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In this century, changes due to globalization have resulted in far more interdependence than which existed during the last century when most of the activities in the world were confined within geographical boundaries. Currently, there is free flow of information and resources from one country to another.
Similarly, the activities of the fire and rescue services in the United Kingdom have not been limited to the country alone. Occasionally, fire fighters in this country are required to carry out a rescue mission for mitigating emergencies that are rampant in various places around the world, such as the recent Haiti Earthquake.
Therefore, it is commendable progress when our Fire authority is considering becoming part of the UK’S International search and rescue team. However, before taking part in such a mission, we need to take into consideration the various legal, ethical, and global issues concerning this initiative.
Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004
The England and Wales Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 would be applicable in how our Fire authority would carry out its operations.
The Act is the first major change in the law concerning the operation of the Fire and Rescue Service since the introduction of the first Act way back in 1947 (Great Britain Parliament, 5). The previous Act limited the functions of the Service to fighting fires hence limited the number of operations it could engage in.
However, as a result of passing the new Act, the responsibilities of the Service has transformed a great deal. Consequently, the fire and rescue authorities currently have various statutory obligations appertaining to fire safety, fire fighting, road traffic accidents, and emergencies.
Under the new Act, a number of new key provisions are applicable to our fire service in accomplishing its mission abroad (. The act promotes fire safety initiatives among fire and rescue authorities; therefore, underpins the change toward a more prevention-based and risk assessed approach.
This is able to assist in preventing more deaths by lowering the number of fires incidences taking place in the first place. This new legislative package establishes a new package of powers and responsibilities for effective and efficient service. The new role is beneficial for the operations of a modern Fire and Rescue Service.
The Act authorizes the fire and rescue authorities to take part in rescuing road traffic accidents. In addition, it allows for responsibilities in responding to other emergencies. These may include catastrophic flooding and acts of terrorism. Critically, the legislation provides for amendment in line with how the duties of the Fire and Rescue Service may be defined in the future.
Moreover, the Fire and Rescue Service is also endowed with the responsibility of performing other obligations in response to the specific requirements of their communities and the threats they encounter.
The new legislative framework achieves this through making sure that the various fire and rescue authorities present in the country can undertake duties that are not particularly outlined in the Act but which will assist them accomplish their statutory obligations as well as allowing the authorities to employ staff and equipment, according to their capacity for any appropriate purpose.
Furthermore, the act gives fire and rescue authorities the ability to organize appropriately for the occurrence of other threats to life and the environment. For instance, they can establish local training centres to equipping people with skills necessary for responding to threats of life or the environment in their area.
The Act guarantees an effective and efficient service to the public. In both national and international levels, fire and rescue authorities uphold equality, diversity, and fairness in service provision. In addition, they have the skill and adaptability necessary in addressing the present challenges. These factors make it possible for the authorities to fulfill the varied requirements of all diversified communities both locally and abroad.
The adoption of ‘equality’ and ‘diversity’ are the two crucial elements of service provision that Fire and Rescue upholds. These elements affirms that the service, which relies totally on the applied statutes, norms, and procedures of the association, must drive towards the plan it gets treated and it must result in effective service provision to all sections of the community.
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Under what is referred to as mutual assistance, for the first time, the Act allows fire and rescue authorities to enter into reinforcement schemes and to delegate the delivery of functions to other fire services or fire authorities. Concerning information and investigation, the Act takes a new approach by allowing for the entry of an authorized employee of a fire service or fire authority for establishing the cause of the fire. These statutory powers also entail the authority to take samples from the scene of the tragedy.
The Act plays key role in assisting fire and rescue authorities in confronting the global challenges of this new millennium. The new framework of powers and responsibilities puts prevention strategies on a similar footing with intervention strategies (Furness and Muckett, 352).
It makes it possible for individual fire and rescue authorities to make appropriate decisions after holding discussions with their communities. They can then choose on how and where to channel their resources. The Act therefore takes note of the wider role of the fire and rescue authorities and enables them to act in response to the various risks outlined in their Integrated Risk Management Plans.
