The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 – Chapter 21

Prior to the second world war the fire service was run by local government and the responsibility delegated in most cases to the police. During the second world war the fire service was nationalised (NFS) and it was agreed on cessation of hostilities that the fire brigades would be returned to local authorities. In 1947 the Fire Services Act became law, making the fire service a department in its own right and provided a legal framework how fire service should be setup and administrated. The core function was to extinguishing fires and very little was included about the other functions of the fire service. The fire safety roll was defined in subsection 1(1)(f) which states the fire service should provide fire prevention advice on request and with regards to the special services roll, it stated that fire brigade equipment could be used for other than firefighting purposes.

Initially there were no problems as the secondary functions called for little resources By 1970 the secondary functions was demanding more resources especially fire safety. With the introduction of the Fire Precautions Act the staff in fire safety departments grew considerably. Fire safety officers were required to insure that all premises met the required fire safety standards. This was achieved by conducting surveys of the premises, re-inspections and finally issuing a fire certificate, this proved to be expensive, because of the human resources needed.

The fire service budgets are met, partly from the government and is called the Revenue Support Grant, community charges, and the the local government precept. The Standing Spending Assessment is calculated on the operational commitment of the fire brigades and as there is no legal requirement for the secondary functions they are not included in the calculation of the SSA. Because of the extra resources needed for the secondary functions, shortfalls appeared in budgets with increasing problems. To resolve the problem with budgets the fire service started to lobby the government for a new fire services act which would include provisions for all the secondary functions. The result is the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 and it is now law.

The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 Chapter 21

The information on this page should be read in conjunction with The Fire and Rescue Act 2004 Chapter 21 which is available at the above location. It received Royal Assent on 22nd July 2004.

Explanatory Notes

Introduction

These notes have been produced by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in order to assist the reader in understanding the Act. The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Act. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Act. So where a Section or part of a Section does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given. The Act applies to England and Wales only, with the exception of the provisions relating to pensions in Part 4 and consequential provisions.

Background

The main purpose of this Act is to deliver a modernised Fire and Rescue Service that responds to the particular demands of the 21st Century and repeals the Fire Services Act 1947. It will give effect to the majority of proposals that require primary legislation in the White Paper ‘Our Fire and Rescue Service’, published on 30th June 2003. The White Paper was a Government response to ‘The Independent Review of the Fire Service’ carried out by Sir George Bain and his team, whose report was published on 16th December 2002.

Overview

The Bill covers various aspects of the Fire and Rescue Service and is in seven Parts:

  • Part 1 – Fire and rescue authorities (Sections 1 to 5): determines which bodies are the fire and rescue authorities for an area, and provides for the combination of two or more fire and rescue authorities by order.
  • Part 2 – Functions of fire and rescue authorities (Sections 6 to 20): sets out the duties and powers of fire and rescue authorities.
  • Part 3 – Administration (Sections 21 to 30): provides for the preparation of a Fire and Rescue National Framework setting out the strategic priorities of the Fire and Rescue Service, and for the supervision of fire and rescue authorities. It makes supplementary provision for the Secretary of State to provide equipment and training centres for fire and rescue authorities.
  • Part 4 – Employment (Sections 31 to 36): deals with employment by fire and rescue authorities, in particular the creation of negotiating bodies to determine the terms and conditions of employees, and pension schemes.
  • Part 5 – Water supply (Sections 37 to 42): imposes duties on fire and rescue authorities and water undertakers to ensure an adequate supply of water for fire-fighting activities.
  • Part 6 – Supplementary (Sections 43 to 53 and Schedules 1 and 2): concerns the powers of fire and rescue authority employees to undertake rescue work and investigations, as well as a number of consequential provisions and repeals, including the abolition of the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council.
  • Part 7 – General (Sections 54 to 62): makes general provision in relation to pre-commencement consultation, interpretation, statutory instruments, territorial extent etc.

The term ‘brigade’ does not appear in the Bill – this reflects a community service structured on the roles of individuals rather than adherence to a rank structure.

Territorial Application

As announced in the ‘Our Fire and Rescue Service’ White Paper, the Government believes that the time is now right to devolve responsibilities for fire and rescue authorities to the National Assembly for Wales. The Bill therefore devolves responsibility for the Service in Wales and has been drafted in liaison and agreement with officials from the National Assembly and the Wales Office.

