Headlines: April 3rd, 2003

Fire authorities in England and Wales will have to implement Integrated Risk Management Planning in a move announced by HM Chief Inspector of Fire Services, which it is claimed will help save lives. The authorities will have to consult local communities and take their views into account before plans are put in place.The Chief Inspector has written to all fire services setting out what they have to do. His letter says the step is a new approach to managing risks from fires and other incidents that will make the Fire Service more responsive to local needs, improve the service to the public and save more lives.

It will give greater priority to dealing with the risk to life, rather than the risk to property, and mean resources will be allocated to take account of locally identified needs rather than being governed by national prescription. This, an accompanying circular says, will mean a greater emphasis on preventing fires and other incidents and better targeting of resources to ensure cover is available when and where it is needed in order to save lives.

The idea is that every area will draw up its own strategic plan to provide improved community safety by evaluating all actual and potential risks, and then to provide emergency cover to meet those risks. The system will come into effect once a fire authority has produced its integrated risk management plan, which can happen only after it has consulted local communities.

The circular, issued by Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate (HMFSI), explains the reasons for introducing integrated risk management plans, what fire authorities will need to do, the help that the Inspectorate will provide. It will be flowed by a number of guidance notes, the first two of which will be issued for consultation later this week. The closing date for the consultation on these first documents is May 30th.