Critical knowledge gaps in the Fire Safety Order: one of the fire sector's foremost experts on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005, Professor Rosemarie Everton, assesses the status of the Order. Whilst applauding the many sound principles within the framework, Professor Everton specifies critical knowledge gaps that need further consideration.(Risk Management)

I HAVE BEEN INVITED TO WRITE a short paper on what might loosely be called 'knowledge gaps'. The fire community, as any other complex body, teems with such gaps. It has a continuing need, on the one hand, to progress its body of learning, and, on the other, to prevent unsustainable loss.

Confining oneself just to the Fire and Rescue Service itself, one might illustrate the former (ie the need to advance) with reference, say, to the need to develop ways of improving the reduction of fire and fire associated C[O.sup.2] emissions; and one might illustrate the latter (ie the need to avoid wastage) by reference, say, to the need to develop ways of stemming the drain of experience when members leave the Service. (1)

Such instances carry obvious consequences and currently enjoy a high profile. (2) In this paper, however, I would like to raise certain gaps which lurk more in shadow, but can bear consequences rendering them worthy of consideration. They relate to the Order.

Knowledge Gaps' and the Order

The first gap, I would suggest, concerns the extent of knowledge of the fact of its presence--not simply of its content, but of the fact of its very being. Despite the considerable efforts made to inform those involved of its presence, its existence appears not yet completely to have reached the ears of the smaller business.

The second gap I would identify as a lack of appreciation of its implications. (3) I think, though, that this is a gap which necessarily results from a third and underlying gap which will take me a few moments to explore:-

To appreciate the Order's implications, there is a need to understand its provisions. …

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