The Bill does not repeal the provisions of the Fire Services Act 1947 as they apply in Scotland, which will remain in force. The only exceptions to this are the pension provisions in Part 4 of the Bill and consequential provisions, which do extend to Scotland as pension policy is a reserved matter and not a devolved issue. The Bill, therefore, repeals the existing pension provisions in the 1947 Act, and in turn extends the replacement provisions, to England, Wales and Scotland.

The Bill does not extend to Northern Ireland.

PART 1 FIRE AND RESCUE AUTHORITIES

1 Fire and rescue authorities

Section 1 defines what is meant in the Bill by “fire and rescue authority”, which can differ in constitution from area to area. The establishment and membership of metropolitan county fire and civil defence authorities is dealt with in section 26 of the Local Government Act 1985 (c. 51). The London Fire and Civil Defence Authority became the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority under the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (c. 29) – see section 328

Section 2 Power to create combined fire and rescue authorities

Section 3 Creation of combined fire and rescue authorities: supplementary

Section 4 Combined authorities under the Fire Services Act 1947

These sections give power to create combined fire and rescue authorities, supplementary, and combined authorities. The existing power in the Fire Services Act 1947 to create combined fire authorities is being re-enacted in a modified form to facilitate the establishment of combined fire and rescue authorities for reasons of economy, efficiency and effectiveness or for areas that correspond to the English regions. Combination could also occur where fire and rescue authorities themselves submit a proposal to that effect. Combination schemes that have already been made under the Fire Services Act 1947 will continue in force. Such schemes will be subject to the Secretary of State’s power to vary or revoke them by order. The Secretary of State will be able to appoint a minority (up to one half minus one) of the members of the combined fire and rescue authorities created under this legislation. In all cases the Secretary of State will be required to consult beforehand. The Secretary of State must also hold an inquiry into the effect of the combination scheme, unless it is un contentious or is required in the interests of public safety.

Section 5 Powers of combined fire and rescue authorities

This section will give combined fire and rescue authorities the powers which are already available to county fire authorities, the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and metropolitan county fire and civil defence authorities under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972.

PART 2 FUNCTIONS OF FIRE AND RESCUE AUTHORITIES

Core functions

Section 6 Fire safety

The Fire and Rescue Service already carries out a wide range of activities to promote community fire safety, with the aim of preventing deaths and injuries in the home and reducing the impact of fire on the community as a whole. This includes fire safety education (especially for vulnerable groups), smoke alarm installation, chip pan safety demonstrations and fire safety checks for householders and others. Many fire authorities also provide training programmes for young people and work with local businesses, agencies and partnerships (such as crime and disorder partnerships and local strategic partnerships). This work is currently carried out on a discretionary basis and the effect of Section 6 is to impose a statutory duty.

Section 7 Fire-fighting

Fire fighting re-enacts the existing statutory duty for a fire and rescue authority to plan and provide arrangements for fighting fires and protecting life and property from fires within its area. A fire and rescue authority is required to secure sufficient equipment etc. and training to discharge its duty in normal circumstances. A fire and rescue authority must also put in place effective arrangements for receiving and responding to calls for help and for obtaining information to exercise its functions; the latter might include, for example, information about the nature and characteristics of buildings within the authority’s area or availability of and access to water supplies.

Section 8 Road traffic accidents

Places a duty on fire and rescue authorities to make provision for rescuing persons from road traffic accidents and for dealing with the aftermath of such accidents. Historically, the risk of fire was the trigger for attendance at such an incident. While advances in vehicle design have seen the incidence of fire following an accident decrease, calls to assist with the rescue of people from wreckage and protect them from harm from spillage of hazardous substances have increased dramatically. A fire and rescue authority is required, therefore, to secure sufficient resources and training to discharge its duties in all normal circumstances. A fire and rescue authority must also put in place effective arrangements for receiving and responding to calls for help and for obtaining information to exercise its functions (for example, knowledge of local road and trunk road network). Under Sections 7 and 8 fire and rescue authorities must seek to mitigate the damage, or potential damage, to property in exercising their statutory functions. As a consequence, the actions a fire and rescue authority must take in responding to an incident and which could damage property should be proportionate to the incident and the risk to life.

