Chief Fire Officer responds to Government’s White Paper on the future of the fire service

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer has welcomed the launch of the Government’s White Paper on the future of the fire service.

Darren Dovey said: “Firefighters are justifiably held in high esteem by the public they serve. I believe that is more likely to remain the case in the future if we play our part in shaping reform of the sector.

“For a long time, I have lobbied with my colleagues in the National Fire Chiefs’ council for fundamental reform. The fire service is full of committed people who rush towards danger when others move away. They want to give their best to keep people safe and these proposals will support them with consistent standards of professional training and support.

“A more flexible structure will allow us to attract and retain talented people from all backgrounds. The people in our organisation are the key to its success – they are the ones that keep the public safe, so the focus on leadership and development of fire services and the increased focus on equality, diversity and inclusion is very important.

“The world has changed but the way the fire service is structured has not kept up. The white paper is an opportunity to ensure the fire service continues to play a central role in keeping the public safe.”

At the centre of the Government’s Fire Reform White Paper are plans to deliver:

  • Increased public safety: by improving the professionalism of the fire and rescue service through modern workforce practices and potentially establishing a College of Fire and Rescue
  • Improved accountability: through the proposals to transfer fire governance to a single elected individual, overseeing delivery by operationally independent Chief Fire Officers
  • Better engagement with the public: through the 10-week consultation the government will listen to the views of the public and stakeholders, after which it will finalise its reform programme

Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold has also welcomed the launch of the White Paper, saying that it gives a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform the sector.

Stephen said: “I welcome this white paper as an opportunity to fundamentally reform the fire service so that the professional skills of those firefighters and staff who do such outstanding work to keep the community safe can be used to their fullest extent within a structure fit for the risks we face today.

“As one of just four Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners, I am directly elected to the public and am accountable to them. Under my governance and away from the old county council, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service has been given financial stability and has been able to plan to modernise and develop as an organisation.

“The Chief Fire Officer and his team have the stability and autonomy they need, and our fire service is better equipped, prepared and able to respond when called on to do so. Our shared approach to buildings and professional services with the police has resulted in closer collaboration that makes sense to the public and can only result in better outcomes.

“But it takes more than response to deal with the changing risks that face our communities – prevention, protection, community resilience are all vital to public safety. We saw this clearly during the pandemic, when firefighters stepped up to carry out a variety of roles to keep people safe and keep public services moving.

“That must be the catalyst for reform and to ensure our fire service is able to meet the challenges that face communities today and tomorrow. I welcome this opportunity to make changes that will enable firefighters to reach the highest professional standards, to have the most rewarding career path and to play the strongest role in community safety.”

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