A national Core Code of Ethics for Fire and Rescue Services in England has been developed in partnership with the National Fire Chiefs Council, Local Government Association, and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners to support a consistent approach to ethics, including behaviours, by fire and rescue services in England.
It will help to improve the organisational culture and workforce diversity of FRSs, ensuring that communities are supported in the best way.
The Core Code sits alongside the Code of Ethics Fire Standard developed by the Fire Standards Board. Both will be referred to by HMICFRS and should therefore be used by FRSs when preparing for inspections.
It is intended that an FRS will initially use the Core Code to undertake a gap analysis with their existing behavioural frameworks, values, and cultural approaches. This is to ensure that the principles within the Core Code are evident and incorporated within all existing as well as new associated documentation.
The Core Code sets out five ethical principles, based on the Seven Principles of Public Life, which alongside the accompanying guidance provides a basis for promoting good behaviour and challenging inappropriate behaviour.
- Putting our communities first – we put the interest of the public, the community and service users first.
- Integrity – we act with integrity including being open, honest and consistent in everything we do.
- Dignity and respect - making decisions objectively based on evidence, without discrimination or bias.
- Leadership – we are all positive role models, always demonstrating flexibility and resilient leadership. We are all accountable for everything we do and challenge all behaviour that falls short of the highest standards.
- Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) – We continually recognise and promote the value of EDI both within the FRSs and the wider communities in which we serve. We stand against all forms of discrimination, create equal opportunities, promote equality, foster good relations, and celebrate difference.
As a “Core” Code, it recognises there are differing governance arrangements and is flexible enough to be adopted by every service. It can be added to but not detracted from, thereby ensuring local values and expectations of behaviours can also be reflected. This approach will, for example, assist services that are part of a county council and obliged to also be mindful of the council’s code.
Everyone in every FRS in England is expected to follow the Core Code, including those working with or on behalf of FRSs. Governance will play an important role in championing the adoption of the Core Code and scrutinising delivery.
The Core Code is supported with the accompanying guidance document which demonstrates the actions that an FRS should ensure at an individual, management, and strategic level to aid interpretation, support implementation to embed the Core Code of Ethics effectively. The Core Code requires both an individual and a service commitment to the ethical principles in order to be effective.