Section 9 Emergencies

Under the Fire Services Act 1947, fire and rescue authorities are not required to make provision for emergencies other than fires. However, an increasing amount of the Fire and Rescue Service’s time is spent responding to emergencies, other than road traffic accidents and fires, such as chemical spills and flooding. Section 9 will allow the Secretary of State, following consultation, to place a duty on fire and rescue authorities to respond to particular types of emergency, as defined by order, such as flooding and terrorist incidents. The Secretary of State will also have the power, by order, to direct fire and rescue authorities as to how they should plan, equip for and respond to such emergencies. This may include, for example, directions as to the deployments of mass decontamination equipment for civil resilience purposes. The intention is to ensure consistency of approach towards emergencies, particularly in response to terrorist incidents. Section 9 also allows the order to require an authority to respond to an emergency that has arisen outside its own area if, for example, it has more appropriate equipment and training than the authority in whose area the emergency has occurred.

The term “emergency” is defined, for the purposes of this Bill only, at Section 56.

Other functions

Section 10 Directions relating to particular fires and emergencies

Directions relating to particular fires and emergencies. Where there is no time to make an order under Section 9, or where national or regional considerations need to be taken into account, Section 10 will give the Secretary of State power to direct a fire and rescue authority to respond to a particular fire or emergency incident, either in its own area or in that of another authority. The Secretary of State will also be able to direct an authority not to take any action in the event of such an emergency if, for example, another fire and rescue authority is better equipped to do so.

Section 11 Power to respond to other eventualities

Power to respond to other eventualities; and other services. replaces section 3(1)(e) of the Fire Services Act 1947, and will provide fire and rescue authorities with discretion to equip and respond to events beyond its core functions provided for elsewhere in the Bill. A fire and rescue authority will be free to act where it believes there is a risk to life or the environment. This would allow, for example, specialist activities such as rope rescue. A fire and rescue authority will be able to exercise the power in support of another fire and rescue authority – for example, under a reinforcement scheme (see Sections 13 and 14).

Section 12 Other services

Other services provides a fire and rescue authority with the power to agree to the use of its equipment or personnel for any purpose it believes appropriate and wherever it so chooses. For example, a fire and rescue authority may agree to help pump out a pond as a service to its community.

Assistance in discharge of functions

Section 13 Reinforcement schemes

These Section re-enact the existing provisions of the Fire Services Act 1947 on reinforcement schemes and extend them to apply to road traffic accidents and other serious emergencies as defined by order under Section 9. Section 13 obliges fire and rescue authorities to group together (so far as practicable) to provide mutual assistance. If there are cases where fire and rescue authorities are unable to come to an agreement about forming such a group then, at the request of one of the authorities concerned.

Section 14 Directions as to reinforcement schemes

Directions as to reinforcement schemes gives the Secretary of State the power to direct the fire and rescue authorities involved to make, vary or revoke such a scheme. Before giving a direction, the Secretary of State will give all authorities concerned the opportunity to make representations to him and he may hold a public inquiry.

Section 15 Arrangements with other employers of fire-fighters

Arrangements with other employers of fire-fighters, This Section will extend existing powers in the Fire Services Act 1947 which allow fire and rescue authorities to enter into agreements with organisations that employ their own fire-fighters. For example, if fire-fighters are employed by an airport to respond to plane crashes, an agreement could be struck that the airport fire-fighters will respond to and assist with incidents within a certain range of their airport. Fire and rescue authorities could pay the airport for each call that the airport’s fire-fighters respond to. These arrangements can also apply to the non-fire emergencies covered by Sections 8 and 9. The arrangements under this Section cannot be between two fire and rescue authorities as this type of relationship would be covered by Sections 13 and 14.

Discharge of functions by others

Section 16 Arrangements for discharge of functions by others

Arrangements for discharge of functions by others, extends existing powers in the Fire Services Act 1947 to provide fire and rescue authorities with the ability to enter into contractual arrangements with others (including other fire and rescue authorities) to provide services in the execution of their functions (covered by Sections 6 to 9 and 11). An example would be an agreement where a fire and rescue authority contracts with a local education authority to promote fire safety within its schools. Another example would be where a fire and rescue authority specialises in rope rescue and a neighbouring authority contracts with it to provide some or all of its response to incidents requiring rope rescue. However, a fire and rescue authority can only delegate its fire-fighting functions to another fire and rescue authority or others that employ fire-fighters. An example of such an agreement could be delegating to the licence-holder of a nuclear site, which employs its own fire service, the responsibility for preparing for, and dealing with, fires within the area of the site.

