More change is urgently required says Chief Inspector

Fire and rescue services in England have made improvements in some areas, but more change is urgently required, a new report has found

In his third and final assessment of England’s fire and rescue services before leaving his post in March 2022, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services, Sir Thomas Winsor, found that:

  • Services have made good progress on protection, which includes auditing the safety of premises at risk of fire, and that most services are better at promoting a positive professional culture
  • Outdated and ineffective structures for negotiating pay, terms and conditions are where reform is most needed, which would reduce the risk of industrial action; and
  • If no progress is made on national reform, then the removal of firefighters’ right to strike should be considered.

Following publication of the State of Fire and Rescue – The Annual Assessment of Fire and Rescue Services in England 2021, Sir Thomas Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services, said: “Firefighters and other staff continue to work hard to help their communities, and I thank them for their service – particularly during the pandemic. The fire and rescue sector has made progress in some areas since our first inspections in 2018, but more change is urgently required.

“I am disappointed that the windspeed of national reform has dropped. Although the pandemic has understandably delayed progress, the public cannot wait any longer. The efficiency and effectiveness of services is hindered by the continued threat of industrial action, and the removal of firefighters’ right to strike should be considered.

“Another obstacle hampering progress to modernise this important public service is a woeful lack of workforce diversity.

“Responsibility to make these changes does not lie solely with chief fire officers – political leaders and policy makers must also take action and raise the priority of fire reform. The service, its staff and the public deserve no less.”

The Chief Inspector previously made six recommendations for national reform of the fire and rescue sector. One of these recommendations was to introduce a code of ethics. Following the publication of the code in May 2021, the Chief Inspector has said he had already seen evidence of services making the code part of their values and policies.

However, Sir Thomas Winsor said four of his recommendations have still not been implemented. These include giving chief fire officers’ operational independence, reviewing the machinery determining terms and conditions, and the Home Office determining the role of fire and rescue services and firefighters.

The report also mentioned improvements made by several services, including Avon and Surrey. During the inspectorate’s first inspections in 2018, these were two of the services with the worst performance.

See pg 21 for special report on the inspectorate’s findings and interview with Sir Thomas Winsor on pg 24.

Half a million vaccinations given by fire and rescue staff

The National Fire Chiefs Council report that more than half a million Covid-19 vaccinations have now been given by fire and rescue services staff

This amazing figure now stands at 510,540 – showing just how ready, willing and able fire services are to step up at short notice. And these figures are only set to increase as services continue their outstanding efforts to support the national programme.

It is estimated up to 2,500 members of staff are supporting this vital work to get everyone eligible protected and boosted. Between December 27 and January 2, 6,311 vaccinations were given – an increase of more than a thousand from the week before.

As well as giving the jabs, fire services have spent more than 280,000 hours supporting the programme. This includes setting up sites, delivering vaccines and marshalling.

Following the government announcement in December that an additional 1,500 pop-up sites were to be opened in a bid to get as many people boosted as possible, fire and rescue services offered their continued support to their health partners to give vital help and assistance.

Some services were up and running within 48 hours – helping support communities in a bid to keep them safe. This builds on existing work which has been underway since the start of 2021. Retired members of staff have also volunteered, along with people giving up their free time to help.

Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council Mark Hardingham said: “To deliver more than half a million vaccinations to the public is an incredible achievement and contribution from staff across fire and rescue services.

“Once again, staff have stood up and assisted where help is needed most; I would like to thank each and every fire service for their hard work in supporting the vaccination programme.

“Supporting partners and helping to alleviate pressure on the NHS is at the heart of this work; we will continue for as long as we are needed. This widescale dedication to support the public is at the heart of all fire and rescue services do and it is humbling to see.”

See below and Regional Roundup on pg 18 for examples of assistance.

  • Tyne and Wear: Stood up the centre at the Newcastle Eagles arena just four days after being asked for support.
  • Cambridgeshire: One volunteer has given more than 3,000 vaccinations since May in his free time.
  • Lancashire: Administered more than 1,000 vaccinations in just five days – and dedicated staff ensured hard-to-reach communities were supported.
  • Merseyside: Contributed more than 10,300 hours and delivered more than 82,000 vaccinations.
  • Manchester: Set up a dedicated helpline to ensure people could book vaccinations.
  • South Wales: Staff are continuing to offer support. Staff who are experienced and skilled in areas such as first aid and trauma care will also now be administering the vaccines to assist local health boards.
  • Staffordshire: Set up a walk-in centre at its HQ.
  • Kent: Staff collected thousands of vaccines from hospitals across the area and delivered them to centres.
  • Shropshire: Staff are operating four walk-in booster clinics, seven days a week, 12 hours a day, to help support their partners. They delivered more than 300 vaccinations on the first day alone in one clinic.
  • Nottinghamshire: Staff went back to sites to help in support of their partner organisations. They carried out 215 hours of vaccination support and administered 1,357 vaccines in just one week.
  • Surrey: New recruits due to start on stations in the new year were asked to assist with the vaccination effort.
  • Avon Fire and Rescue Service has nine trained vaccinators who are helping the vaccination/booster programme.
  • South Yorkshire: Staff have provided almost 150 volunteer hours to deliver more than 1,600 vaccines.
  • Cheshire: Have given more than 90,000 vaccinations and are once again supporting NHS colleagues, with 139 staff trained as volunteers.
  • Cleveland Fire Brigade’s ‘grab a jab’ campaign has had great success and has now more than 10,000 volunteer hours to the pandemic.



Fire and rescue personnel recognised in the New Year Honours list

The Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council has congratulated all those who have been recognised in the New Year Honours list

Once again, people from fire and rescue services have been honoured by Her Majesty The Queen. These are prestigious honours recognising those who have committed themselves to serving and helping the country; are outstanding at what they do; make a difference to their communities or field of work; improve life for people, and display moral courage.

National Fire Chiefs Council Chair Mark Hardingham praised those who have been honoured, saying: “I am delighted that we continue to see people from fire and rescue services being honoured, and I am incredibly proud to see so many colleagues included for their outstanding work.

“2021 brought challenges across the world, and UK fire and rescue services once again stepped forward to help serve their country, wherever and whenever help was needed most. This has continued throughout the pandemic alongside the challenging day-to-day work of those working for fire and rescue services.

“I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to all those honoured this year by the Queen. It goes without saying, I continue to be amazed and proud of staff across fire and rescue services and their outstanding dedication and commitment to the people they serve.”

The list below highlights people from fire and rescue services who have received a New Year Honour.

British Empire Medal (BEM)

  • Rabinder Singh Dhami, Prevention Manager, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service. For services to Fire and Rescue.
  • Alan Gibson Fundraiser, Fire Fighters Charity. For services to charity and to the community in County Durham.
  • Rebecca Jayne Jefferies Head, Human Resources and Learning and Development, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service. For services to fire and rescue.
  • Lindsay Sielski, Crew Manager, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. For services to Fire and Rescue.
  • John Craig Wall, Group Manager, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service. For charitable services in Cumbria.

Queen’s Fire Service Medal (QFSM)

  • John Andrew Buckley, Chief Fire Officer, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service. For distinguished service.
  • Jennifer Elizabeth Griffiths, lately, Group Manager, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service. For distinguished service.
  • Sally Angeline Hammond, Group Manager, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. For distinguished service.
  • Justin Johnston, Chief Fire Officer, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. For distinguished service.
  • Nicholas Searle, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. For distinguished service.

Aviation association hosts training conference

The Airport Fire Officers Association reports on the association’s recent mini conference at the International Fire Training Centre, Tees Valley Airport

Members were welcomed by Airport Fire Officers Association (AFOA) committee member Waine Weaver and Gary Watson, Business Operations Manager at the International Fire Training Centre (IFTC). Delegates enjoyed a packed programme of speakers covering diverse aviation fire and rescue topics with a particular focus on training and broader industry updates.

