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Fire management is one of the key areas in any countries security concerns, especially due to the fact that the rising global temperatures are increasing the risks associated with fire in the United Kingdom. This paper will highlight the service needs of the United Kingdom and the efforts the country is taking to ensure that its fire services are up to standards.
Fire services and rescue in this country are some of the most advanced in the world but due to the very changing security needs they need to keep improving. Some of the key quality pointers include the management of the human resource in terms of training and equipment. Fire services also need to be equipped with necessary tools not only to respond well to disasters but also to expand their services to marginalised areas.
There is also a need to implement a reliable quality assurance system within the Fire and Rescue Service in the country. This QA system must not just meet the necessary quality standards but also ensure that it prepares the country for future fire safety needs. As part of quality assurance, a proper audit of all services assets and situation needs will reveal the areas of urgent concern. This audit shroud be continuous and information arising should be relayed in time for a timely response.
The United Kingdom is on red alert after recent revelation about the risk involving the latest climate change patters. The report indicates that due to the rising in the level of global temperatures, the country is now exposed to larger risks of fires. It has been reported that temperatures in the UK have increased by a marginal one degree centigrade but the effects are significant.
Summers will be warmer and drier while winters are expected to be less wet (Department for Communities and Local Government: London 3). Reports indicate that the number of fires in the UK has raised by more than 60% from 1980’s. Other than the rise in fires warmer winters have also increased the threat of flooding, a situation that will also need the response of fire fighters.
As a result, Fire and Rescue Services must do a quick self-evaluation on their preparedness as well as the quality of services they provide. A concise audit of the fire rescue and service department is thus mandatory as it will reveal valuable information on the priority needs. The purpose of this report is to provide an insight into UK’s fire services quality assessment systems.
Quality Assessment: UK Fire and rescue Services
Fire and rescue service providers apply Comprehensive Area Assessment approach to monitor and control their service delivery. The Fire and Rescue National Framework that sets out the responsibilities for their service deliveries guides the fire and rescue service providers.
The Regulatory Reform Order of 2005 for Fire Safety spells out the fire safety standards and is also the legal basis for fire safety standards enforcement. Fire and Rescue Authorities have been mandated with the responsibility of implementing this legislation, and also ensure that the provisions are not abused (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority 16).
According to the Department for Communities and Local Government (6), the response that the Fire and Rescue Service provided during the floods in 2007 demonstrated their professionalism, commitment as well as their flexibility.
The number of fires and deaths resulting from fires has dropped significantly since 1959 (Department for Communities and Local Government 8). This has been attributed to the adoption of the Integrated Risk Management Planning in 2003, which has facilitated the rapid changes in the Fire and Rescue Service (Department for Communities and Local Government 6).
The main objectives of the National Framework includes is to enhance the country’s resilience capability and also to ensure that the Fire and Rescue Service Authorities take ownership of the implementation of the Equality and Diversity Strategy.
The framework is also mandated with the responsibility of ensuring that the Fire and Rescue Authorities are able to meet the needs of the public by applying modern as well as the threats posed by the ever rising global temperatures, by the application of effective and efficient services even during hard economic times (Department for Communities and Local Government 6).
The Comprehensive Area Assessment has ensured that the fire-fighters are well trained and that they are provided with modern vehicles such as small vehicles to access rural and congested areas and equipment to help them improve their response to emergencies and ensure safety to the public (One place Para 14).
The quality assurance system evaluates the conditions of work for the workers to help the fire and rescue companies provide conditions that motivate the fire-fighters and make them more committed to responding to emergency cases. The fire and rescue service companies have adopted Equality Impact Assessment Process to ensure that their policies and procedures are standard and that they meet the diverse needs of the communities they serve.
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The companies have been able to achieve internal and saving efficiencies through improved productivity. The quality assurance system has enabled the fire and rescue service providers to implement flexible approaches to cover emergency cases (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority 45). The fire engines are strategically stationed in different places. This greatly improves efficiency, as they are able to respond to emergencies rapidly and at the right time.
The fire engines are always available twenty four hours a day. They have established performance standards to evaluate time taken to respond to emergencies. They have also been able to change their management structures to adopt area approach commands that allow them align their services with local authorities, communities as well as other partners to better achieve risk reductions (The Fire Brigades Union 46).
The Audit Commission undertakes Comprehensive Performance Assessment so as to review the performance of the fire and rescue service providers so as to enable them implement changes that can better help improve their services. As a result, fire and rescue service companies have been able to assess and quantify risks and risk areas and as such, take specific measures to ensure risk reduction.
The companies provide education to communities on fire safety, fit smoke detectors in homes and take measures that enable them better respond to emergencies. Comprehensive risk reduction involves analyzing the risk profile of each area and then breaking down each area into dwelling fire risks. As part of the Comprehensive Performance Assessment, the Audit Commission approves initiatives for fire and rescue services (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority 58).
The Department of Communities and Local Government undertake research to determine the effects of climate change on fire and rescue services. They advocate for collaboration between climate change research and fire and rescue services (Department for Communities and Local Government: London 3).