Section 17 Directions as to arrangements under section 16

Directions as to arrangements under Section 16 re-enacts provisions in the Fire Services Act 1947 that provide the Secretary of State with the ability to require fire and rescue authorities to enter into contractual arrangements under Section 16 (or to vary or cancel any such arrangements). The Secretary of State can exercise the power on his own initiative or where one of the authorities has asked him to intervene, but the power must be exercised in the interests of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Before issuing a direction the Secretary of State must give the fire and rescue authorities affected the opportunity to make representations to him and he may hold a public inquiry.

Supplementary

Section 18 Training centres

Training centres, re-enacts provisions in the Fire Services Act 1947 that allow a fire and rescue authority to establish training centres for its staff.

Section 19 Charging

Charging, allows the Secretary of State to set out by order, following consultation, the services for which a fire and rescue authority may charge and the persons who may be subject to the charge. Section 3(1)(e) of the Fire Services Act 1947 already provides fire and rescue authorities with a discretionary power to charge for certain functions. The power to charge for fighting fires at sea or under the sea in section 3(4A) of the 1947 Act is re-enacted by subsection (2), which also continues the prohibition on charging for extinguishing fires or protecting life and property in the event of fires in all other circumstances. Subsection (3) introduces a prohibition on charging for the provision by fire and rescue authorities of emergency medical assistance. Subsection (5) maintains the existing arrangement that allows fire and rescue authorities to set their own level of charge, and to vary the charge depending on the type of service provided and the circumstances of a particular incident, or to choose not to charge at all. Subsection (6) limits the amount charged to the cost of providing the service.

Section 20 Exercise of powers at or under sea

Exercise of powers at or under sea, the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) has a general duty to manage the response of UK authorities to maritime incidents both in territorial waters and beyond. To support such response the MCA will enter into agreements with other service providers. Fire and rescue services may indicate to the MCA a willingness to provide a response to fires and other emergencies at sea and to provide fire crews equipped and trained to undertake such work. Section 20 will enable fire and rescue authorities to continue to provide a response to incidents at sea and under the sea (for example, in the Channel Tunnel).

PART 3 ADMINISTRATION

Fire and Rescue National Framework

Section 21 Fire and Rescue National Framework

This Section requires the Secretary of State to consult on and prepare a Fire and Rescue National Framework (“the Framework”), to which fire and rescue authorities must have regard in carrying out their functions. The Secretary of State must keep the Framework under review and must consult on any significant revisions made to it. A draft Framework was published for consultation on 11th December 2003 setting out the Government’s objectives for the Fire and Rescue Service and what fire and rescue authorities should do to achieve these objectives. The Framework also sets out the support the Government will provide to fire and rescue authorities.

Section 22 Intervention by Secretary of State

This Section provides the Secretary of State with the power to set out, by order, an obligation for a fire and rescue authority to act in accordance with the Framework where he considers that the authority is failing to do so. Before making such an order the Secretary of State must give the authority an opportunity to make representations to him.

Section 23 Best value

This Section gives the Secretary of State the power to intervene if fire and rescue authorities fail to act in accordance with the Framework. The Best Value powers in Part 1 of the Local Government Act 1999 already make provision for the Secretary of State to intervene where an authority is failing to comply with the requirements of Part 1 of that Act. However, some wider Fire and Rescue Service performance issues covered by the Framework, such as measures to make provision for resilience in the face of a terrorist attack, may not be covered by the provisions of Part 1 of the 1999 Act.

Section 24 Report

The Secretary of State will report to Parliament on the extent to which fire and rescue authorities are acting in accordance with the Framework and any action he has taken to ensure they do so. He will not report on individual fire and rescue authorities. Supervision

Section 25 Information

This Section applies a power equivalent to section 230 of the Local Government Act 1972 to all fire and rescue authorities and not just those to which section 230 applies. The power could, for example, be used for collecting incident by incident information on primary fires (those involving property, rescues, casualties or fatalities), the number and location of fires and the number of fire-related casualties and fatalities.

Section 26 Inquiries

Section 26 re-enacts in an amended form section 33 of the Fire Services Act 1947. The Secretary of State will be able to hold a public inquiry into the performance of a fire and rescue authority or its handling of a particular incident.

