Beware black holes: despite the North East's 'No' vote for a regional assembly, the ODPM is rightly buoyant following the announcement of funding for home fire risk checks and free smoke alarms. However, with the raft of legislation coming the fire sector's way, there is no room for complacency.(View)

It has been a mixed month for the ODPM, symptomatic of how it has functioned over recent times: a welcome initiative that will benefit the nation, followed by a crushing blow that shattered the Deputy Prime Minister's dreams.

It is certainly not one of those dusty departments that only gets a mention when MPs suddenly decide to try and find out what its function is. The launch of the free smoke alarm campaign (see Parliamentary Roundup opposite) is a great boost for community fire safety, in fact the biggest single fire safety boom this country has witnessed.

Full credit to the department for launching an initiative that will undoubtedly save lives. Better still, it is a strategic, targeted distribution that practices what IRMPs preach--protecting the vulnerable in society. …

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