The Fire Brigades Union is highlighting management failure in risk planning to explain why it took a whole weekend to put out a scrapyard fire next to the M1. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary said: “I congratulate firefighters for their hard work in tackling the fire. But like them, I want to know why management failed to get a grip on the situation more quickly.
“For a number of years, the FBU has been calling for investment in fire and rescue services, to enable ‘whole risk’ information gathering and proper risk management planning. Instead, fire and rescue services have been cut and cut.
“Over the weekend, what we have seen on the M1 in London is exactly what the FBU has been predicting, and what everyone else in the fire and rescue service has been ignoring.”
The London Fire Brigade like all fire and rescue services produces an integrated risk management plan (IRMP), to decide how to tackle the risks in their area.
The union has said that the term ‘risk’ has to be very wide and should include ‘national risks’. We describe national risks as those that have a low impact locally, but high impact nationally. For example a fire next to a mainline railway that necessitates closure of the line may have little impact on the community adjacent to the fire, but could cost the UK as a whole millions of pounds.
Wrack added: “The FBU’s IRMP guidance says that when drawing up their plans, fire and rescue services should assess the whole impact of a fire. For example, a fire in a warehouse is unlikely to result in injury or death, but products of combustion cause pollution and affect roads and railways, the resulting property damage will have an economic impact on the local business community.
“The time taken to deal with the M1 fire shows what happens when fire service management make cuts instead of assessing the risks properly.”