The Fire Standards Board’s consultation on its first proposed Fire Standard focused on the important area of emergency response driving. The Board appreciated the input of almost 80 organisations and individuals who responded providing comments on the draft Fire Standard and the underpinning training framework. In addition, this first consultation provided helpful insight into how well the Fire Standard development and consultation process worked.
The Board carefully considered the feedback received and agreed to change the standard and supporting documentation in light of the suggestions made by consultees. The Board also recognised the value of the wider learning they could take from this pilot which tested elements of the development process and the proposed Fire Standard format.
Importantly, consultees also flagged up a more significant issue. This concerned the legislation which the Department for Transport wishes to introduce, in that it will stipulate a defined minimum emergency driver training period. Respondents expressed concern that the proposed new legal requirement in this area would inevitably lead to increased training time which in turn would push up costs for Fire and Rescue Services. Those Services with on-call workforce were particularly concerned about the impact such legislation would have on this particular group as they would need to find more time to meet this additional training requirement.
Considering this importance of this issue, the Board agreed that the timetable for approval and publication of this particular Fire Standard needed to be delayed. While this is regrettable, the fact that this issue was brought to the Board’s attention in a timely manner highlighted the importance of consultation and should also hopefully provide reassurance to services that their concerns are heard. As a result of the consultation findings and the Board’s discussion at its meeting on 2 April, the NFCC will now engage with Government to seek a solution that works for the fire and rescue services.