Making Scotland safer: reducing fire fatalities: Minister for Justice Cathy Jamieson opened conference with a discourse on the state of the Fire and Rescue Service, where the Service fits with the Executive's agenda for making Scotland safer and the proposed contents of a Fire Services Bill for Scotland.

The Executive is not only committed to modernising the Fire Service in Scotland, Minister for Justice Cathy Jamieson maintained, they are also pressing to introduce reforms that will reduce risks and lead to a safer and more efficient service. The key drivers for change to do this, she said, are prevention, intervention, performance and people, set out in the consultation paper, The Scottish Fire Service of the Future. A paper which, the Minister reported, echoed much of what was said in the Bain report.

Ms Jamieson announced that the changes would require legislation that will be introduced in the form of a Fire Services Bill for Scotland in the first session of Parliament. "We will use the Bill to set out the strategic direction for the Service, which has been criticised as lacking," she told delegates before listing the key aspects:

* Fire authorities will be given a statutory responsibility to place greater emphasis on fire prevention and community safety work;

* The Fire Service's role in fire investigation work will be enhanced;

* The burden on businesses will be reduced by reforming the current fragmented workplace fire precautions legislation whilst at the same time improving the protection of those at work;

* Integrated Risk Management Plans will be required el all authorities, which will seek to put the right response in place at the right time to protect the public;

* The role, powers and duties of fire authorities will be strengthened and clarified; and,

* Partnership working and collaboration will be encouraged. …

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