Matt Bourner, Watch Manager at Manchester Airport Rescue and Firefighting Service, started the day with an inspirational presentation on his own recovery from a motorcycle accident to become the first amputee firefighter in the UK Airport Rescue and Firefighting Service and the fourth amputee firefighter serving in UK fire and rescue services. Matt gave a very open and honest account of the long and very hard journey back from injury to normal life and operational duties. Clearly a very determined individual, he emphasised the importance of general fitness, a positive attitude and goal setting. Matt is an amputee counsellor for the Limbless Association and AFOA has made a £500 donation to this worthy charity.

Left: AFOA held their mini conference at the International Fire Training Centre, Tees Valley Airport

Right: IFTC’s state-of-the art virtual reality suite offers the opportunity to deal with a realistic emergency within a safe classroom environment

Gregor Lindsay, Head of Learning and Development at The Emergency Planning College (EPC), then presented on UK Resilience; The Evolving Landscape. Historically, resilience has strongly focused on the protection of people, property and assets, but the government is now looking more broadly at organisational resilience and the wider economy, making resilience an intrinsic part of national security and incorporating greater interoperability. Resilience planning is being driven by a determination to better understand risk and to ensure greater preparedness via exercises. There is recognition of the role played by the private sector and a greater focus on teams, people and upskilling. The National Risk Register is now being updated on an ongoing basis, rather than every two years. The National Situation Centre, established to combat the pandemic, is now up and running. There is also a drive to better understand interdependency and to ensure it is possible to handle several issues at the same time.

Paul McDonald, CEO, and Joseph Gallagher, Director of Operations and Development at Camor Ltd, presented on Integration and Communication for a Multi-agency Environment. Emphasising the need for greater use of interoperable training exercises, Paul McDonald referred to a security incident at Edinburgh Airport in 2014 to highlight practical and communications issues and how emergency service teams were able to work together. Joseph Gallagher used an incident at Glasgow Airport in 1999, when a Cessna crashed after take-off, to highlight the many communications issues that can be expected arise.

Taking a break from presentations, delegates had the choice of touring IFTC’s comprehensive fire ground facility and the VR suite. The fire ground features more than 25 training simulators with multiple ARFF vehicles and different aircraft ranging from an A380 CAT 10 simulation rig, a full Trident aircraft, 747 CAT 9 simulation rig, military and civil helicopters and a Tornado aircraft. IFTC’s state-of-the-art virtual reality suite offers the opportunity to deal with a realistic emergency within a safe classroom environment. Students can generate their own emergency scenarios in great detail by controlling factors such as weather conditions, types of buildings, traffic flow and incident details.

Steve Milton, MD of Emergency Response Driver Training, started the afternoon session of the conference looking at the complex requirements under Section 19 for driver training of emergency vehicles when responding to landslides, expected to come into force in May 2022. Delegates were guided through the complexities of possible exemptions and training requirements for blue light, high speed and road speed driving. Blue light driving of Class 2 (light) vehicles will require 120 hours training, Class 4 (heavy) vehicles will require 80 hours.

Chris Thain, Business Development Manager at G3 Systems, gave an enlightening presentation on firefighter training in a combat zone, looking specifically at G3’s work supporting airfields in Afghanistan up to the withdrawal US forces. This work included a number of logistical challenges and cultural issues, including language barriers and rapid ‘skills fade’.

IFTC’s Gary Watson gave a refreshing look at team dynamics in a CPD-accredited session. He highlighted four key character types into which all of us can typically be divided. Recognising our own and our colleagues’ characteristics can be key to forming successful working relationships, recognising our differing strengths and needs.

Dr Thomas Budd, Lecturer in Airport Planning and Management at Cranfield University, outlined the work the university is doing in the field of RFFS hydrogen-fuelled aircraft response training, specifically the use of VR training tools for an immersive, safe and secure environment. These new training tools will be free to download on any device including PCs, laptops and smart phones from March 2022. AFOA members and the ARFF community are encouraged to visit: where they can download the Hydrogen Safety in Aviation brochure. AFOA is planning to host a feedback session on the training at the next mini conference in 2022.

