lynchFIRE editor Andrew Lynch reflects upon the need to take personal responsibility:

In recent years the fire and rescue services have made a cultural shift towards recruiting personnel who reflect the communities they serve; a move I feel that could easily backfire if all aspects of the community were indeed to be represented.

It appears that fire services have also made a cultural shift towards abdicating personal responsibility; of waiting to be told what to do and blaming outside forces if things go awry. Is this an exaggeration or apposite reflection of contemporary fire politics?

Evidence
1) At a recent UK Parliamentary seminar on ‘Understanding Fire Safety in Buildings’ (see January's FIRE) insurers claimed they were not engaged at an early enough stage of building construction to help reduce escalating building fire costs.

2) At the IFE-supported Fire Related Research and Developments Conference at the UK’s Fire Service College (see January's FIRE) the keynote speaker, David Wales from Kent Fire and Rescue Service, said he had been accused of failing to disseminate research findings.

3) In his inaugural address to members, the UK Chief Fire Officers Association’s President Paul Fuller called for a grown-up” funding relationship with government, moving away from the transactional arrangement to an agreement about what services can and cannot be provided with the resources available.

4) This reporter is asked at Fire Sector Federation meetings if the body is likely to prove effective.

5) In his inaugural address the International President of the IFE Grant Lupton called for members to think about what they could do for the Institution, not what it could do for them.

Explanation
1) If your business is life safety (whatever your function), do you need an invitation to attend a meeting? Do you really have to wait to be asked?

2) Kent Fire and Rescue’s research on everything from building a database on the response of victims’ of fire to the threat presented by solar panels has been reported widely in International Fire Professional and FIRE magazines. Further, the fire related research event is the only such knowledge exchange opportunity of its kind in the UK and for fire personnel not to be present and accuse others of failing to disseminate information is poor.

3) The previous arrangement stems from a culture described by Mr Fuller as similar to “a parent-child relationship”, one that has been engrained for decades, one that is clearly long overdue for an overhaul.

4) My response is simple: What are you here for? What is the point of you? What are you going to do about it?

5) If we were all to take up the mantle thrown down by the likes of Mr Lupton and Mr Fuller, would we not ensure that fire safety provision is in the best possible hands?

Let us ensure that the latter statement is not an exaggeration but an apposite reflection of contemporary fire safety engineering.