A White Paper ‘Reforming our Fire and Rescue Services’ was presented in Parliament yesterday (Wednesday 18 May) setting out the Government’s plans to reform the Fire Service under the themes of people, professionalism and governance.
The paper identifies key areas of improvement including developing the people within the fire service to improve their skills and allow them to thrive in the workplace, modernise the service to create higher levels of professionalism and strengthening governance arrangements.
Chairman of Shropshire and Wrekin Fire and Rescue Authority Cllr Eric Carter said:
“We were pleased to see the Government’s recognition of the successes we have had in areas such as implementing learning from the reports following the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the fabulous work responding to the pandemic; including stepping in to support our NHS partners. We are also content to see there was reference to defining a clear role for Fire and Rescue Services in the future.
“However, we were very disappointed to see no clear reference to the future of the existing Combined Fire and Rescue Authorities such as ours. Shropshire and Wrekin Fire and Rescue Authority brings together two independent authorities to work together across the ceremonial county of Shropshire. This provides a highly efficient and effective service for all the communities in Telford & Wrekin, and Shropshire
"Indeed, there appeared to be no reference or recognition to the excellent work of Combined Fire Authorities across the country, who develop and sustain strong community relationships.
“We feel this undervalues areas such as Shropshire where the Fire Authority can show a proven track record of keeping our communities and firefighters safe with sound strategic and financial planning.
"Our last external inspection showed we were “Good” across the board and we feel confident the next will also show how we have continued to put communities’ safety first over the last two years and continued to perform well.
"There is no evidence that a Combined Fire and Rescue Authority, such as ours, does not deliver a more than sufficient and effective service to the community and Shropshire will continue to provide this at the highest possible standard.”
Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton said:
“The proposals within the White Paper go far beyond governance and provide excellent opportunities to build on firefighters existing skills and expertise to provide even more benefit to our public. It also provides an opportunity to review how we make sure all our staff are remunerated fairly. I am particularly excited about the proposal for a national College of Fire, which will support the professionalism and continuous development of all our staff groups.”