Fire and Rescue Services, civil contingencies and resilience (UK)

The UK Fire and Rescue Service’s response is covered by legislation, guidance and national frameworks, and includes important information relevant to the protection of cultural heritage and the salvage of contents.

The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 there is a requirement for Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRA) to, ‘…make arrangements for ensuring that reasonable steps are taken to prevent or limit damage to property resulting from action taken’ when extinguishing fire and protecting life and property in the event of fires.42 They are also required to give advice, when requested, on how to prevent fires and restrict their spread in buildings and other property.43 There is a requirement for the FRA to assess Fire Safety Risk Assessments through the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) the protection of cultural heritage and the salvage of contents. Order 2005.44 Safeguarding cultural heritage is an element in the Integrated 305 Risk Management Plan (IRMP) which each FRA produces, as a requirement of the National Framework 2008–2011.
(Taken Preparing for the future: mitigating disasters and building resilience in the cultural heritage sector by Fiona McAllister, 2015, Journal of the Institute of Conservation 38(2), 115-129)

The IRMP Steering Group Integrated Risk Management: Policy Guidance Protection of Heritage Buildings and Structures for authorities in England provides guidance for FRAs. It requires them to consider whether buildings are listed and the significance of the collections when carrying out risk assessments for heritage sites: they must take account of the nature of the property.

The Civil Contingencies Act (2004) divides local responders into 2 categories, imposing a different set of duties on each. Those in Category 1 are organisations at the core of the response to most emergencies (the emergency services, local authorities, NHS bodies). Category 2 organisations (the Health and Safety Executive, transport and utility companies) are ‘co-operating bodies’. They are less likely to be involved in the heart of planning work, but will be heavily involved in incidents that affect their own sector. Category 2 responders have a lesser set of duties – co-operating and sharing relevant information with other Category 1 and 2 responders. It established local resilience forums and a resilience network which the heritage sector can seek aid from and contribute to.

In Scotland the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (Contingency Planning) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 is supported by the document Preparing Scotland Scottish Guidance on Resilience 2012.

Through the Resilience Network Community, risk registers are produced, which include information that can be relevant to heritage organisations when identifying potential hazards to their buildings and collections. A common framework has been used across the UK. The role of individuals, communities and practitioners in resilience is stated in the Cabinet Office’s Strategic National Framework on Community Resilience.

 

Additional information on this legislation and how relates to cultural heritage can be found in the article Preparing for the future: mitigating disasters and building resilience in the cultural heritage sector by Fiona McAllister, 2015, Journal of the Institute of Conservation 38(2), 115-129. If you are unable to access the article, please contact us.