British firefighters’ response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake
The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 would be applicable in the operations of the search and rescue teams when carrying out their duties abroad. For example, during the Haiti earthquake, the UK fire and rescue authorities demonstrated their role in responding to global catastrophes. The earthquake, which had an epicentre near the town of Leogane, took place on January 12, 2010 and affected the lives of about three million people.
The country’s authorities estimated that about two hundred and thirty thousand individuals had died, three hundred thousand had been injured and one million made homeless. The earthquake also caused severe damages to the country’s infrastructure. Several nations responded to appeals for humanitarian aid. Besides funds, some of them dispatched their rescue teams to undertake the duty of saving lives.
Although the rescue efforts were hampered by the extent of the massive destruction, the efforts started in the immediate aftermath of the quake. The UK search and rescue workers were not left behind in the emergency operation.
The International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander said, “It is already clear that we are facing a major humanitarian crisis. The most pressing need is for international search and rescue teams – including firefighters from all over Britain – to get on with their work of saving lives” (PSCA International Ltd, para. 7).
Consequently, after about forty-eight hours of the quake, UK’s 64 firefighters from Gatwick arrived in the devastated country “to get on with their work of saving lives.” Other firefighters across Britain soon joined them and they worked in six different teams. They realized remarkable success in this mission, rescuing four survivors in ten days.
This was achieved despite the limitations they faced on trying to use their heavy equipment. In the international rescue efforts, it is notable that the British search and rescue teams became the first to reach the epicentre of the earthquake, Leogane. They arrived on 17 January.
As if referring to the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, Douglas Alexander said:
We need to get search and rescue teams on the ground. Every hour matters. There will be humanitarian requirements for food, shelter and sanitation. It is critical to co-ordinate the international effort.
We have to work with others to make sure everyone does not turn up with the same equipment. This is a terrible tragedy and we are determined to do what we can to help…We are talking to the USA and UN about mobilizing (PSCA International Ltd, para. 4).
As was exemplified by the humanitarian response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the Act provided the British firefighters with new framework of powers and duties for confronting the emerging challenges of this century.
The British search and rescue teams were able to assist in saving more lives, deliver effective and efficient service, work with appropriate equipment, provide local training centres for the Haiti people, and work with other rescue teams from around the world.
If the role of fire service in the UK were still restricted by the previous Act, which did not give the service the powers to respond to other eventualities, the operation in Haiti to save lives would not have realized such success.
Globalization effects on fire and rescue service
The changes in our world due to globalization affect the legislative and substantive work of those in the fire and rescue service. The forces of globalization have led to significant changes to individual nations.
Local and international economies have been unified through trade, labor, foreign direct investment, and the spread of innovative ideas. The drive for globalization has broken down the walls of geographical constraints.
Principally, globalization has been driven by the urge to realize a global common market for goods and services. As a result, the international community now has an increased access to the wider varieties of services since services are no longer confined to a particular country.
This has been aided by the development of the global market coupled with advance in technology that has improved transactions. Consequently, globalization forces have compelled fire and rescue service to change its legislative and substantive work to take care of this increased need.
Because of the need of globalization, fire service and rescue authorities have changed their approach concerning fire prevention and community fire safety. Currently, more initiatives have been channeled to improving fire prevention efforts and educating the public. In addition, organizations and people are being motivated to assume responsibility for providing a risk evaluation of organizations.
Historically, fire safety was the responsibility of the British local authorities. However, the passing of the Fire Services Act in 1947 changed this. The Fire Brigades started to assume the role. Currently, the transformation of the United Kingdom fire service to global standards has considered its function concerning fire safety issues.
The country’s fire service and rescue authorities have prioritized the issue. Most of them have produced Integrated Management Plans. This initiative takes note of their new role in service provision. They now have well laid down plans for fire safety in the place of work as well as in the community. At present, every brigade in UK has established community-based fire safety units as a proactive strategy for devolving their functions.
