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Fire Services: Safety

Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the purpose is of Integrated Risk Management Plans (IRMPs); what role his Department plays in monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of IRMPs; and if he will make a statement. (305418)

Integrated Risk Management Planning (IRMP) underpins the reforms to the Fire and Rescue Service that flowed from the White Paper ‘Our Fire and Rescue Service’ published in June 2003. Since then, fire and rescue authorities have shifted their focus from intervention to put a greater emphasis on fire prevention. The aim is to improve community safety, reduce the commercial, economic and social impact of fires and other emergency incidents, and make a more productive use of fire and rescue service resources to meet today's risks. That approach means that each authority now determines its policies and standards for prevention, protection and intervention in the light of the risks identified, which enables it to target those areas or sections of the community that are at particularly high risk. The Fire and Rescue Service National Framework 2008-11 requires IRMPs to be regularly reviewed and revised and to reflect up to date risk information and evaluation of service delivery outcomes.

The Government are committed to enabling local authorities and local communities to make appropriate decisions at the local level. It is therefore not the role of Ministers to intervene in, or even comment upon, the operational proposals of an individual fire and rescue authority's IRMP; that is for elected members of the authority concerned to determine following full consultation with the local community The fire authority is best placed to act on the professional advice of principal officers and to balance the competing local demands on available resources for the benefits of the communities they serve.

A comprehensive review of the adequacy and impact on a nationwide basis of IRMP policy and implementation has been carried out on the Department's behalf by Mott Macdonald, and a report will be published. The report will be considered in discussion with stakeholders.

The Audit Commission takes account of individual fire and rescue authorities' IRMPs in drawing up annual assessments as part of the Comprehensive Area Assessment.