The Chief Fire Officers Association reports on its recent re-dedication to developing national and international standards.

After several years of not being effectively engaged in national or international standards development, CFOA recently took the step of creating a role to oversee their future inputs to standards, therefore ensuring that their influence was once more felt in this important area. Chief Fire Officer of Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, Mark Jones, is now leading for CFOA on these issues.

The CFOA board has considered a report which proposed that CFOA's influence on the development of national and international standards had greatly waned in recent times. The board recognises the need for CFOA engagement whilst at the same time recognising the need to limit CFOA member involvement to those areas in which the Association's interests are most prevalent.

Following the Board's considerations, a questionnaire will now be circulated to all FRSs to establish the extent of their current engagement in standard setting, and a secretariat will be established (within Buckinghamshire FRS) for the purposes of managing the contacts with the British Standards Institute (BSI) and other standards bodies.  

Mark has proposed that rather than seeking to be present and active on all committees, CFOA adopts a selective approach to committee representation, getting involved on an issue basis with those committees which may not require regular inputs from the sector. Similarly, the possibility exists that CFOA may engage other parties who are already on the committees to represent the view of the Fire and Rescue Service. It is hoped that this approach will allow the FRSs sufficient influence whilst remaining "light touch" in commitment terms.

The BSI is now reinvigorating committee FSH/0 (Fire Co-ordination), a strategic level group made up of those with interests in the development of fire associated standards, with CFOA playing a leading role. 

Mark Jones said: "Previously, whilst CFOA members and other Fire and Rescue Service staff played a significant role in some of the standard committees, active contributions were generally left to technical members of Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate (HMFSI) who used to take the principal lead in the development of the majority of standards. The demise of HMFSI (England) who, by government mandate, played such a major role in the development of much of the standards work, and the reduction in resources for the Chief Fire and Rescue Advisors Unit (CFRAU) has resulted in a significant reduction in FRS representation in standards committee work."

The reduced resources mean that an apparent reduction in technical expertise from our services is available for standards work at a time when standards development is undergoing a major change. The European Standards Organisation (CEN) is becoming increasingly the dominant influence in the development of standards related to the interests of the FRS. "My early experiences have revealed that the standards setters were crying out for our input and I have learned they felt that there is a real dearth of end user input at the "ideas" stages of standards development. I hope that this initiative will help close the gaps that are apparent."

I think we all recognise that the Fire and Rescue Service has to review its resource commitment but we would always wish to have a degree of influence on those standards which affect fire as a policy issue. This ranges from those which consider the equipment we use, the personal protection we provide and the buildings and safety equipment that goes in them.

One of the challenges for FRSs is to ensure that those nominated are knowledgeable and able to actively contribute to the standards development process. If we are to effectively and credibly engage, we must keep our representatives current and able to act with the Association's mandate. They must also recognise the need to feedback to the workstream they act for". 

The issue of standards will be reported to CFOA's board via Dave Curry, who is the CFOA  Prevention and Protection Director.


Risk Versus Results Roadshow 

Mark Jones will be speaking at FIRE's Risk Versus Results Roadshow from Manchester on January 23rd and Stirling, Scotland on February 7th. A lack of representation on European standards committees was reported by speakers at previous roadshows which have also taken place in the south and the West Midlands. 

To book your place at a forthcoming Roadshow contact: 


Posted January 17th, 2012 at 1000 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: