Page 12 - HOT NEWS JUNE 2014
P. 12
FIRE FIRE PROTECTION PROTECTION
Community Fire Protection plays an important role in ensuring that the Service fulfils its statutory functions as an enforcing authority for various parts of fire safety legislation and Area Manager Myles Platt is in charge of the department. Here, Group Manager Guy Keen, Head of Protection, talks about their work.
The work of Community Fire Protection directly contributes to our mission by influencing standards of fire safety within the built environment. Protection has had to cope with massive change particularly since the turn of the Century. Like most, we have been impacted by economic challenges but we have also had to adapt to significant changes in legislation.
In 1972 the Fire Precautions Act came into force with an approach to fire safety compliance based upon detailed prescriptive measures. In 2005 the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order came into force to reduce the “red-tape” burden on business, whilst also giving the ownership of fire safety to the “Responsible Person” of the premises.
This approach allowed greater flexibility in meeting the requirements of fire safety legislation and our role changed to provide a greater emphasis on assisting those responsible to comply where enforcement comes as a last resort. Again the work of officers in adopting a risk-based auditing regime maintained an excellent performance record with ongoing reductions of fires in business premises.
Most recently the introduction of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act in April this year ups the ante even further on reducing the regulatory burden by increasing the statutory requirements on enforcing authorities to assist Responsible Persons with compliance and to reduce the economic burden on business.
Despite all these challenges, we have developed well over recent years to make the best of the resources available in order to shape ourselves to meet the future challenges. We have restructured to overcome the challenges of an isolated department by aligning the six district offices under the jurisdiction of the District Managers.
We have developed strong partnerships with protection colleagues both nationally and regionally to collaborate on developments and solutions and have seen some great success, such as:
• Our recent AFA (Automatic Fire Alarm) protocol which achieved unprecedented reductions in Unwanted Fire Signals (false alarms), and we are currently performing at approximately 70% below 2011-12 figures.
• The Sprinkler symposium, as part of the Chief Fire Officers Association’s (CFOA) Fire Sprinkler Week 2014, where we announced the Fire Authority’s commitment to match-fund retro-fitted sprinklers to combat fire risk to vulnerable persons and enhance the safety of firefighter operations.
• Over 2013/14 we made good progress on our succession plan through investment and development in the senior Protection managers and our fire engineering capability in the central team. We have worked closely with our professional colleagues through CFOA forums at national and regional level, both contributing to and benefitting from a range of professional tools such as the national CFOA performance benchmarking, the qualifications and curriculum framework and the Fires in the Built Environment training package that will shortly be delivered to operational crews.
This investment now provides us with a firm foundation to meet our challenges. We have a clear vision that underpins our functional plan and highlights set priorities that will enable us to meet the challenges by ensuring that our people, our procedures and our systems are fit for purpose and actively support optimum performance against the risk-based strategy.
Members of our Fire Protection Team with Group Manager Guy Keen. Photo Lyndsay Young.
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