20 August 2014

Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt has launched an independent review to ensure that firefighters’ conditions of service support their frontline work of preventing fire and protecting the public.

The review will be led by Adrian Thomas, an expert in the field of personnel management and staff resourcing.

Mr Thomas will consult with fire and rescue authorities, firefighters, representative bodies and report back in February 2015.

A report by former Fire Chief Sir Ken Knight ‘Facing the Future’, published last year, outlined how improvements could be made to frontline services if firefighters’ conditions of service were reviewed.

This review will consider whether the current terms and conditions are conducive to building the fire and rescue service of the future.

It will look at national arrangements for agreeing conditions:

  • Management practices and crewing arrangements;
  • Collaboration and integration with other emergency services;
  • The use of on call firefighters; and
  • Clarity of process in the fair recruitment and remuneration of chief fire officers and fire officers.

Official national statistics show that fire deaths in England have continued to fall, with 5% fewer deaths than last year, continuing a trend that has seen nearly a 40% drop since 2004. The figures also show that last year, fire and rescue services attended 170,000 fires, the second lowest number of fire incidents ever recorded.

Launching the review, Ms Mordaunt commented: “Firefighters put their lives on the line every day and deserve a workplace fully focused on fire prevention and protection. So we have a responsibility to each and every firefighter to make sure their conditions of service, some of which are decades old, fully support the challenges modern firefighters face every day.

“This review will involve a massive piece of evidence gathering, in particular from firefighters themselves as they have expertise and ideas, to take the service forward. I hope as many firefighters as possible will contribute.”

She added: “It will give fire chiefs an up-to-date assessment of the work place to implement lasting improvements so firefighters can continue to serve the needs of their communities to the best of their abilities for years to come.”

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.