Neil Gray of the Civil Aviation Authority rounded out the day with an industry update. Topics covered included post-Brexit aviation rule changes (which will made by the Department for Transport) and changes to rebated fuel ‘Red Diesel’ (airfield vehicle use highly unlikely to be legal from April 1, 2022). Neil ended by exploring future flight challenge projects and their likely implications for ARFFs including sustainable aviation fuels; electric, hybrid and hydrogen aircraft and vertipods and urban air mobility.

The day ended with a fine Christmas dinner provided by the IFTC. A charity raffle held raised £376 for The Firefighters’ Charity.

AFOA has decided not to hold its traditional full-scale conference in 2022. Its next mini conference event is scheduled to be held at the end of the first quarter of 2022, with details to be confirmed. The AFOA AGM is scheduled to take place at the Emergency Services Show at the NEC, Birmingham September 21-22, 2022. The next full-scale AFOA conference is scheduled for February 2023.

Firefighters urged to protect themselves from toxic fire contaminants

Firefighters have been urged to protect themselves from toxic fire contaminants in response to research that found more than four times higher rates of cancer among firefighters who took part, relative to the general public1

It is thought that toxic fire contaminants are playing a role in increasing firefighters’ chances of developing cancer and other diseases.

The research, from the University of Central Lancashire and involving 10,000 serving firefighters being surveyed, was released at the end of last year, and in the time since the Fire Brigades Union has developed training and guidance aimed at helping firefighters protect themselves from fire contaminants.

The training and guidance, called DECON, encourages firefighters to take actions before, during, and after every fire incident to help reduce their own, their co-workers’ and their families’ exposure to fire contaminants. DECON encourages firefighters to change simple behaviours, such as better cleaning practices around fire kit and firefighters themselves.

One of the difficulties is a lack of research and understanding in the area leaving a training gap in firefighter’s knowledge – putting health at risk. This is thought to be part of the reasoning behind the FBU commissioning this work.

Firefighters are also being encouraged to fill in a University of Central Lancashire firefighter cancer and disease registry, which is set to help push forward research in this area and help save firefighter lives.

FBU national officer Riccardo la Torre is now urging firefighters to take up this training and guidance, and fill in the cancer and disease registry. He said: “It’s shocking that research suggests that firefighters are more than four times more likely to get cancer than a member of the public. But this risk is avoidable, the chances of contracting a cancer or disease as a result of firefighting doesn’t have to be so high, and we can all work to make the profession safer for us and our families.

“In the past, firefighters have been let down by a lack of information and a lax safety culture being allowed to prevail. DECON guidance and training helps firefighters protect themselves through simple actions like better cleaning of gear and making sure to always wear breathing apparatus when it’s needed, never putting it on too late. We would urge every firefighter to have a look at the guidance and contact their local Fire Brigades Union representatives about the training.

“The University of Central Lancashire Firefighter Cancer and Disease Registry will also help save firefighter lives by pushing forward research in this area, so it’s vital that firefighters play their part here too and fill it in.”

Details on the DECON training and guidance can be found at: The Firefighter Cancer and Disease Registry can be accessed at


The Fire Fighters Charity receives £50,000 donation

The Barratt Developments PLC Charitable Foundation (the ‘Barratt Foundation’) has donated £50,000 to The Fire Fighters Charity, to support its ongoing work helping the UK’s fire services community

The Barratt Foundation generously donated the money after being contacted by a Leicestershire firefighter, Jon Butler, who was one of several new recruits helping to organise a fundraising challenge in aid of the charity.

The group of 13 ran, cycled, and kayaked a total of 330 miles (double the circumference of the county) in October, not only raising funds for the charity, but also more awareness about the support it offers to thousands of beneficiaries every year. Jon was sadly unable to take part in the challenge at the last minute but supported his colleagues throughout.

Having seen this amazing example of how Fire and Rescue Service personnel go above and beyond to support the charity, particularly after the pandemic put a stop to its usual fundraising activity, the Barratt Foundation wanted to give its own, very generous donation, in support of the challenge.

The £50,000 will go a long way in supporting the charity’s vital work; offering specialist, lifelong support for members of the entire UK fire services community, empowering individuals to achieve mental, physical and social wellbeing throughout their lives.

