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Fire and rescue service responsibilities

A fire and rescue authority’s responsibilities are set out in relevant legislation. Some of these responsibilities are classified as core functions in accordance with specific fire and rescue service legislation (including those of the devolved administrations). These core functions require each authority to make provision for extinguishing fires, carrying out rescues and attending other emergencies, including providing personnel, equipment and training.

Additional responsibilities are implicit and should be considered in conjunction with requirements set out in other legislation, specifically the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Confined Space Regulations 1997.

The Health and Safety at Work Act requires employers to provide the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of its employees. The Act also places a duty on employers to conduct undertakings in such a way as to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, people not employed by them who may be affected are not exposed to risk. (Note: in this context, a risk has to be created or made worse by the service.)

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations place a duty on the employer to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees and to record the significant findings of this assessment.

The Confined Space Regulations specifies the meaning of risk associated with confined spaces and states that “…no person at work shall enter a confined space to carry out work for any purpose unless it is not reasonably practicable to achieve that purpose without such entry”.

The Health and Safety Executive sets out how it applies health and safety legislation to the fire and rescue service in Striking the balance between operational and health and safety duties in the Fire and Rescue Service

Fire and rescue services must train and assess all relevant operational personnel so they are able to carry out the roles and responsibilities set out in this foundation document. Personnel must understand these responsibilities, be given sufficient time and facilities to practise their skills so they are suitably equipped with the operational knowledge needed to resolve the full range of reasonably foreseeable incidents and to adapt to those that are not.