Section 27 Inspectors

This Section re-enacts the power in the Fire Services Act 1947 that determines the arrangements for appointing inspectors of the Fire and Rescue Service.

Equipment etc

Section 28

Equipment, facilities, services and organisations. This Section will allow the Secretary of State to provide and maintain services and facilities to fire and rescue authorities, and will also grant him the power (by order) to oblige the authorities to use them. For example, this Section will give the Secretary of State the specific authority to provide equipment to prepare authorities to deal with civil resilience incidents and standardised systems for radio communications and/or control rooms. This will help to ensure consistency of approach in the case of major emergencies, such as a terrorist incident. Section 29 Directions for public safety purposes. This Section provides the Secretary of State with the power to give directions, by order, to fire and rescue authorities as to the use and disposal of their property or facilities for the purposes of public safety. Such a direction may cover all kinds of property and facilities, whether or not they have been provided as part of a national procurement exercise under Section 28. An example of when this power might be used is during a period of industrial action when official fire and rescue authority cover to deal with emergencies is insufficient to deal with local risks and in order to ensure public safety their equipment needs to be used by others providing emergency fire cover.

Training etc

Section 30 Training institution and centres

The Bill provides for training for fire and rescue authority employees (and others) to be delivered centrally, regionally or locally. This Section re-enacts and enhances provision allowing the Secretary of State to set up and maintain central or local (including regional) training centres. The Fire Service College at Moreton in Marsh is the central training institution for the Fire and Rescue Service. However, the College is not able to provide all the development and training for the service and some training (for example, training that needs to be carried out regularly) may be best delivered at a regional or local level.

PART 4 EMPLOYMENT

Negotiating bodies

Section 31 Negotiating bodies

Section 31 provides the Secretary of State with reserve powers to establish negotiating machinery for the Fire and Rescue Service. The powers allow the Secretary of State to determine the number, composition and chair of the negotiating bodies following consultation. Subsection (2) requires that a statutory body includes employers, unions and an independent chairman.

Should any negotiating body be set up under these powers, subsections (4) and (5) would prevent the body being undermined by negotiations being held in another forum. Subsections (5), (6), (7), (8), however, would allow the statutory body to make arrangements for some conditions of service to be negotiated locally either in their entirety or within nationally agreed parameters.

Section 32 Guidance

Section 32 would allow the Secretary of State to issue guidance to negotiating bodies. Any negotiating body, whether established voluntarily or under Section 31, would be required to have regard to the guidance.

Pensions etc

Section 33 Pensions etc

This Section re-enacts existing powers in section 26 of the Fire Services Act 1947. It will enable more than one pension scheme to operate at any one time.

Section 34 Information in connection with pensions etc

This clause re-enacts provisions in the Fire Services Act 1947 which enable the Secretary of State to prescribe the circumstances in which a fire and rescue authority or a Scottish fire authority may provide information to a person who has opted or transferred out of any pension scheme for fire-fighters. It also re-enacts the existing provisions about charging for administrative expenses.

Section 35 Preservation of existing pension scheme

Pension arrangements for fire-fighters are currently provided by the Firemen’s Pension Scheme Order 1992 (S.I. 1992/129 as amended) made under section 26 of the Fire Services Act 1947. The purpose of clause 35 is to ensure that the scheme can continue in operation despite the repeal of the 1947 Act and to enable the 1992 Order to be modified.

Supplementary

Section 36 Prohibition on employment of police

This clause re-enacts section 32 of the Fire Services Act 1947 and provides that no member of a police force (i.e. a police constable) may be employed as a fire-fighter. If an off-duty police officer were employed by a fire and rescue authority, for example as a retained (part-time) fire-fighter, difficulties might arise at the scene of a fire or other emergency due to confusion over which employer had the primary claim on the officer’s services.

PART 5 WATER SUPPLY

Section 37 Duty to secure water supply etc

Subsection (1) re-enacts section 13 of the Fire Services Act 1947, requiring fire and rescue authorities to take all reasonable measures to ensure the adequate supply of water for use in the event of fire. Subsection (2) allows an authority to use any suitable supply of water, whether provided by a water undertaker or any other person. Whilst it provides for payment of reasonable compensation for the water, this is limited by reference to section 147 of the Water Industry Act 1991, which expressly forbids charging by a water undertaker in respect of: water taken for the purpose of extinguishing fires or for any other emergency purposes; water taken for testing apparatus used for extinguishing fires; or for fire-fighting training. This subsection re-enacts section 15(1) of the 1947 Act.

