The Fire Service - An overview

FIRE in HISTORY

The devastating effect of a uncontrolled or contained fire in a crowded city or township is well known. The Great Fire of London in the September of 1666 can be described as an eye opener. The fire devastated 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, The Royal Exchange, The Guild Hall, the original St. Paul’s Cathedral and many other buildings over nearly four days. The recorded death toll was six people. Yet many could have been unaccounted for and others may have died through some indirect causes. It was estimated that the conflagration consumed 70,000 homes of the city's 80,000 inhabitants. A lesson learnt in history.

The fire-fighter

The role and the skill of an average fire-fighter has changed over the years. He is now a “skilled professional worker, in fact a specialist in fire fighting. Early years saw fire-fighters (Firemen) as mostly part time personnel who came when called for. This tradition has been recorded in the Ipswich Fire Service around 1875.(Ref: http://www.ipswichtransportmuseum.co.uk/hfire.htm) The wartime operations were vastly different to peacetime operations.

Fire services in UK

Fire services in UK are formed nationally for England, Scotland and Wales. A separate service exists for Northern Ireland.

All of these services are part of or put under the Fire & Rescue Service (FRS), which is legislated by government. The FRS is directly governed and funded by a Fire Authority, which is a statutory body made up of a committee of local councillors and others.

The FRS were previously known and formed as the Fire Brigade or county fire services. FRS is the usual operational body for fire-fighting of that region, which comes under the Fire & Rescue Authority. This Fire and Rescue Authority is a legislative, public and administrative body. The role of the Chief Fire & Rescue Advisor was created in 2007.

Ref: http://www.fireservice.co.uk/

To search for all the Fire & Rescue Service stations please refer:

http://www.fireservice.co.uk/information/ukfrs      (OR)

http://www.fire-riskassessment.com/fire-safety/fire-authorities.html

To know all about firefighter's job profile please refer:

https://nextstep.direct.gov.uk/PlanningYourCareer/JobProfiles/JobProfile0186/Pages/default.aspx

Report that changed things – Independent Review of the Fire Services

It was the publication of the Report – Independent Review of the Fire Services by Prof. Sir George Bain that brought about organizational change in 2002.

(Refer to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bain_(academic))

The review was chaired by Prof. Sir George Bains and two others, namely, Sir Michael Lyons and Sir Anthony Young. It was this report that proved to be a catalyst for change. The restructuring is going on.

Fire and Rescue National Framework

The Fire and Rescue National Framework is meant to state Government's expectations of the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS).

Ref: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/fire/nationalframework200811

"The National Framework sets out the Government's expectations for the Service and what is required of Fire and Rescue Authorities to meet those expectations. The Government has a duty under the FRS Act 2004 to produce the Framework and keep it current. Fire and Rescue Authorities must have regard to the Framework in carrying out their duties."

World War 2 Fire Service

The AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) became a national organisation in 1938 and was to be the key force in fighting the “Blitz”. The aerial bombardment by the German Luftwaffe, called the “Blitz”, started when explosives and incendiary bombs fell in May of 1940 in South East England. The intensive blitz on 29th December 1940, on the square mile of the city of London was unparalleled in the entire history of fires. The London fire brigade covered the entire London County Area, an extent of 117 sq. miles. During war time, expansion was made including the AFS . Men were brought back from retirement and those due for retirement were asked to remain.

Fire safety concerns addressed by the UK government.

If we visit the website www.direct.gov.uk we can find fire safety advice for parents and child carers. Just click on the link here: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/Yourchildshealthandsafety/Yourchildssafetyinthehome/DG_10038395

Firefighter's Benefits

Firefighters get medical benefits and dental coverage. Their families also benefit. The firemen have access to union memberships, insurance coverage, retirement programmes, etc.

A New Firefighters' Pension Scheme (NFPS) was introduced. It is for regular and retained fire-fighters employed since 6th April 2006. The following links will be helpful:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/fire/firerescueservice/firefighterpensions/newfirefighterspension/    (OR)

http://www.sppa.gov.uk/fire/documents/NFPSTransferFactorsGuidancewef20Oct2008FINAL1.pdf

Salary Benefits: There's a national agreed salary structure with starting salaries around £21,157 and they can raise up to £28,199. Crew managers and station managers earn more. Higher the rank better the salaries.

Fire-fighter Recruitment:

The UK Fire Services Resources (Ref: http://www.fireservice.co.uk/recruitment) will give anyone all necessary details. Right from how to apply and prepare for recruitment, the website has lots of other information. Other sites like http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/index.asp will give anyone reading what is demanded by the service. Try out -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_classes also http://www.becomeafirefighter.co.uk/

Fire-fighter Training:

The Fire Service College is known as one of the world's leading fire training colleges. The college has a wealth of experience in its instructors supported by training facilities. This college meets the needs of the Fire & Rescue Service. The institution works with UK and international emergency responders, besides large commercial industries.

Ref: http://www.fireservicecollege.ac.uk/fschome.aspx OR http://www.fireservicecollege.ac.uk/training.aspx

Retained Firefighters

A Retained Firefighter could be anybody with a regular job, but will be called in for fire-fighting duties when required. Some 18,000 retained firefighters are employed in the UK. In many parts of the country they serve as a trained fire service. These are first on scene at a house fire, a car crash or flooding incident. They are employed by the FRS of the area. Links below will be helpful to understand their work and status.

The Fire Safety (Protection) Engineer

These websites below are relevant for the Fire Safety (Protection) Engineer and also for the operational Fire Officer. For a close look at firefighting requirements and innovative fire protection and smoke management features that might have some direct effect on the firefighting strategies and tactics employed by firefighters the following websites are relevant

Other related Fire Service organisations.

Various organisations and bodies have taken up the cause of fire fighting and safety. Their contributions too is of importance and help in this overview.

http://www.fobfo.org/home/

Since the year 1962, the Federation of British Fire Organisations has been presenting the views of all major fire organisations in the United Kingdom to national and international audiences.

http://fire.org.uk/ :

Over the past 20 years, FireNet has been prominent in providing information, contacts and informative Forums for the fire community. The new website is redesigned for automation. It enables a speedier method getting content and a clean view for those looking for information.

http://www.firefighterscharity.org.uk

The Fire-fighters Charity is for Fire Service personnel and their dependants. During their time of need they provide support and treatment. They do not have government funding.

http://www.firemansamonline.com/uk/PontyPandy/Fireman_Sam/index.asp

This is an interesting animated website about an imaginary cartoon character Fireman Sam, which helps create awareness about fire safety and fire-fighting.

CLASSES OF FIRE

An understanding of fire class can be helpful:

Comparison of fire classes

American European Australian/Asian Fuel/Heat source
Class A

Class A

Class A

Ordinary combustibles

Class B

Class B

Class B

Flammable liquids

Class C

Class C

Flammable gases

Class C

UNCLASSIFIED

Class E

Electrical equipment

Class D

Class D

Class D

Combustible metals

Class K

Class F

Class F

Cooking oil or fat

Further classification:

1. ordinary combustibles
2. flammable liquid & gas
3. electrical
4. metal
5. cooking oils & fats (kitchen fires)

Ref : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_classes

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