Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Fire Services
The title and job role of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services in England, Scotland and Wales is combined with that known as Fire and Rescue Adviser (or Government Fire and Rescue Adviser) appointed by the devolved and national governments of the United Kingdom.
Despite holding both titles simultaneously the roles of "HM Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services", and that of "Fire and Rescue Adviser" differ slightly. There is currently an HMCI in England, Wales, and Scotland – all of whom are also fire and rescue advisers to their respective governments.
Both roles are categorical in law and cannot be overruled except by the sovereign.
In his or her political capacity as "Fire and Rescue Adviser" the post holder is responsible for advising their respective UK governments on all matters concerning the fire and rescue service in their jurisdiction.
As Her Majesty's Chief Inspector the post holder is responsible for auditing of all the local authority fire services in their jurisdiction to ensure they meet strict performance criteria and targets laid out by the government.
Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser
Her Majesty's current Chief Inspector for England is also the UK's Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser. He is the former Chief Fire Officer of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Peter Holland CBE.
The role of CFRA also includes additional responsibilities to HM Government. The CFRA is the most senior Fire and Rescue Service adviser to the United Kingdom Government, advising on policy, procedures, and legislative changes affecting the UK Fire Service. The devolved administrations consider and adopt UK policies and procedures where applicable.
Each Inspectorate (England Wales and Scotland) reports on the activities of the public fire and rescue services in the UK as well as the Defence Fire and Rescue Service (which operated by the Ministry of Defence) on a voluntary basis. Airport fire authorities are inspected by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The HMFSI's equivalent in Scotland is Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate for Scotland.
In February 2007, the UK government announced it was setting up a new unit to advise ministers on fire and rescue issues and creating the role of Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser (CFRA) confirming in May the same year that Sir Ken Knight had been appointed to the position. In October 2007, Sir Ken left the London Fire Brigade to start his new role. The announcement was made by the then fire minister Angela Smith. The purpose of the unit and its adviser is to "provide ministers and civil servants with independent professional advice on fire and rescue issues". The Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser also retains the historic title of HM Chief Inspector which was traditionally given to the head of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Fire Service. The new unit and its chief advisor will replace HMFSI, its function is to advise ministers, COBR and other government departments; and local government. The Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser or CFRA reports to the Department for Communities and Local Government. The new units remit only extends to England and Wales. The separate Inspectorate in Scotland Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate is under the leadership of its Chief Inspector, Steven Torrie.
The role of the CFRA
The DfCLG has outlined the general functions of the CFRA, and the new unit:
- Advise ministers and senior staff on structure, organisation and performance, including equality, of fire and rescue services
- It will identify and disseminate good practice to fire and rescue services
- Continue the successful drive to reduce fire deaths, which have been halved in England over the last quarter of a century
- It will also advise and liaise with government, local authorities, professional bodies and other interested organisations on fire, rescue and resilience matters
- Is the umbrella organisation of the Crown Premises Inspection Group (CPIG). CPIG is the team of Fire Inspectors, appointed by the Secretary of State, to enforce the Regulatory Reform (fire Safety) Order) 2005 within Crown Premises.
The detailed job description was made available to the public ahead of Sir Ken's appointment. It said the role of CFRA comes with a "substantial six figure package". The CFRA will have to set up the new unit, the last HM Chief inspector of Fire Services was Sir Graham Meldrum who retired in January 2007. The new post of CFRA has been created to reflect changes to the fire and rescue service in the UK brought about by the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, although it only applies to England and Wales. However, it is anticipated that the CFRA will advise the government on any major incident in the UK.
- Fire services in the United Kingdom
- Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate for Scotland
- Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004
- Women in firefighting
- Department for Communities and Local Government, News Release 022, New Advisory Unit for Fire and Rescue Services to be Set Up, 8 February 2007
- Communities and Local Government News Release 099, 24 May 2007, New Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser Appointed
- Dept for Communities and Local govt: News Release 174 - New Advisory Unit for the Fire & Rescue Service starts work, published 1 Oct 2007
- Dept for Communities and Local Government, Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate (HMFSI) (accessed 21 Feb 07)
- Dept for Communities and Local Government: Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser (accessed 21 Feb 07)