It comes as the charity launches a winter fundraising appeal amid a growing need for mental health support across the UK’s fire and rescue services.

Ruth Powell, Director of Engagement and Fundraising at The Fire Fighters Charity, says: “On behalf of everyone at The Fire Fighters Charity, I want to thank the Barratt Foundation for its incredibly generous donation of £50,000, which will go so far in helping us to continue offering our vital support to the UK’s fire services community, when they need us most.

“I also want to send my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Jon for initiating this valued partnership. The challenge he and his colleagues helped organise is a superb example of how much Fire and Rescue Service personnel recognise and value their own charity and we are so grateful.”

Barratt Developments PLC (’Barratt’) launched The Barratt Foundation earlier this year to mark building its 500,000th home and to bring its wide range of charitable activities under one organisation.

As part of its charitable giving strategy, The Barratt Foundation supports a range of local and national good causes and encourages employees of Barratt to get involved with both fundraising and volunteering.

Tina Bains, a Trustee at the Barratt Foundation, says: “We are proud to support The Fire Fighters Charity with this £50,000 donation. With our group’s registered office and East Midlands teams both being based in Leicestershire, it made perfect sense to support Jon Butler from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service with his fundraising challenge.

“Firefighters risk their own lives each and every day to save the lives and welfare of others, so it seemed only right that we support a charity that is the only organisation dedicated to assisting serving and ex members of the fire brigade whenever they may need help.”

Fire Fighters Charity launches joint health programme for Fire Service community

With musculoskeletal injuries and issues accounting for the largest number of missed working days across the UK’s fire services, The Fire Fighters Charity has launched a new awareness programme to help Fire and Rescue Service personnel, past and present, to look after their hard-working joints

Taking an in-depth look into the health of the fire community’s joints and some of its most common issues, the three-month programme will see the charity publish a broad range of multimedia content to its fire-focussed wellbeing and social portal, My Fire Fighters Charity (MyFFC).

Created by the charity’s expert practitioner teams, this library of fire-specific information will include articles, films, exercise tutorials, recipes and nutrition advice, real-life stories, infographics and podcasts, covering everything from back care and pain management, to Tai Chi and sleep. Exclusively available to registered users of MyFFC, the charity’s new portal will allow users to interact with the content, join discussions, ask questions of the experts, take part in surveys and access further support.

Sharon Bailey, Director of Beneficiary Services at The Fire Fighters Charity, said of the newly launched programme: “Over the next three months, we’re going to be focussing on healthy joints and providing everyone across our community – serving personnel, those who have retired and families – with a wide range of resources to help ensure that they are aware of the importance of good bone health and of the simple things they can do to look after their bones and joints throughout their lives.”

Exploring issues that affect individuals’ mental health, as well as their physical health, the programme has been designed to ensure that it can be of benefit to every member of the fire services community, whatever the stage of their life or career.

Members of the fire services community can find out more on the Charity’s website:

Download the My Fire Fighters Charity app from your Android or iOS app store or register online at:

When the “extraordinary becomes the ordinary”

National Fire Chiefs Council Chair Mark Hardingham reflects on a year in which fire and rescue personnel have met the challenges presented by the pandemic and looks forward to embracing transformation and culture change

As we start 2022 and look forward to a new year, I wanted to take some time to both reflect and look forward.

It has been nine months since I took over the role of NFCC chair. I feel privileged to represent every fire and rescue service in the UK and all the incredible work they do. Some of that is highly visible to the public, much of it happens behind the scenes – all of it is with the ultimate aim to keep people safe.

It will come as no surprise to anyone when I say that working for an emergency service means the ‘extraordinary becomes the ordinary’. This is more poignant than ever when we look back at the challenges the last year has brought – and continues to bring, especially as the pandemic enters a new phase with the Omicron variant.

Vaccination Boost

People working in fire and rescue services have done so much over the last year – this includes a staggering 477,000 vaccinations, supported more than 130,000 ambulance journeys, made countless deliveries to vulnerable people, and done so many other things working alongside partners throughout the pandemic.