Section 38 Supply of water by water undertakers

This clause re-enacts section 14(1) and (4) of the Fire Services Act 1947 Act and allows a fire and rescue authority to enter into an agreement with a water undertaker for the supply of water (as covered by clause 37). Subsection (2) allows for any agreement to include terms for payment, other than for the purposes covered by section 147 of the Water Industry Act 1991. Subsection (3) makes any obligation of a water undertaker, under an agreement, enforceable by the Secretary of State under section 18 of the Water Industry Act 1991. This gives the Secretary of State power to make an enforcement order to secure compliance with any statutory or other requirement.

Section 39 Emergency supply by water undertaker

This clause re-enacts sections 14(3), 30(4) and 30(4A) of the Fire Services Act 1947. Subsection (1) places an obligation on a water undertaker to take all necessary steps to increase supply and pressure of water for the purpose of extinguishing a fire, if requested to do so by a fire and rescue authority. Subsection (2) allows a water undertaker to shut off water from the mains and pipes in any area to enable it to comply with a request to increase supply and water pressure. Subsection (3) safeguards the fire and rescue authority or any person from any liability for anything done by a water undertaker in complying with its obligations. Subsections (4) and (5) make it an offence for a water undertaker, without reasonable excuse, to fail to take any steps which it is obliged to take and provides for a level 5 fine (currently £5,000) on summary conviction.

Section 40 Supply by other persons

This clause re-enacts section 15(1) of the Fire Services Act 1947 and allows a fire and rescue authority to enter into agreements with persons other than water undertakers in order to secure the use of water; to improve access to water; or to lay and maintain pipes and to carry out other works in connection with the use of water.

Section 41 Fire hydrants

Access to the water supply is by connection to a fire hydrant. Hydrants may be fitted by a water undertaker at the request of a fire and rescue authority. Clause 41(1) requires a water undertaker to mark the location of every fire hydrant with a notice or distinguishing mark and under subsection (2) the costs of doing this can be charged to the fire and rescue authority in whose area the hydrant is situated. This re-enacts provisions in section 14(3) of the Fire Services Act 1947.

Subsection (3) enables the Secretary of State to make regulations providing for uniformity in fire hydrants and the distinguishing notices and marks indicating their location. This re-enacts section 14(6) of the 1947 Act.

Subsection (4) makes any obligation of a water undertaker under subsection (1) and (3) enforceable by the Secretary of State under section 18 of the Water Industry Act 1991, which gives the Secretary of State power to make an enforcement order to secure compliance with any statutory or other requirement. This re-enacts section 14(4) of the 1947 Act.

Subsection (5) makes it an offence for any person to use a fire hydrant other than for the purpose of fire-fighting or any other purpose of a fire and rescue authority; or other than for any purpose authorised by the water undertaker or other person to whom the hydrant belongs.

Subsection (6) makes it an offence to damage or obstruct a fire hydrant. Under subsection (7) a person guilty of an offence under subsection (5) and (6) is liable on summary conviction to a level 2 fine. Subsections (5), (6) and (7) re-state section 14(5) of the 1947 Act.

Section 42 Notice of works affecting water supply and fire hydrants

This clause re-enacts section 16(1) to (3) of the Fire Services Act 1947 and requires any person who proposes to carry out any works for the purpose of supplying water to any part of the area of a fire and rescue authority to give at least six weeks’ written notice to the authority under subsection (1). A person proposing to carry out any works affecting a fire hydrant is required to give at least seven days’ notice in writing.

Under subsection (3), if it is not practicable for written notice to be given, the person is regarded as having given such notice if he gives it as soon as practicable. It is an offence under subsection (4) if, without reasonable excuse, a person fails to give notice as required. Under subsection (5) a person is liable on summary conviction to a level 5 fine.

PART 6 SUPPLEMENTARY

Powers in the event of emergency etc

Section 43 Powers of fire-fighters etc in an emergency etc

This provision provides authorised employees of a fire and rescue authority with the powers to deal with fires, road traffic accidents and other emergencies. It replaces section 30(1) of the Fire Services Act 1947 which was limited to dealing with extinguishing, or preventing the spread of, fires, and recognises the wider range of duties of fire-fighters, including the work which fire and rescue authorities do in responding to road traffic accidents.

