CFOA President Lee Howell reflects on the launch of the European Fire Strategy Towards a Safer Europe, which took place last month in Brussels.

A safer Europe for all is the overriding theme of the pan European Fire Strategy, adopted by the Federation of the European Union Fire Officer Associations (FEU). This is the first time such an ambitious programme has been attempted which has at its heart a desire to share good practice in order to improve the safety of citizens of Europe and our firefighters. The origins of the strategy stem back to a CFOA initiative we placed on the agenda at a meeting of European Fire Chiefs in Aachen, Germany in 2010.

CFOA wanted to ensure that there was a European fire strategy to better protect the 500 million people living, working and travelling within the 27 countries that comprise the European Union. Safety and security have become key factors in ensuring a high quality of life in European society, and in protecting our critical infrastructure through preventing and tackling common threats.

The strategy sets out what needs to be done, what the drivers are, and how we can achieve our collective aims and goals. There are commitments associated with this strategy for respective professional associations and we also need governments to support this and ensure that safety of the citizens of the EU is afforded the priority that it deserves. It is anticipated that this will help shape the fire-related policy agenda for the future.

The strategy has a desire to improve firefighter and public safety at its core and allows a single point of entry for European policy makers to seek a common view from senior professionals across Europe.

Whilst there are trade and business associations that have influence within Europe, it is only the FEU that represents the most senior leaders within the profession. As such, we have no agenda apart from wishing to improve public and firefighter safety.

The launch event was chaired by Cllr Doris Ansari, South West Committee of the Regions elected member and was supported by presentations from Dr Dieter Nussler, President of the FEU, myself (presenting the vision) and Des Prichard who covered a number of issues associated with the Working Time Directive.

The event concluded with an address from Peter Billing, the Commissioner's representative from the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Directorate.

CFOA hosted the event at the Jacques Delors Committee of the Regions building and the event was attended by approximately 60 delegates including: MEPs, Committee of the Regions elected members, policy officers and representatives from CFOA and other professional fire officer associations throughout Europe.

Through this strategy and by establishing better links within the European machinery of government, CFOA and other professional fire associations now have a direct link and stronger influence through the Committee of the Regions and MEPs in order to inform European policy work. Given the complexities of European working, this is an achievement in itself.

The test of the strategy will be how we implement the commitments it contains. European policy moves forward slowly but at least professionals now have a common platform from which to make progress and in doing so can ensure the citizens of Europe and our staff are safer as a result.

A copy of the strategy document can be downloaded from the CFOA website:


Federation of the European Union Fire Officer Associations 

The Federation of the European Union Fire Officer Associations (FEU) is an independent professional body of the most senior fire professionals from EU countries that have responsibility for the strategic management of the fire and rescue services in their respective countries.

Each country has established an association at national level that supports the collective views and interests of these career principal officers. Collectively we lead 2.7 million firefighters within Europe and as FEU members we work in a voluntary capacity and are answerable to our own member associations. Presently the FEU represents senior fire officers in the following FEU countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.


Posted April 3rd, 2012 at 1520 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: