Fire

Riverdale and the risk management plan.(Risk Management)

The difficult balancing act that exists between actual risk, perceived risk and the affordability of matching resources to risk is something that fire and rescue services have been dealing with for centuries. However, with individual FRAs now in a position to determine its own response standard, is the country setting the clock back decades?

PROTECTING CITIZENS WHO believe they are in danger while balancing the budget whether as part of a political or financial cycle has been a perpetual uphill struggle. For a period of some 50 years up to 2003, fire cover in the UK has been based upon national standards; before 1947, each fire authority developed its own response standard. With individual FRAs now in a position to determine its own response standard, is the country setting the clock back decades?

Fundamental Beliefs

A number of fundamental beliefs could be questioned. The first is that given the variety of response standards set within IRMPs, often based upon current performance levels, and made publicly available, will be vulnerable to challenge by a predatory media. How long will it be before charges of a "fire cover lottery" are made when someone dies in a fire in controversial circumstances irrespective of the fact that in reality attendance times are still the same?

The more sophisticated a society, the more risk averse both individuals and politicians become, sometimes distorting rationality and the notion that social services, including the fire and rescue services, have a duty to spend their resources in achieving the greatest good for the greatest number. Accordingly, a number of services are now directing resources to deliver home fire risk assessments in low incidence rural communities, rather than concentrating these scarce resources to do the same work where the incidence of fires and deaths are greater--the urban and suburban zones.

Taking the point further, the success of the FRAs in reducing accidental fire deaths in the UK to a tolerable level (about one in 200,000), the question is, have life safety concerns overwhelmed the fire planning process and are now threatening to divert fire prevention resources from what is now probably a sustainable resource--industry, commerce and other properties? …

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