- Fire authority
In the United Kingdom a fire authority or fire and rescue authority is a statutory body made up of a committee of local councillors which oversees the policy and service delivery of a fire and rescue service. [ [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2004/40021--b.htm#1 Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, Part One (accessed 19 Feb 07)] ] [ [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/acts2005/20050005.htm Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, Crown Copyright 2005, (accessed 19 Feb 07)] ] [ [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2006/06em1254.htm Explanatory Memorandum to Fire And Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 (accessed 19 Feb 07)] ] A fire authority is made up of either councillors, officers or representatives from the local principal councils in the geographical area that the fire service operates. In the case of the
London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, there is an additional layer of governance above in the form of the London Assembly.
The mix of statutory bodies involved in fire and rescue service structure, planning and provision is complicated with the advent of devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but the central government body in England and Wales is the
Department for Communities and Local Government.
Role of a fire authority
In simple terms a local fire authority is a body which ensures that the local fire service is doing its job properly by serving the community as it should. It means that the fire service is answerable for its actions and performance to the general public. One of its main functions is to collect funding from each local council via a "precept" - a portion of council tax allocated to the FRS.
Although a fire safety officer is an employee of the fire service and is authorised and answerable to the
Chief Fire Officerto exercise powers of inspection, any enforcement or prosecution action taken against organisations by the fire service is brought in the name of the fire authority, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This statutory instrumentapplies to England and Wales, similar legislation exists for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The Fire Service's powers of entry and other operational roles are defined by the
Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004[ [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2004/20040021.htm Fire & Rescue Services Act 2004, Pub: The Stationery Office, Crown copyright (accessed 15 Jan 07)] ] This act provides the legal basis for fire authoritites to carry out community rather than legislative fire safety functions in England and Wales, again, similar legislation applies to Scotlandand Northern Ireland.
There are many specific acts of parliament which deal with fire safety, inspection and enforcement; in October 2006 (later than anticipated), many outdated acts were repealed, and placed under the umbrella of the
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005[ [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2005/20051541.htm Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 1541, The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, Pub: The Stationery Office, Crown copyright (accessed 15 Feb 07)] ] Similar legislation applies to Scotland and Northern Ireland:
* "Comprehensive list of recent UK fire and rescue service legislation:" [http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/SearchResults.aspx?TYPE=QS&Title=Fire&Year=&Number=&LegType=All+Legislation]
*More detailed information on fire authority funding
Fire service in the United Kingdom
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