Change ‘urgently required’ to fire services

Fire and rescue services in England are improving, but more change is urgently required, according to Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services’ ‘State of fire’ report.

Progress has been made on protection and most services are better at promoting a positive professional culture, the report states. But outdated and ineffective structures for negotiating pay – and a lack of workforce diversity – are still challenges to overcome.

One of the six recommendations made previously for national reform of the sector included the introduction of a code of ethics, which was published in May 2021 after being produced by the LGA, the National Fire Chiefs Council, and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

Cllr Ian Stephens, Chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee, said of the code: “We will be continuing to work with our partners to ensure that it is taken forward across the sector.”

He added: “Positive industrial relations in the sector are vital to the effective and efficient delivery of services. While no evidence is provided in the report to support the assertion that the UK-wide National Joint Council (NJC) is inefficient and outdated, nor that removing the current model of collective bargaining in England would improve any of the workforce issues raised, we remain open to discuss improvements that could be made to the NJC.

“The sector has been through a challenging year, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to exacerbate existing pressures on vital services. We are committed to ensuring that the sector can improve and are working to support members.

“We are pleased that the report acknowledges the crucial role fire and rescue services play in keeping our communities safe, whether that’s through responding to COVID-19, fires or other emergencies.”


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