The Civil Contingencies Act (CCA) places a duty on fire and rescue services as Category 1 responders to prepare for and respond to major incidents. The Northern Ireland Civil Contingencies Framework aligns the fire and rescue service to the same duties within the CCA, although it is not designated as a Category 1 responder.
The act divides local responders into two categories depending on the extent of their involvement in civil protection work and places a proportionate set of duties on each.
Category 1 responders are those organisations at the core of emergency response. They are subject to the full set of civil protection duties and are required to:
Assess the risk of emergencies occurring and use this to inform contingency planning
- Put emergency plans in place
- Put business continuity management arrangements in place
- Put arrangements in place to make information available to the public about civil protection matters and maintain arrangements to warn, inform and advise the public in the event of an emergency
- Share information with other local responders to enhance co-ordination
- Co-operate with other local responders to enhance co-ordination and efficiency
- Provide advice and assistance to businesses and voluntary organisations about business continuity management (local authorities only)
Category 2 organisations are co-operating bodies that, while less likely to be involved in the heart of planning work, will be heavily involved in incidents that affect their sector.
The voluntary sector is not a category 1 or 2 responder but may support a major incident. There are emergency responder guides for the public sector across the governments and devolved administrations (e.g. Emergency Preparedness Chapter 14 The Role of the Voluntary Sector and Ready Scotland – Voluntary Response guide). They explain their role and what fire and rescue services should do to include them in their emergency response.