§ Mr. Raynsford
The Independent Review of the Fire Service recommended a new and more flexible approach to fire cover. It suggested that resources should be deployed to ensure that the right resources such as 421W firefighters, fire stations, and fire appliances are in the right place at the right time to save lives where they are at risk. This new approach is not about cutting fire stations or firefighters. It is about better targeting Fire Service resources at identified risks in a cost-effective manner.
The Task Group on the Fire Cover Review (whose report is widely referred to as the "Pathfinder report") developed a Fire Service Emergency Cover Methodology. This was used by the Task Group to predict resource and personnel requirements, and their related cost. This was done both for the 11 fire brigades which participated in the Pathfinder trials and, by extrapolation, nationally. However, while the Task Group endorsed the basic methodology, a number of teething problems led the group to reject the detailed calculations, which are now being repeated following further work. The Fire Cover Review has developed a model to inform decisions about the allocation of emergency response resources (fire stations, red engines, and crews). The model has been tested twice in computer simulations. The first test run suggested that you could spend twice the current Fire Service budget without achieving much reduction in risk. The second test run suggested that you could halve expenditure without much increase in current levels of loss of life and property.
These two simulations have set out two extreme cases. But taken together, and even allowing for some technical errors which have come to light in the early results, the findings suggest that substantial improvements in Fire Service efficiency and effectiveness are achievable. This judgement has been endorsed by the Bain report.
The report of the Fire Cover Review was published in draft on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister website on 23 December 2002 (www.odpm.gov.uk). Copies of the final report of the Independent Review of the Fire Service, and the draft Fire Cover Review report have been placed in the Library of the House.
§ Mr. Raynsford
The Independent Review of the Fire Service recommended a new and more flexible approach to fire cover in which resources would be deployed in the right place at the right time to meet identified risks to life and property. This new approach is not about cutting the number of firefighters. Under these proposals, democratically accountable fire authorities, acting on the professional advice of Chief Fire Officers, would take decisions on the provision of fire cover. The review considered that the recommendations it made could be implemented without the need for compulsory redundancies.
§ Mr. Wiggin
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he intends to revise fire service guidance on the employment of people with diabetes as firefighters. 422W
§ Mr. Raynsford
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is reviewing the existing guidance to the fire service on the employment of people with diabetes as fire fighters. Key interest groups are being consulted, and the review will take account of all relevant legislation.