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Fire Reform White Paper and Consultation: Government’s Official Response

Volume 742: debated on Tuesday 12 December 2023

I am pleased to announce to the House that the Government are today publishing our official response to the fire reform White Paper and consultation.

Last year we published our White Paper, “Reforming Our Fire and Rescue Service” (CP 670), to gauge the public and sector’s views on how we wished to drive reform within fire and rescue services. Our proposals were built on the lessons learned from the covid-19 pandemic as well as the recommendations from His Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary and fire and rescue services’ independent inspections, challenging national report findings and the Grenfell Tower inquiry.

In the period since the White Paper was published, further challenges in the fire sector have been the focus of public and parliamentary debate. I refer, in particular, to the independent review of culture in the London Fire Brigade and the HMICFRS national spotlight report into values and culture. These reports highlighted misconduct in multiple fire and rescue services and uncovered totally unacceptable behaviours. Our White Paper response sets out our ambition to improve integrity across the sector.

The feedback on our proposals has allowed us to refine our next steps and announce today our package of reform, which will focus on the areas that have the biggest impact for the public and for fire professionals: developing a profession to be proud of and ensuring that fire services do more to put the public first. These include:

Introducing a professional college of fire and rescue to raise standards and strengthen leadership

Developing provision for fire chiefs to have operational independence

Tasking the National Joint Council to review the pay negotiation mechanism

Taking action to improve integrity and culture in fire and rescue services through improved training, more open recruitment practices and working towards a statutory code of ethics for fire and rescue employees.

Our fire and rescue professionals deserve our support as they not only respond to a changing world but also seek to develop and strengthen their own capabilities. This consultation response sets out how we can work together with partners across the fire sector to deliver this.

I would like to put on record my thanks to everyone who has engaged with us on our White Paper and consultation. Whether they have helped us shape our proposals or provided feedback on how they can work, their help has ensured we can drive forward much-needed and long overdue reform for our fire and rescue services and ensure the best possible service for the public.

The Government’s response has been laid before Parliament as a Command Paper (CP 993) and will be available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reforming-our-fire-and-rescue-service

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