And with recent government announcements about the new variant and the commitment to offer everyone a booster jab by the end of the year, fire and rescue services have once again immediately stepped forward to help. Within hours of the Prime Minister’s announcement, services were mobilising staff to assist; it is truly humbling what colleagues have achieved when their communities need them most. This outstanding work was reflected in HMICFRS’s Covid inspection and the recent 2021 State of Fire reports.

When I took on this role, I wanted to ensure I had a good insight into every fire service. As part of this, I have now met with nearly every leadership team to set out my views about the NFCC and FRS, and to listen to what is important to you – and what you need from NFCC to support you. These will continue with the remaining services into 2022.

To reflect on the past 12 months, we have seen so much work take place, covering a huge and diverse range of areas.

Sustainability and National Resilience

Back in August we saw wildfires devastate Greece and through our National Resilience function – at the request of the Home Secretary – we sent a team at short notice to assist our Greek colleagues. Demonstrating professionalism, dedication and always wanting to make a difference.

And this ties in with the recent COP26 in Glasgow where world leaders met to discuss and agree on the next steps around tackling emissions. We need to see change and we need to see it happen at pace – including within fire and rescue services. The wildfire season is getting longer and we are seeing more widescale flooding. Without behavioural change these will get more intense and more likely to impact on our ability to effectively respond.

We are working on a national environment and sustainability strategy for fire services, with climate change at the core of this. There are links in this work to the new National Resilience Strategy and the Fire Service’s New Dimensions programme. We must have the right equipment, people, training and funding to support communities as they face the national risks that will emerge over the next 20 years. They have come to expect our professional and dynamic support and we must maintain this.

Moving onto Fire Standards, I am delighted to see eight national standards have now been launched with many more in the pipeline. They are a key component of continuous improvement, they provide focus for fire and rescue services, and are a core component of inspection as outlined in the recent State of Fire report.

Future of the Fire and Rescue Service

While we have not yet seen the proposed Fire Reform White Paper, this hasn’t stopped our work on the future role of the Fire and Rescue Service. NFCC is working on ‘Fit for the Future’ – in partnership with the LGA and the National Employers (England) – to ensure we are identifying and setting out the Fire and Rescue Service’s future vision. This is vital in meeting public expectations and their demands of a modern Fire and Rescue Service.

As we look forward to 2022 and hopefully start to see the country – and indeed the wider world – tackle and recover from Covid and Omicron, I would like to reflect on the winter pressures our colleagues in the NHS are facing – time and again you are being asked to go that extra mile and you do so ably and without question. We are proud to have been asked to support you and do so willingly and in a way which reflects the culture amongst the blue light family and our partners – all to ensure communities feel safe and supported.

Yet we also need to ensure we are looking after our staff and their wellbeing. Thousands of staff have taken on so much during 2020 and 2021. Mental health is a growing concern, and it is imperative everyone knows where they can access vital support, and that it is okay not to be okay.

Mental Health Symposium

This is something close to my heart and I recently attended the Royal Foundation Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium. Attended by the Duke of Cambridge, the event aimed to ensure all emergency responders receive the often specialist mental health support they need.

Senior UK fire representatives and other blue light services signed up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment; I was proud to do so for all fire services, through the NFCC. This will form part of the Blue Light Together package providing mental health support for emergency services, announced at the event.

The Commitment supports our national programme of work to assist fire and rescue services as they seek to provide the best possible support for those who suffer with poor mental health, including providing access to the best possible support when they need it most. The event and the Foundation help bring together emergency service leaders to work in partnership and create lasting change.

Societal Changes

I recently attended the Asian Fire Service Association conference and annual awards where we saw inspirational and energised speakers, delegates and award winners. The passion in the room was palpable and it was clear that whilst work is underway in fire services there is still much to do. Some of the stories shared were shocking and there are clearly behaviours that have no place in a modern Fire and Rescue Service. Former international footballer John Barnes called for a discussion about ‘societal changes’ and I could not agree more. Again, the State of Fire referenced this and challenged us all to improve inclusion and tackle shortfalls in diversity.

Building Safety

As you would expect, the protection and building safety agenda remains a key focus in the work of NFCC.

