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Ron Alalouff is a journalist specialising in the fire and security markets, and a former editor of websites and magazines in the same fields.
September 29, 2021


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Emphasis on closer collaboration with industry in new fire and rescue standard for non-residential buildings

FireAlarm-21A new standard setting out the steps that fire and rescue services need to take to improve the fire safety of non-residential buildings, has been launched by the Fire Standards Board.

The protection standard aims to encourage fire and rescue services to work in a proactive, community-focused way, educating those responsible for keeping buildings safe, and using intelligence and data to optimise resources whilst responding to changing needs. It strives to present a consistent national approach by fire and rescue services, and to deliver efficient fire protection activities in local communities.

The standard seeks to improve the safety of its communities by reducing risks in the built environment, creating a competent protection workforce in line with its community risk management plan. It also aims to promote a learning and sharing culture, working collaboratively with others in order to improve and innovate protection activities. The standard was developed through the policy and reform unit of the National Fire Chiefs’ Council.

In the realm of identifying risk and gathering evidence, the standard says a fire and rescue service should:

  • Identify and understand its risk profile for the built environment, including premises it needs to regulate, through its community risk management planning
  • Carry out appropriate equality impact assessments with those responsible for keeping premises safe. Assisting them in understanding how best to support vulnerable occupants, striving to ensure equality of safety provision
  • Gather and maintain an accurate risk profile and supporting information about relevant premises, in a manner that is compliant with legislation
  • Make information about premises available to all employees who need it, allowing them to stay safe and informed, whilst carrying out their duties
  • Ensure there is a mechanism for employees to feedback any new/emerging information or risks about buildings as a result of them carrying out their duties, enabling it to maintain an accurate risk profile.

There are also provisions for decision-making, planning and deployment of resources, including:

  • Effective and robust protection activities to reduce risks identified through community risk management planning
  • Delivering necessary statutory protection activities at all times
  • Engaging with those responsible for keeping premises safe, including working to reduce the number of unwanted automatic fire signals
  • Collaborating with both fire and rescue services and other partners, to deliver protection and enforcement activities in the most efficient way possible.

Training, competence and capacity

Fire services must recruit, train, develop and maintain a competent and professional protection workforce by adopting the Competency Framework for Fire Safety Regulators, embedding it into local policies, procedures, tailored guidance and training materials, and recording and monitoring competence.

Fire services must also provide support to operational response employees and any others undertaking protection activities to build knowledge and maintain a sustainable and competent workforce. They must also show how they monitor and evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency and impact of their protection activities, and generate a culture of learning from a range of sources to drive innovation, continuous improvement, and future performance.

Sharing information

Finally, in order to support the standard, fire and rescue services should maximise opportunities from the National Fire Chiefs Council network by sharing learning and experiences, collaborating with others, and contributing to the continual improvement of fire protection activities. Contributing and supporting national campaigns and initiatives where appropriate and where resources are available.

The expected benefits of meeting the standard are:

  • a reduction in incidents, injuries and fatalities, and improved community safety
  • better regulatory compliance relating to fire safety, petroleum and explosives
  • improved competency and capacity in the protection workforce
  • improved evaluation to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of protection activities.

Fire standards implementation tool

The fire standards implementation tool is designed to support services in assessing how well they meet the standard and help them build an action plan to complete areas where there are gaps.

Suzanne McCarthy, Fire Standards Board chair, said: “The board recognises the importance of this standard and the contribution it will make to helping services in driving forward safer buildings, and the improved wellbeing of communities.

“This standard will drive service improvement and enhance professionalism, helping to identify what good practice looks like for the benefit of both fire and rescue service personnel and the communities they serve.”


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