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Internal Governance and Assurance

Desired outcome

A fire and rescue service whose communities have confidence in its ability to deliver its core objectives, identifies its strategic risks and publishes these in its community risk management plan.  These objectives are clear, realistic and understood by all within the service, which is accountable to the relevant governing body.

The service recognises that internal governance and assurance supports it in managing transformational change. It achieves this via effective processes to support continued organisational development and evaluation of internal controls.

There is a recognised independent internal governance structure which enables senior leaders to promote comprehensive oversight of internal activities to assure them that the service is operating effectively. It has the necessary and appropriate levels of delegated authority to make evidence-based ethical decisions in a structured way.

The service has a learning culture which considers the value of internal and external feedback, inspection outcomes, new innovations or developments, internal and external assurance activities, and changes in risk in its community.  It reviews and regularly evaluates what it does to provide a better service to the public, while identifying and managing corporate risk.

It ensures effective performance management and accountability against its plans and provides assurance that these are being delivered. It conducts its activity in accordance with the law and governance arrangements and demonstrates this by consistently reporting progress. Reports are published and shared in a clear and accessible manner to all stakeholders.

Its internal change and improvement are managed through robust development, approval and initiation processes that are aligned to the vision and strategic objectives of the service.  Work is coordinated and successfully executed because the service recognises the value, where appropriate, of utilising specialist skills and following industry standards to lead and manage them.



Business Area(s)

Internal Governance and Assurance and Resources

Date approved
Date issued
Review date
Reference number

What is required to meet the fire standard

To achieve this Fire Standard, a fire and rescue service must:

  1. Provide strategic oversight and accountability for internal governance and assurance, which enables it to:
    1. develop and monitor relevant functional delivery plans in line with the vision and strategic objectives of the service, agreed by its governing body and senior leadership;
    2. identify those who are responsible and accountable for strategic priorities and the business planning process across the service;
    3. co-ordinate all work designed to drive change, and which contributes to organisational development including managing and mitigating associated risks;
    4. remain agile and able to adapt plans in response to changing demands;
    5. continuously evaluate its performance through internal audit or self-assessment;
    6. consider all forms of feedback to measure progress and inform forward plans and new projects or initiatives, to ensure they remain efficient, effective and compliant with legislation;
    7. appropriately consider business cases for new work, projects or initiatives ensuring that any associated costs and resources have been forecast accurately and remain monitored, if agreed; and
    8. identify and coordinate the management of risks associated with delivering its activities.
  2. Have a clear internal structure with appropriate governance arrangements that ensure:
    1. a framework is in place that identifies who can make decisions and has the authority to act on behalf of the service with accountability for how its people behave and perform;
    2. all internal decision-making boards, groups, or regular meetings have clear terms of reference which are regularly reviewed and include agreed levels of delegated authority to enable effective decision making;
    3. progress against deliverables is monitored, scrutinised and challenged to ensure objectives are being achieved within agreed timescales and budgets, and, if necessary, pausing work; and
    4. the service can provide its Annual statement of assurance evidencing its compliance with the Fire and Rescue National Framework, providing information about its performance against its strategic plan, community risk management plan, finance, governance and operational matters.
    5. internal assurance activities are provided with an appropriate level of independence to provide objective insight into the activities of the service.
  3. Ensure that organisational decisions and the measures implemented support equality, diversity, and inclusivity, are non-discriminatory and that appropriate impact assessments are undertaken.
  4. Utilise good communication and engagement to build trusting relationships with both internal and external stakeholders.
  5. Have arrangements in place to enable it to receive and act on feedback about its processes through proactive staff and stakeholder engagement.

To achieve this Fire Standard, a fire and rescue service should:

  1. Utilise recognised processes, controls and change management methodologies to ensure impact of actions are understood, intended outcomes are delivered, and benefits are realised. This incorporates, but is not limited to, managing the following aspects:
    1. risks, issues, and dependencies;
    2. finance and budgets;
    3. post-deliverable lessons learnt and evaluation of results.
  2. Support organisational development using identified learning to tailor and improve what it delivers to the community by:
    1. identifying, capturing, evaluating, and sharing learning which could benefit the service and others, engaging with national learning arrangements where they exist; and
    2. collaborating with, and learning from, other services to benchmark performance.
  3. Recognise when it may need support and draw on the appropriate networks, national guidance, and tools to support its own organisational development.
  4. 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 the service.

Expected benefits of achieving the fire standard

This Fire Standard will contribute to the following benefits:

  1. Improved quality of service provided to the public.
  2. Effective leadership and management of the service evidenced by transparent ways of working and increased accountability.
  3. Improved governance and internal culture of the organisation.
  4. Increased clarity in decision making resulting in more efficient and transparent use of resources.
  5. A diverse workforce that feels confident in the workplace.

Guidance and supporting information

Glossary of terms

Annual statement of assurance

Requirement of government for fire and rescue services in England to provide “an annual statement of assurance on financial, governance and operational matters and show how they have had due regard to the expectations set out in their integrated risk management plan (community risk management plan) and the requirements included in the Fire and Rescue National Framework for England (the Framework). “

Download Implementation Tool View Consultation

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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