Is size really important?(Fire Service Structure)

Unlike Halley's comet, local government reorganisation never seems to be forgotten for more than a couple of years. Just when you think delivery of service is at last starting to emerge as the highest priority for fire and rescue services, along comes another review. With everything else that is going on in Planet Fire will reorganisation of fire and rescue services add to the overall wellbeing of British society, or is it just another few centimetres on the tsunami of modernisation?

THE POST 1974 FIRE BRIGADE structures have been left alone for the past 30 years or so. With the notable and imminent exception of the Somerset and Devon merger there has been little movement in the size of FRSs.

While governance structures have changed with the creation of both single tier and unitary authorities, the fire and rescue services themselves have not. The protracted, overly consultative and generally disliked Banham review of local government in the mid 1990s separated many fire and rescue services from their constituent councils and created the combined fire authority structures, leaving only a dozen or so county council, fire and rescue services.

Difference and Variation

With the Department of Communities and Local Government now having embarked on yet another phase of local government review and possible reorganisation, speculation is rife particularly about the optimum size of fire and rescue services. The key driver behind the department's review is the changing demands of the community predicted to evolve over the next ten years to 2015.

A trends analysis carried out for the department (the department formally known as ODPM) identified that two key distinguishing features of the society of 2015 will be difference and variation between both individuals and social groupings--that is differences and variations that divide the haves and the will haves from the have nots and will have nots. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.