Regular Blackwatchers will recall, our frequent references over the years to the growing and increasingly costly army of British civil servants.

A depressing litany indeed to extend into 2006 but necessary as we launch into an especially crucial period of firefighting reform. Because now the focus will fall not simply on numbers or the security of index-linked pensions but on competence as well.

Are the plans being laid down by this "Rolls Royce service" likely to meet the necessary needs of such change?

On April 1 next--an appropriate date perhaps--the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order main articles will descend upon us. This so-called 'suite' (more Likely a small hotel) of 11 guidance documents is designed to inspire safety, assisted by publicity support and suchlike. …

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