Ethical considerations in fire and rescue services
The fire and rescue services, too, have to deal with ethical considerations, which they have to face on a daily basis, even when on a mission abroad.
Fire service and rescue services ethics entail a set of principles and philosophy that are consistent with their key mission of saving lives. Ethics in fire and rescue services entails the area of interpersonal, group, as well as community politics in relation to set values.
It is not just what can be accomplished, or how it can be accomplished. However, it is more focused on what should be sought, in the realm of social harmony and fairness. In fact, it is the intricacy of the opposite side of individualism. Ethical considerations in fire and rescue services take note of the fire fighters proper relationship amongst themselves, their duties to the public, locally and internationally.
In dealing with ethical dilemmas, fire and rescue services embrace professional integrity and responsiveness to the civil society. The twenty-first century appears to have dawned with a burden of conflicting values and divergent responsibilities for the firefighters.
Therefore, to maintain professional integrity in the service, which is fundamental in dealing with ethical issues, the following are done. These are recruitment based on merit and verified by special tests, appropriate disciplinary measures undertaken for promoting corporate spirit, and training and education undertaken occasionally for improving professionalism.
In this regard, most firefighters acknowledge that ethical dilemmas are normal and expected aspect of their work. Since firefighters have to sort out complicated (or not so complicated) ethical dilemmas in their daily activities, recognizing this lowers the stress that can impede their self-confidence and ability of tackling these issues efficiently.
More so, to tackle ethical dilemmas, firefighters learn to treat such issues like any other business issue, tackle rationalizations head-on, and develop a strong sense of right and wrong.
Role of fire and rescue services
Once, the role of the fire and rescue services was limited only to putting out fires. However, in this present changing world environment, the fire and rescue services have a wider role to play.
They are often called to tackle different emergencies, varying from fighting fires and saving individuals from enflamed buildings to dealing with chemical spillages and road accidents. A firefighter’s problem solving ability and initiative is of essence in bringing a solution to issues swiftly and calmly.
Today’s firefighter always upholds a sensitive approach when dealing with people during emergencies since at such times they may be miserable and perplexed. The role of the modern firefighter is always changing to address the increasing requirements of the community.
Fire and rescue services work hand in hand with the community in increasing their level of awareness concerning fire safety (Haslam, para. 1). Therefore, this is able to prevent incidents from taking place in the first place. Today’s firefighter delivers efficient services to the members of the public and handles them with dignity and respect, not considering their background or ethnicity.
Since it is often a race against time to save lives and calm fire, firefighters know how dangerous fires are; therefore, they make concerted efforts from preventing them from occurring. They achieve this by educating the public through visiting institutions, community centres and homes on how to prevent fires and escape from buildings in case of unfortunate fire incidences.
With the aim of saving life, guarding possessions, and providing humanitarian assistance if there is need, the modern firefighters are always prepared to respond to various incidents involving fires, road, air and marine transport accidents, terrorist threats, and trapped individuals and even animals if resources permit.
The consideration that our brigade is making of becoming part of the International search and rescue team with other UK brigades is achievable. The information provided above will be very much of essence for the success of the mission.
The introduction of the fire and rescue services Act 2004 gives fire authorities a new framework of powers and responsibilities for confronting the current global challenges. During the 2010 Haiti earthquake, UK firefighters were able to assist in saving lives in a foreign country.
This was possible because the Act recognized the wider role that brigades are undertaking in responding to eventualities because of the effects of globalization. In dealing with ethical considerations, fire and rescue services embrace professionalism and integrity in their work.
Furness, Andrew, and Muckett, Martin. Introduction to fire safety management. Oxford:
Butterworth-Heinemann, 2007. Print.
Great Britain Parliament. The Fire and Rescue Service : fourth report of Session 2005-
PSCA International Ltd. “Every hour matters’ for survivors of earthquake.” Public Service. 14 Jan. 2010. Web. www.publicservice.co.uk/feature_story.asp?id=13495