Thus, they help fire and rescue service companies align their services with climate change. The Department of Communities and Local Government monitors the fire and rescue service facilities as well as fire-link radio projects to ensure that they meet the standards of modern fire and rescue services (Department for Communities and Local Government 17).
The departments evaluate policies and procedures of fire and rescue services to check their appropriateness to management and maintenance of the fire alarm systems in place (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority 57). The Comprehensive Area Assessment ensures essential reviews of the manner in which fire and rescue service companies deliver and manage their services.
Comprehensive Area Assessment employs the Fire Service Emergency Cover model to predict fire as well as casualty rates of each area by using the local incident data that has been recorded over the past three years (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority 50). It is also used to predict the number of fatalities which may occur in each region. Fire and rescue service providers can therefore deploy their fire engines and fire-fighters in strategic positions that enable them ensure fast response to areas of high risks.
These companies carry out fire risk assessments in homes so as to fit smoke alarms in homes identified to be in high risk areas; and provide advice to homes that are already fitted with working fire alarms. The Fire Service Emergency Cover model is employed to analyze special service occurrences such as fire incidences on roads, rural areas and airports and adopt risk management measures that reduces fatalities (One place Para 9, 10).
Comprehensive Area Assessment is used to identify training gaps for fire fighters as well as equipment to combat such incidences. It is also used to quantify risks as well as to measure positive effects of the fire and rescue service response to special service incidents. It uses national data that has been recorded for several years to evaluate the frequency of fires as well as the rate of fire spread in public and commercial buildings (Health & Safety Executive (a) 28).
Information collected on each building regarding fire risks during fire safety inspections is used to help adjust the risk safety of each building. Fire Service Emergency Cover model is also used to calculate the expected average property loss; and this is used to adjust the speed of response to emergencies (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority 52).
The Comprehensive Area Assessment has ensured that the fire and rescue service providers direct their efforts towards acquiring more modern technologies. As part of Integrated Risk Management Plan, fire and rescue service providers have recognized the need for technological solutions in achieving increased efficiency in their services and resource utilisation.
Software solutions have been adopted to improve performance management framework as well as efficiency in data capture (61). Fire and rescue service providers have adopted increased flexibility in their service delivery as well as in working practices such as performance contracting and resource deployment which have enabled them achieve increased efficiencies over the last few years beginning 2007.
They have also been able to improve their training and development to equip their staffs with skills and competencies which makes them efficient in their performance. Fire and rescue service providers continuously evaluate their training facilities as well as methods of delivery of skills to their staffs to ensure they fit the requirements of their unique duties (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority 62).
In general, quality assurance systems have helped fire and rescue service providers analyse risks as well as effectiveness of their mitigation strategies. In addition, they have been used to target resources as well as specific initiatives to particular groups at higher risks. They have also improved data quantity and quality available for decision making.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS)
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service operate in Devon and Somerset counties and cover Plymouth and Torbay (Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service (a) 1). It is the largest non-metropolitan fire and rescue service in the country. It is involved in prevention and extinguishing fires, rescuing fire, floods and road accident victims among other emergency services. It works within a coordinated approach to provide emergency services in the country.
The company is committed to making communities more salient to risks and therefore involves its staff in helping the communities become safe from fire and other incidences. It partners with related agencies, like the police and the local councils as well as the communities it serves to ensure safety of homes, institutions and businesses (Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service (a) 1).
DSFRS is committed to implementing Equality Act of 2010 and empowers its staff to ensure that they better respond to the expectations of all communities that it serves. Therefore it trains and develops its employees’ potential and ensures that it tailors its operations to embrace diversity. It is committed to strengthening the capacity of the communities it serves and achieves this through partnership with the communities in its programmes (Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service (a) 1).
HCA Empowerment Skills
There is need to change assessment approach in fire fighting in the UK. As such HCA Empowerment Skills have been developed to help, authorities manage the risk associated with fire. HCA Empowerment Skills approach would better help substitute the Comprehensive Area Assessment approach in the wake of the government’s plan to change from the latter quality assurance system. This quality assurance system will enable DSFRS provide fire prevention programmes as well as other emergency rescue programmes.
Efficiency in implementing HCA Empowerment Skills will be achieved faster if communities as well as other partners and other public service providers are involved. DSFRS will be able to develop effective partnership programmes, which are significant in evaluating the effectiveness of its service delivery. HCA Empowerment Skills will enable DSFRS to be more efficient in its local decisions on participation programmes for addressing risk reduction issues.
This approach would also enable DSFRS to continuously evaluate its efficiency in training fire-fighters who are able to effectively deliver target service to communities and direct services to victims. Fire safety audit is one area that has been identified by to consume time that could be used in fire and rescue service as well as businesses in Devon & Somerset. Adopting this approach will enable DSFRS to involve the community in assessing their vulnerabilities (National Empowerment Partnership 38).
Benefits of HCA Empowerment Skills
The quality assurance approach guides customer relationship and individual empowerment (National Empowerment Partnership 38). This implies that HCA Empowerment Skills would enable the DSFRS identify individual communities who will receive prevention services (Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service (b) 4).
