Fire and Rescue Authorities’ (FRA) have made strong progress with compliance with the Fire and Rescue National Framework for England, a report by the Department for Communities and Local Government has concluded.
The report, which is published every two years as stipulated under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, states that the Secretary of State is satisfied that FRAs have been complying fully with the framework, which was revised in July 2012.
Fire transformation fund
In the same document, the government also reports a high level of interest in the £75m Fire Transformation Fund for 2015/2016, bidding for which closed in June this year.
The fund consists of £30m of resource funding to support FRAs in transformational change and deliver “sensible savings”, together with a £45m capital fire efficiency incentive fund to encourage greater collaboration with other emergency services.
Allied to growing evidence of FRAs working collaboratively with other emergency services such strong evidence demonstrates real progress since Sir Ken Knight’s ‘Facing the Future’ review of efficiency and operations in England’s 46 FRAs was published in May 2013.
The Department for Communities and Local Government says it intends to commission an independent review of conditions of service for all fire and rescue staff and the way in which they are negotiated and decided, to further support transformation in the fire and rescue sector.
FRAs themselves are not entirely sanguine about the issue. Merseyside FRS, for instance, in its response to the Consultation on the Transformation Fund bidding process, said that FRAs are best placed to make decisions on how to organise and deliver local services and that resources should be allocated directly to FRAs to spend based on local needs.
The FRS said: “Fire and Rescue Authorities no longer receive any direct capital funding. Even the level of resources set out for the transformation fund at £75m p.a would be inadequate to maintain current asset bases of core infrastructure of fire stations and appliances. Government should adequately invest in the service so that it can maintain core assets to support service.”