Leighton Andrews AM, Minister for Public Services
I have today published the fifth report on Fire and Rescue Authorities’ (FRAs) activities under the Fire and Rescue National Framework 2012 Onwards. This covers the period from April 2013 to March 2015.
The report summarises information regarding Fire and Rescue Authorities’ (FRAs) activity across three key themes (collaboration, efficiency, and innovation). It concludes that the three FRAs have largely acted in accordance with the Framework.
This report coincides with my consultation, starting today, on a new Fire and Rescue National Framework which will apply from 2016 onwards. It describes what the Welsh Government expects of the FRAs and creates the foundation on which to build and promote improvement, efficiency and innovation.
The consultation sets out the Welsh Government’s vision and priorities for FRAs in the context of the changing environment in which they operate. Severe medium to long-term pressure on public finances requires a renewed effort to ensure Fire and Rescue Services are as efficient as possible whilst still maintaining effective response and prevention services to our communities.
FRAs’ capability and expertise has contributed to a significant and sustained reduction in the incidence and severity of fires in Wales. However, that same success has meant the role of the Service is changing. I recognise that FRAs need to maintain appropriate staffing levels to enable them to respond effectively to emergency fire incidents and road traffic collisions. But the latent capacity resulting from maintaining these response levels can, and should, be used to enhance collaboration, and to improve fire safety and fire prevention. It is no longer appropriate to see the Service as simply a means of responding to and fighting fires when they arise, although that is, of course, still essential. The draft Framework focuses on the theme of expanding the FRAs’ activities to support the wider public sector and, as a consequence, communities and individuals themselves.
I look forward to receiving a wide range of responses to this consultation.