An expert led review into the operational efficiency of the services delivered by fire and rescue authorities in England was announced today [14 Dec].

The review is to be conducted by former firefighter and out-going government Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, Sir Ken Knight, in the new year.

It will seek to "identify ways fire and rescue authorities can pinpoint savings and improvements without reducing the quality life-saving services that the country’s firefighters are known for".

Overall, fire and rescue authority spending power reductions - which takes into account grants from central government and council tax, was limited to 2.2% in 2011-12 and 0.5% in 2012-13.

After announcing the review, Fire Minister Brandon Lewis said: "We all recognise our firefighters perform an incredibly important public service. That is why spending for fire and rescue authorities, like other blue light services, has been protected. But we cannot escape the reality that every bit of the public sector has to help reduce the deficit we inherited.

"Public safety is always our first concern and this review will make sure no stone has been left unturned in the quest for the most efficient and effective front-line fire service there can be. I know Sir Ken is passionate about the quality of fire and rescue services and he will bring an enormous amount of experience and knowledge to the task."

Fire deaths and incidents are at an all time low. Over the last decade attendance at incidences has fallen by 39% and attendance at fires by 48%. The review will help today’s fire service reflect that change.

Many authorities have begun making efficiencies, but there is more that can be done to be more transparent about spending or introduce joint working with other emergency services liked shared senior management structures, improved procurement practices and better use of estates.

In conducting the review, Sir Ken Knight will talk to key partners to help develop his findings including the Local Government Association, Fire Sector Federation, the Chief Fire Officers’ Association and the Fire Brigades Union, as well as individual authorities and other emergency services. The report is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013.

Posted 14/12/2012 by