FIRESA Secretary David Smith explains what FIRESA has been up to this year so far...

11 April 2018 by David Smith, FIA, FIRESA Secretary

FIRESA Council continues its work on behalf of the Fire Industry Association’s Fire and Rescue suppliers and was delighted to host a convivial pre-event dinner at the Baltic Centre in Gateshead ahead of the LGA Fire Conference in March. Superbly organised by FIRESA Council’s Vice-Chair Lesley Routh-Jones, Chairman James Jones welcomed the now annual informal gathering of FRS Chiefs, Fire Authority members and sector suppliers as a precursor to what proved to be a typically educative and absorbing Conference at this time of on-going changes to our Fire and Rescue Services. Thanks go specifically to the sponsors AW Hainsworth, Ballyclare, ColdCut, FIA, Godiva, Primetech, Supply Plus, Vimpex and WL Gore for their outstanding support.

A key element of the work of FIRESA council is its partnership approach and its commitment to engage with relevant stakeholders across the wider sector in a constructive, fair and transparent manner. As 2017 came to an end, the FIA was pleased to sponsor an award at the Excellence in Fire and Emergency Awards. 2018 has already seen two FIRESA Council meetings, an FIA/NFCC joint Seminar in Birmingham, a formal response to the Fire and Rescue National Framework for England Consultation and the development of our contributions in a number of NFCC workstreams, notably UK FRS R&D and Collaborative Procurement. Our involvement with the Joint International Fire Board on UK export promotion has yielded a trade mission to Brazil which took place in February in pursuit of a requirement within the Sao Paulo Fire Service for £80 m of Fire and Rescue products and services.

Looking ahead, we shall have a presence at the International Firex, Fire Fleet and Equipment and Emergency Services Shows and continue to represent our membership at ministerial level; within the Home Office, HM Inspectorate and DIT; and as part of the newly-formed NFCC Customer and Supplier Engagement Group. We also maintain an active liaison with organisations such as the Fire Sector Federation, Fire Service College, Joint International Fire Board and the IFE as well as acting on a range of BSI, CEN and ISO Standards Committees.

All of this work has the ultimate aim of ensuring that the concerted voice of Fire and Rescue suppliers is heard across the entirety of legislatory, regulatory and sector-led developments both within the FRS landscape itself and beyond that to ‘Blue Light’ collaboration with the Police and Ambulance Services.

It’s a simple statement of fact that funding cuts have resulted in significant losses in terms of front-line fire fighters, fire stations and fire appliances and that this is impacting on FRS performance and public safety parameters. We believe that greater collaboration is needed between the FRSs and its supply industry in areas such as procurement which must be underpinned by greater standardisation where possible and the provision of output-based specifications.

This, however, should not restrict the market place to a single supplier environment but should continue to deliver a healthy competitive environment and one that fosters innovation among manufacturers and suppliers. Certainly, the growing number of Frameworks over recent years for the same product types is a gross inefficiency that must be eliminated. We also support collaborative R&D and are disappointed to note that the centralised equipment evaluations are to be discontinued although we welcome focus on the innovative R&D capability that the NFCC wishes to focus on in the coming months and years.

As the FIRESA Council Chairman, James Jones, has made clear, ‘we have a joint responsibility to ensure that the UK Fire Sector is successful, sustainable and that we play our part in contributing to a safer, more prosperous and dynamic place to work and live.’

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