Adopting a foresight approach in an intelligent and informed way, the aim is to attempt to predict what will be needed in the future so the whole sector can innovate the best solutions for what may lie ahead and create a momentum to take forward Fire Service and fire sector collaboration for the benefit of our communities.

All too often in our history it has taken a major incident, usually with tragic consequences, to drive change and innovation, often with the simple focus of avoiding the risk of a repeat. This initiative intends to develop thinking and knowledge sharing so that we do not have to wait for another Grenfell or King’s Cross to inform our preparations. There is a wealth of expertise and knowledge across the fire sector that just needs to be teased out of the current information silos and mixed with wider knowledge and data to create and share so that society can better manage and mitigate risk.

How people live, their health, wealth and wellbeing and the significance of the built environment, climate change technological development and shifts in economic and political influence, are all risk factors as we look ahead. UK population growth is predicted to be among the highest in Europe with an increasingly higher proportion of older people.

The significant changes in society require foresight if those who seek to protect communities from fire are to be successful. Facing emerging areas, which are impacted globally by the Covid-19 pandemic and events like Brexit, requires a sophisticated, integrated and informed community able to adapt, mitigate and manage fire and other associated safety risks.

The UK is among the leading nations in the world when it comes to fire safety but there is still much that can be learned from other countries. We may physically be an island but our outlook and assimilation of learning is global. Similarly, when we see effective preventative approaches in other sectors, that are adaptable or inspirational, we should seek to learn, embrace and improve.

Under this initiative, the Fire Sector Federation and its members will work in partnership with the NFCC to collate available evidence from across the sector, capturing future perceptions and predictions, that may help manage risk through innovative new technology and assets.

The objective is to clarify challenges, identify risks, propose solutions and describe reference points to assist all stakeholders to develop the innovative practices and products required in the years to come.

The first event held at the end of last year was an online brainstorming discussion with representatives from FSF membership, the UK Fire and Rescue Service and experts from across the supply chain. The strongest message that came out of the session was the need for the sector to find an effective way to share knowledge and data.

Those leading the initiative will take up the challenge of bringing that knowledge and expertise together to develop solutions to help mitigate the risks that society is likely to face in the decades ahead.