Open Letter To all firefighters in England

Subject: Open Letter To all firefighters in England
From: Penny Mordaunt MP
Date: 16 Feb 2015
"Penny Mordaunt MP" by YellowFratello - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Note: Originally published by theDepartment for Communities and Local Government

Penny Mordaunt MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

Further to my letter of 9 January, I would like to update you on a number of issues which I
think will be of interest to you and the fire and rescue service generally.

Partnership Working

One of the recognised strengths of the fire and rescue service is the way it engages with its
partners and utilises data. A major development in this field has been that the Chief Fire
Officers Association has developed a National Older Persons Strategy, designed to put older
people at the heart of fire and rescue service activities and interventions. They did this in
partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions, Age UK, RNIB and Action for the
Blind. As part of this strategy, they have been pursuing a programme of work to ensure that
resources are directed where they are needed most. Recently they have been working
closely with NHS England to explore the feasibility of using GP data for people over 65 years
of age (known as Exeter Health data). If this work is successful, it will enable firefighters to
target some of the most vulnerable households. This is just one example of the innovative
activities going on with partners around the country which will directly impact upon your work.

Marauding Terrorists

The recent tragic events in Paris are a reminder of the fact that we need to have in place a
capability in the fire and rescue service to deal with incidents that are designed to cause
mass casualties – not least an attack by marauding terrorists with firearms. The fire and
rescue service has been given an important role in assisting the ambulance and police in
such an event. Unfortunately, the Fire Brigades Union still maintains its current ban on
training for a Marauding Terrorist Firearms Attack as part of the on-going industrial action. It
is for this reason that I have written to the General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union
asking that this aspect of the industrial action is called off as soon as possible, enabling the
training of the firefighters involved to resume.

Road Traffic Accidents

Dealing with road traffic accidents is a vitally important role for fire and rescue services.
There is now a multi-agency national Road Safety Executive established that enables a
broader approach to tackling road safety. Partners include police, fire, DoT and Road Safety
GB. The executive views road safety from improved engineered solutions through to
education programmes for the at risk males 17-24 years of age group. I have asked to be
kept up to date with this group, and will feed back to you on its progress. We are also liaising
closely with the police and the ambulance service, to see how services can co-operate more
closely, and a meeting will be fixed to discuss this shortly at departmental level.

Women in the Fire Service
I was very pleased to be invited to join the Executive Committee of the Women in the Fire
Service (WFS) last Monday at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in Eastbourne. This was
a useful opportunity to discuss issues affecting women employed across all sections of the
fire and rescue service. Our discussions focused on some of the tougher issues still affecting
female firefighters across the country, such as policies on maternity and flexible working, the
provision of work wear, and the decline in the use of effective positive action initiatives to
encourage minorities to join the service. WFS highlighted the need to share good practice
between services and I have promised to raise the profile of these issues with employers and
managers. I know WFS already play a very valuable role in providing and supporting, training
and development nationally. I am very pleased that they will be contributing to the work of the
Fitness Working Group ensuring that key issues around the continuing fitness of women in
the service are considered thoroughly.
UK Fire Service and Police Women’s Rugby Team
Finally, last Wednesday I watched the UK women’s fire and police combined teams take on
the Royal Navy women’s team at Imber Court. It was a fast moving game, played with
enormous spirit. The result was a 47-0 thrashing of the Royal Navy. I give my heartfelt
congratulations to fire and police team, and to all who organised and participated in this
excellent event.