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Risk terminology

Risk management has been the subject of previous studies within the context of Fire and Rescue Services and other emergency services (Konukcu and Bouchlaghem, 2010). In particular, the issue of estimating the probability of risk has received considerable attention. However, there is still no commonly accepted definition for the term risk - either in the sciences or in public understanding (Fischhoff et al., 1984). Organisational perception of risk and identification and classification of what constitutes risk also varies significantly, depending on priorities and perspective. 

In addition there are yet further varying levels of risk perception based on individual interpretations of the features of any given risk, which will be personally judged against the experiences and intrinsic values of the individual (Prosser 2005, DCLG, 2008a). In 2001, Her Majesty’s Treasury helpfully produced the report Management of Risk – A Strategic Overview (HMT 2001), that rapidly became known as the Orange Book. This publication set out a basic introduction to the concepts of risk management and it established the expectation that all public bodies should have in place effective means for identifying and responding to all risks that may prevent basic risk management processes in place (Johnson, 2004).

Within the context of Fire and Rescue Services, and this study in particular, it is therefore essential to have robust and carefully constructed guide as well as a consistent approach to support mechanisms in order to ensure that a similar approach to risk is undertaken across the country/research organisations. The current study is focused on the ‘community’ and the fire and rescue sector rather than the individual organisation and the origin of the concept of a community risk assessment emerges from the Fire and Rescue Act 2004 and the introduction of Integrated Risk Management Plans (IRMPs).