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Emergency Preparedness and Resilience

Desired outcome

A fire and rescue service that is prepared to respond to Major Incidents and Large-scale emergencies or Disruptive challenges (emergencies). It carries out effective risk-based preparations and emergency planning to meet its duties under the Civil Contingencies Act and to keep the public safe. It reduces, controls and mitigates the impact of emergencies through effective preparedness, response and recovery.

A service that can continue to deliver critical services during times of emergencies. It is prepared to respond as a single service; working with other fire and rescue services or as part of a multi-agency response. It contributes effectively to national resilience requirements and has suitable and sufficient access to resources and assets to support response to local, regional and national scale emergencies. It collaborates with its local resilience forum (LRF) partners to achieve the LRF National Resilience Standards and to communicate effectively with the public in preparation for, during and after an emergency, building community resilience.

It has in place arrangements for the sharing and receiving of information and intelligence with partners, contributing to effective decision making and enabling a coordinated response.

It is an organisation that works with its relevant partners to continually learn and improve multi-agency response by de-briefing after training, exercises and emergencies, sharing and acting on the lessons identified.


Strategic and Service Delivery

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Date approved
Date issued
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Reference number

What is required to meet the fire standard

A fire and rescue service must:

  1. align to all relevant Cabinet Office National Resilience Standards for Local Resilience Forums (LRFs)
  2. have plans that enable it to prepare for emergencies and take preventative or pre-emptive actions as required, and that:
    1. are based on a robust risk assessment of foreseeable risks to the local area, informed by the National Security Risk Assessment (NSRA) and its Community Risk Registers;
    2. contain supporting materials which reflect and embed JESIP;
    3. align to other multi-agency plans, and where relevant meet legislative requirements. These plans may include those for Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH), Pipeline Safety Regulations (PSR) and Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations (REPPIR);
    4. have a clear activation and notification process for communicating with other Category 1 and 2 responders, organisations and the public, to enhance cross-border awareness and interoperability for preparedness, response and recovery arrangements;
    5. have robust, embedded and flexible recovery management arrangements in place as detailed in the Local Recovery Management National Resilience Standard #13;
    6. contain protocols aligned with the LRF protocols and guidance for leaders and practitioners about the establishment of recovery and coordination groups (RCGs) and managing activity between phases from response, recovery and to stand down;
    7. have clear, inclusive and agreed governance arrangements for both single-service and national resilience capabilities in line with the National Coordination and Advisory Framework (NCAF), including defined roles and responsibilities;
    8. evidence assurance of its resilience capabilities, validated by regular testing using a risk-based exercise programme, either as a single service or with other relevant responder organisations at operational, tactical and strategic levels;
    9. are reviewed and updated periodically with relevant partners; and
    10. are classified in line with the Government Security Classifications dependent upon the nature of the plan and exist in a format that makes them accessible to relevant stakeholders when required.
  3. collaborate with partners to develop site-specific emergency plans which are based on a shared and common understanding of local risks, associated planning assumptions and the NSRA;
  4. recruit, train, develop and maintain a competent and professional workforce to enable the service to carry out its role in preparedness, response and recovery to emergencies;
  5. have access to a suitable and secure system to enable it to share and make information available and accessible to partners and stakeholders, when required;
  6. have business continuity plans (BCP) in place relating to all critical functions, that:
    1. demonstrate a clear procedure for invoking the BCP and set out the core of a response to emergencies; and
    2. are reviewed and exercised periodically
  7. as part of the response to an emergency contribute to the effective operation of a Strategic Co-ordination Centre (SCC) and Strategic Co-ordinating Group (SCG) and in line with National Resilience Standards #11 and #12.

A fire and rescue service should:

  1. evidence a clear rationale for the balance between generic and site-specific emergency planning for defined risks;
  2. adopt the principles of integrated emergency management to effectively anticipate and assess risks and prevent, prepare, respond and recover from emergencies;
  3. develop plans which:
    1. follow a common template, including use of action cards, diagrammatic instructions, detachable annexes and directories; and
    2. include an escalation process to request additional involvement and support, such as mutual aid and national resilience capabilities.
  4. optimise the opportunity to gather learning, such as debrief outcomes following emergency response, training or exercising and share them on the available systems, such as Joint Organisational Learning (JOL) and National Operational Learning (NOL);
  5. have a process in place to act on any learning received from systems such as JOL and NOL to drive innovation and continuous improvement and enhance future performance;
  6. maximise opportunities gained from supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) network by sharing learning and experiences, collaborating with others and contributing to the continual improvement of preparedness, response and recovery activities;
  7. contribute and support appropriate national campaigns and initiatives, where resources are available.

A fire and rescue service may:

  1. share plans with other services or partners for independent peer review for continual improvement purposes.

Expected benefits of achieving the fire standard

  1. The public are reassured that services are resilient, prepared and able to respond to emergencies and maintain its critical functions during a disruptive event
  2. Effective contribution to multi-agency response to emergencies because of a standardised and nationally approved approach to emergency preparedness
  3. Effective inter- and intra-operability because of collaboration and information sharing with other services and partners
  4. Enables services and partners to identify and address potential capability gaps and areas of good practice

Guidance and supporting information

Glossary of terms

Disruptive challenges

Incidents which whilst requiring some form of emergency response, can be resolved via the provision of locally available resources.

In order to simplify the reading experience, the term “emergencies” has been used within the Emergency Preparedness and Resilience Fire Standard to cover disruptive challenges, large-scale emergencies and major incidents.

Large-scale emergencies

May pose a significant threat to life, disrupt essential community routines or vital services, or may require large amounts of resources to manage the incident.

In order to simplify the reading experience, the term “emergencies” has been used within the Emergency Preparedness and Resilience Fire Standard to cover disruptive challenges, large-scale emergencies and major incidents.

Major Incidents

An event or situation with a range of serious consequences which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency services.

In order to simplify the reading experience, the term “emergencies” has been used within the Emergency Preparedness and Resilience Fire Standard to cover disruptive challenges, large-scale emergencies and major incidents.

National Security Risk Assessment (NSRA)

Designed to compare, assess and prioritise all major disruptive risks to our national security.

Local risks

Buildings, sites, locations that have been assessed at local level as having the probability of an emergency situation being realised. Such risks would usually appear in a community risk register.

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You Said, We did

If you have taken part in a consultation, you may be interested to read our post-consultation “You said, we did” report to see how your feedback has shaped this Fire Standard.

Emergency Preparedness and Resilience Fire Standard

Note Please contact the Fire Standards team within the NFCC for any queries or support with regards to this Fire Standard [email protected]

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