The approach enables empowerment of workers and teams involved in the organization’s operations (National Empowerment Partnership 38). Thus it would be useful in evaluating the training and development as well as motivation strategies that DSFRS adopts in achieving quality performance. HCA Empowerment Skills will be used to eliminate barriers to effective participation of workers in responding to emergencies.
The training and development will be focused in ensuring flexibility and sensitivity to community needs. DSFRS would be involved in continuously developing and delivering training to its fire-fighters to reflect critical risks associated with their unique roles in emergency responses (Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service (c) 12).
The approach would enable the organization align its services with the requirements of the communities and in making them flexible enough to carry out other special services. The approach helps in networking and cooperating with community groups and public agencies.
As such local communities are mobilised and empowered with the necessary tools to partner with the movement and local authorities (National Empowerment Partnership 38). This would enable DSFRS work in closer collaboration with the neighbouring Fire & Rescue Services as well as other key partners in the region. It would also ensure that DSFRS achieves timely transfer of information as well as data that can be used for prompt decision-making.
As a result of positive cooperation and networking, DSFRS will therefore be able to develop strategic as well as operational partnerships to gain from their complementary strengths so as to achieve the expected levels of outcome. Thus DSFRS will be able to benefit from the expertise, knowledge as well as resources as it strives to achieve common goals from the partnership Health & Safety Executive (b) 19).
HCA Empowerment Skills is used to help public agencies develop their strategies which their can use to engage with communities (National Empowerment Partnership 38). It also helps in facilitating community participation on local as well as public services. It helps in coordinating empowerment activities across the localities.
Thus the approach will be used to adopt the views of the community members they serve and evaluate the methods employed in integrating the knowledge and experience of other stakeholders which include the community members in developing innovative approaches that can be used to benefit businesses as well as communities. It would enable DSFRS work closely with business owners in achieving the necessary compliance with the fire safety legislation.
It will also ensure that safety information is available in various channels which can be easily accessed by the communities so as to help promote fire safety. The approach would thus enable DSFRS ensure improved resilience capability to the communities it serves. The company will also be able to take account of equality and diversity in planning its emergency response services.
The approach ensures capacity building through partnerships and collaboration with the community. It ensures that evaluation is done on on-going processes and lessons learnt are reviewed to focus on the impacts of the policies and procedures on the future delivery of its services.
It ensures that resources for carrying out emergency and rescue services are strategically deployed across the community. It also ensures that the staffs have the capacity to participate in risk prevention and mitigation by providing them with the skills, knowledge and resources (National Empowerment Partnership 38).
As such, the HCA Empowerment Skills are an avenue that the government is using to harness the citizens efforts in managing local problems. In that way local communities are empowered to build a bigger and effective society that is more useful in seeking solutions to its local problems.
Other than involving the local communities in decision-making, the government used this opportunity to let people see how government resources are utilised for the sake of public good. This thus becomes a good government accounting tool.
Application of HCA Empowerment Skills
HCA Empowerment Skills will be used to align DSFRS’ operation design in the following manner. It will enhance fire-fighting engineering and thus result to better equipment and practices. Other than innovative discoveries, it will also assist the DSFRS in proper maintenance of equipment as well its systems.
HCA Empowerment Skills will also lead to improved training and development of fire fighters. Such training leads to equipping DSFRS human resource with the necessary local and international standards of operation that will enhance efficiency in service the local communities. It would be used to ensure that quality policies of DSFRS consistently meet the requirements of the communities as it also achieves sustainable profitable growth.
In conclusion, Implementation of this quality assurance system would involve adopting independent auditing authorities to continuously monitor and evaluate the competence of DSFRS service delivery and partnership involvement with other agencies and community groups. Quality service also means that information from these audits is relayed to the concerned authority for timely response.
Meeting the ever-raising need s needs a thorough audit to inform the authorities on the priority needs. This should involve the Department of Communities and Local Government in monitoring and evaluating its activities. The departments should also be involved in recommending the activities of the organization.
In addition to that, the quality assurance should be used to carry out internal audit of its effectiveness and efficiency (Audit Commission (b) 26). It would also involve empowering each staff to make them individually and collectively responsible in delivering quality services. The quality assurance system would be used to align the operations of the DSFRS with the International Standard ISO9001 and to also ensure that it complies with the safety requirements of the National Framework.
The mission and policy statement must be structured to reflect the organization’s compliance with ISO9001 (Deming 71). It would also be used to identify the companies’ areas that do not comply with its performance benchmarks and therefore adopt corrective measures (Health & Safety Executive (a) 21). Identification should involve members of the community, partner agencies as well as through evidence of its performance.
This would be helpful in reviewing DSFRS resources to ensure that the staffs have the equipment and materials for providing emergency services. Finally, in ensuring that the quality assurance system works to align the practices of the organization to its objectives, it is important to frequently audit and review the activities associated with the organization’s service delivery and implement the improvement recommendations (Audit Commission (a) 14).
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