- setting up a new regional framework and devolving responsibility for fire policy to Wales.
Making the fire and rescue service a better place in which to work. This will include:
- making it more representative of the community it serves;
- introducing multi-level entry and accelerated development schemes;
- reforming and modernising the pensions system;
- modernising the disputes and disciplinary arrangements to bring them into line with ACAS best practice; and
- introducing a better deal for retained fire fighters.
The are many organisations around the world producing guidance, advice, reports, research reports, standards and training data. Some of these organisations make their information available via their web sites, often free of charge. Likewise the appropriate legislation from the European Commission and other sources such as the UK Government. But it takes time to check out all these individual sources and find a particular piece of fire and fire related information.
A data source that is arguably the world's best collection of such information is Fire Worldwide. Using the powerful SilverPlatter retrieval software FIRE Worldwide, published by Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd., is available on an annual subscription at a price of £535 for standalone use, and is accessible via Internet or on CD-ROM.
Fire Worldwide is a premier collection of validated, authoritative information and contains two major collections - the Full Text Collection and the Bibliographic Collection.
- The Bibliographic Collection has 7 databases which contain over 235,000 records to journal articles, guidance and advice, circulars, reports, conference proceedings, research reports, statistics and codes of practice from worldwide sources. One of the databases - from the British Standards Institution contains references to over 2500 fire and fire related standards.
- The Full text Collection has 4 major databases which contain full text
documents, more are continually being added to this wide-ranging source of
critical fire information. The collection contains all appropriate European and UK
legislation for fire and fire related industry - some hundreds of documents. In
addition a range documents from organisations such as:
- The UK Fire Protection Association
- CTIF - The International Committee for the Prevention and Extinction of Fire
- The UK Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions
- US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
- UK Health and Safety Executive
- Ireland Department of the Environment Fire Safety
- World Fire Statistics Bureau
There is a commitment to maintain and expand Fire Worldwide which is used by organisations worldwide. Fire Worldwide is set to expand still further!
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with your details:
 The Deputy Prime Minister launched the White
Paper in a statement to the House of Commons. White Paper, "Our Fire and Rescue Service".
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