The State of Fire & Rescue report 2019 (Part 1, page 49) recommended that by December 2020, the National Fire Chiefs Council, with the Local Government Association, should produce a Code of Ethics for fire and rescue services, which should be adopted by every service in England.
In initial feedback to Her Majesty Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), both the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and the Local Government Association (LGA) indicated the potentially inadvertent difficulty in imposing a single prescriptive code, with no local flexibility, upon Fire & Rescue Authorities (FRAs) and Fire & Rescue Services (FRSs). There should be recognition that most services have an established ethical framework, and where these are well embedded, the culture has improved, compared with FRSs that had not embedded such frameworks.
Accordingly, work to respond to the recommendation has therefore focused on a Core Code of Ethics (Core Code), which reflects best practice principles and has been designed to underpin the way we serve our communities, carry out our role and work together. It is intended to become the common foundation across all services in England. However, to recognise the differing positions within FRSs currently as well as differing governance arrangements, it has been written as a Core Code. This means that whilst all the principles within the Core Code should be adopted and embedded within each FRS, it also has the flexibility to add to (but not detract from) those principles at local level. This will help local FRA/FRS to reflect their local values, behaviours, and governance arrangement.
Examples include where:
- an FRS is part of a county council and is likely to still have obligations placed upon it to evidence it also complies with the council’s code.
- an FRS has a well-developed local ethical framework and/or related policies, which should be reviewed against the Core Code.
- The consultation will run for four weeks, commencing Monday 5 October 2020 to Monday 2 November 2020. Consultation will be open to all interested parties, though within Services we will target CFO/CEs and HR Directors / Strategic Leads, and within FRAs we will target Chairs.
You will also wish you to be aware that the Fire Standards Board is now ready to consult on a related Fire Standard. The Core Code of Ethics Fire Standard and consultation can be accessed from the Fire Standards Board website