The Building Safety Bill is now at the committee stage; it places new duties on those responsible for buildings and provides a new focus on the needs of residents, as it needs to do. The Fire Safety Act is likely to come into force in early 2022. It was designed to ‘ensure that people feel safe in their homes and a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire will never happen again.’

A recent government announcement stated that leaseholders should not have to foot the bill for the removal of cladding; something we have been very clear on and strongly endorse. I look forward to seeing how this develops, what it means in reality and how it eases the unacceptable burden leaseholders face.

The Grenfell Tower and Manchester Arena inquiries continue with further recommendations expected in 2022. NFCC will be responding to these with services and in a way which responds to the learning and makes people safer. The inquiries will raise significant issues and it is essential we tackle these head on and make changes for the better. However, many cannot be achieved by the Fire and Rescue Service in isolation; they need change from government, the wider sector and associated professions, all with a willingness to adapt, transform and create cultural change.

It is clear that fire and rescue services have seen a busy 2021, with no sign of this letting up in the New Year. Your dedication and determination make me proud to represent you all; your hard work and service to your communities is highly appreciated.

What the future holds for the IFE and its members

IFE Chief Executive Steve Hamm looks forward to the practical delivery of safer high-rise buildings with the forthcoming Fire Safety Act

The year has started with fresh announcements from the government and British Standards Institution (BSI) that are designed to bring more clarity around the practical delivery of safer high-rise buildings, with the Fire Safety Act expected to come into force imminently.

This is good news, and the IFE has been involved in helping to shape the changes to crucial guidance for assessing the fire risk of external walls in high-rise buildings.

The BSI’s PAS 9980, which came into effect at the end of January, provides a much-needed consistent framework for dealing with cladding and high-rise buildings following the legislative changes that tighten requirements for building and fire safety driven by Grenfell.

The lessons learned from Grenfell have also prompted demands for more rigour around the competency of fire risk assessors. This has meant strengthening the professionalism of fire risk assessment in ways that will help to rebuild confidence that the right people are in place to help prevent the kinds of conditions that led to such a dramatic loss of life in 2017. In practice, this year sees anyone wanting to register as a Fire Risk Assessor with the IFE also required to become registered with the Engineering Council via the IFE.

In our strategy, launched last summer, we identified competency and sustainability as two key areas that would demand focus from the organisation. Wherever you are and regardless of the aspect of fire engineering you are involved in, building confidence in your abilities and finding ways to adapt to a changing fire landscape will impact on us all.

Looking ahead, advances in technologies and materials, external factors such as climate change and learnings from major incidents are giving our Special Interest Groups (SIGs) a range of fascinating areas to investigate in 2022.

We have experts from around the world looking at the implications of adopting fuels such as hydrogen in our transport systems and homes, the rapid rise in the use of lithium-ion batteries for both transport and energy storage, and the quest for more carbon friendly materials for our buildings.

A new SIG being launched this year by our Chair Mark Chubb will also look at human factors, notably how we make decisions under stress and also those made when we have time. The group will consider support systems to help make decisions in these scenarios.

We will continue to be at the forefront of influencing many aspects of future guidance, training and qualifications that will enable members to adapt to changes in the industry with confidence.

Our collaborative work with other organisations in the industry, such as our recent industry workshop to examine the practical implications of the Fire Safety Act on the role of fire risk assessors in the UK, is enabling us to ensure consistency and clarity on key issues of interest to our members.

Our shift to virtual learning and events will continue in the year ahead, widening access to CPD and other events to our members, increasing our ability to knowledge share and learn from each other. We are all hoping for the return to more face-to-face events that will continue to put us at the forefront of networks, enabling us to shape ideas, innovation, policy and regulations.

We also have exciting plans to provide additional support to our national and international branch network with a branch support hub on our website being launched in 2022. Developed in consultation with members, the new hub will provide valuable resources to meet their needs now and in the future.

We are also recruiting a volunteer and branch support manager, as well as a membership executive. The new roles will further open knowledge sharing opportunities and give members greater access to useful insight and resources as we navigate the changes, innovations and opportunities ahead.

For more information visit: