|7 Business Continuity|
We also recognise that we have an important role to play in supporting the continued development of business on Merseyside. We have adopted an enforcement concordat, which sets out our approach to working in partnership with business, to ensure the safety of the public and employees is improved through our work with business, whilst at the same time minimising the financial burden on business of achieving a safe environment. The Community Safety and Arson Strategies referred to earlier in this Plan detail a number of initiatives that contribute to business continuity.
In addition we must ensure that our enforcement and inspection personnel are available to work with business on Merseyside, at a time and in a flexible manner that suits the needs of a modern, developing business economy.
To achieve this we will be introducing changed work patterns for some of our uniformed fire safety specialists. Previous work patterns meant that these staff worked a system called the 9-day fortnight (week One Monday to Friday, week Two Monday to Thursday). We are proud of the commitment and dedication of our fire safety specialists, who frequently attended for duty on “days off” to meet with businesses and discuss safety improvements.
One of the outcomes of the resolution of the national dispute was that in return for improved pay, an agreement was made to change this system to a full 42 hour week. We will be introducing this system over the next few months on a phased basis in consultation with employees’ representatives.
We have also been “trialling” the use of technical officers with no emergency response reference in our fire safety teams, to develop a wider pool of skills for business to access for advice and support about how to improve safety. This trial has been extremely successful and we will be extending the concept in the coming years. Specialist technical officers offer a range of skills that complement the existing fire prevention expertise and the important operational experience of fire-fighting, of our uniformed specialists. It is our aim, over the next five years, to achieve a better balance between uniformed specialist and non-uniformed technical staff.
The specialist technical officer role also opens up opportunities for a wider group of the community to access careers in the fire service. An example could be someone with a degree in fire engineering, structural engineering or building construction, who possesses very extensive skill and knowledge about the design of buildings, who can develop practical knowledge of fire development.
We will also adopt this principle of matching role working patterns to organisational need in a wide range of other roles within an agreed national framework.
The modern and innovative design of buildings that will inevitably be an important feature of the impact of Capital of Culture, as well as the need to ensure that we protect our architectural heritage, means that the Fire Authority must be absolutely sure it is able to call upon the widest pool of talent, skill and experience possible to deliver building safety advice without compromising economic reality.
The key criterion will be to ensure we have the right skills to meet the business community’s needs. We do not want any artificial barriers to attracting talented and ambitious people to work with us.
Business continuity, in terms of the ability of this and other organisations to continue to function effectively following a major calamity will also be addressed in due course. The recently published draft Civil Contingencies Bill is likely to place additional duties on fire and rescue authorities and other partner agencies. The final draft of the Bill has yet to be published. Indeed, the full implications of the Bill and the subsequent Act of Parliament may not be known until Regulations, made under the Act, become available. As and when these additional duties are known, the IRMP will be revised where appropriate. The preparations made by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service in respect of major calamities are detailed in earlier chapters.
Emergency Planning in England and Wales is funded directly by the Government in the form of specific grant. Each of the five District Councils of Merseyside and Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority pool those funds to create a central resource which is the Merseyside Emergency Planning Department. This Department co-ordinates the activities of the District Councils and liaises with emergency services and other agencies to provide contingency plans for dealing with natural disasters or commercial incidents.
The Department maintains an on-call duty officer, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The officer is available to give advice and, if necessary, answer a call to the scene of an incident to assist in the co-ordination of the local authority response. This emergency planning provision is the key to activating an appropriate response from agencies and resources that can assist the public of Merseyside in time of need.
Local authorities have a vital role to play in the emergency planning process by supporting the emergency services and other agencies involved operationally in response to incidents that effect our communities and environment. To respond effectively and achieve a combined and co-ordinated approach to an incident, the capabilities of local authorities must be linked with those of the emergency services and other agencies.
Irrespective of the particular responsibilities of local authorities, emergency services and other agencies all work together adopting an integrated emergency management approach to achieve the following key objectives to:
To deliver the emergency planning key objectives above, Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority has adopted the following strategy to:
The Emergency Planning function on Merseyside is currently under review. The District Councils are reviewing arrangements from their perspective and Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority is also reviewing arrangements in light of the implications to the Authority of the Civil Contingencies Bill.
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