Powers of entry

Section 44 Powers of entry

This clause allows an authorised officer of a fire and rescue authority to enter premises to obtain information that is needed for the discharge of the core functions of fire-fighting (clause 7), dealing with road traffic accidents (clause 8) and specified emergencies (clause 9). In the case of premises where a fire has occurred, the clause also allows a fire and rescue authority to gain entry in order to investigate the cause and progression of the fire that has occurred there. Such entry cannot be forcible and 24 hours notice must be given to the occupier of a private dwelling, unless authorised by a Justice of the Peace.

Section 45 Powers of entry: supplementary

Clause 45 sets out the powers and the obligations of an employee of a fire and rescue authority who has entered a place under clause 44 to gain information or investigate the cause and progression of a fire. The powers and obligations are similar to those applicable to investigations under health and safety legislation.

Section 46 Powers of entry: notices

Provides for the means by which a notice under clause 44 may be legally served. It is similar to service provisions under fire safety and health and safety law and will allow legal service by electronic means where the recipient agrees to this. It corresponds to provisions in the Communications Act 2003.

False alarms

Section 47 False alarms of fire

Re-enacts section 31 of the Fire Services Act 1947. This clause provides that a person who knowingly gives or causes someone else to give a false alarm of fire to a person acting on behalf of a fire and rescue authority is liable to a level 4 fine, prison sentence of 51 weeks or less, or both.

Advisory bodies

Section 48 Payments in respect of advisory bodies

Consequential provision

Section 49 Abolition of Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council

Abolishes the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council, which was established under section 29 of the Fire Services Act 1947 to provide general advice to the Secretary of State on matters relating to the operation of that Act. The Council also served as statutory consultee prior to the exercise by the Secretary of State of certain of his regulation-making powers under the 1947 Act (for example with regard to pensions). Where such regulation-making powers are re-enacted elsewhere in the Bill, the Secretary of State will be under a duty to consult with such persons as he considers are appropriate.

Section 50 Repeal of Fire Services Act 1947

Section 51 Amendments

Section 52 Repeal

Schedule 1 — Minor and consequential Amendments
Schedule 2 — Repeals

PART 7 GENERAL

Section 53 Pre-commencement consultation

Section 54 Inquiries: supplementary

Section 55 Meaning of “emergency”

Section 56 Financial provision

Section 57 Orders and regulations

Section 58 Commencement

Contains provisions relating to the coming into force of the Bill. Parts 1-6 come into force on such dates as the Secretary of State by order appoints.

Section 59 Wales

Section 60 Extent

The Bill extends to England and Wales only with the exception of the provisions regarding pensions in Part 4 (as pension policy is a reserved matter) and various consequential provisions which also extend to Scotland. Wherever appropriate, it gives the National Assembly for Wales the powers of the Secretary of State in its application to Wales.

Section 61 Short title

The Act is not expected to have a significant impact on either public expenditure or manpower. Through the process of regional organisation and the introduction of Integrated Risk Management Plans (IRMPs), it is expected that fire and rescue authorities will be given the flexibility to place greater emphasis on prevention and accrue expenditure savings as a result. IRMPs in particular should allow authorities to meet more effectively the particular service demands in their area. Whilst there may be a possibility that some fire and rescue services (typically smaller, rural authorities) could incur some short-term cost increases as a result of adopting the provisions in the Act (such as an enhanced role in promoting fire safety), such costs should be offset in the longer term by the efficiency savings that the Act will bring about.

With regard to any cost and manpower implications of new duties and powers to respond to emergencies such as the new dimension of terrorism, the Secretary of State is able to purchase, and will continue to own, the necessary assets required by the Fire and Rescue Service. Where there are revenue implications arising from the use of such assets for New Dimension purposes, they have been or will be met by the Secretary of State.

REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT

The Fire and Rescue Services Act takes forward the commitments of the White Paper and will involve no additional costs to business, charities or the voluntary sector.

EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The statement has to be made before second reading. The Lord Rooker has made the following statement:

“In my view the provisions of the Fire and Rescue Services Bill are compatible with the Convention rights.”

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March 28, 2011[Last updated: June 29, 2011]

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