Local Authority Fire Service

In the United Kingdom the terms Local Authority Fire and Rescue Service, County Fire & Rescue Service or Public Fire and Rescue Service refer to a fire and rescue service provided and operated by a county or metropolitan council to serve the public in an emergency.

Examples of county / public or local authority fire and rescue services include the London Fire Brigade, West Midlands Fire Service and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service for instance.

In simple terms they are the fire service which respond to emergency 999 calls from members of the public.

Collectively each county / public / local authorty fire service is referred to as the United Kingdom Fire and Rescue Service. It is the primary land rescue agency in the UK.

In England and Wales by virtue of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 a County or Metropolitan council must provide a Fire and Rescue Service to serve the public in an emergency.

Whilst fire services are operated at local authority level national policy, procedures and performance is monitored and controlled by the Department of Communities and Local Government(DCLG)

tatutory Duties

A Local Authority / County / Public Fire and Rescue Service not only has statutory duties to respond to emergencies, but also has additional responsibilities to enforce fire safety legislation and to reduce the number of fires, and fire related deaths through education and pro-active safety campaigns.

Powers in an Emergency

Like any of the other three main emergency services (Police, Ambulance and HM Coastguard) LA / PS Fire Service personnel are given substantial powers of entry (and other legal power) to carry out their functions.

They are legally obliged to respond to any form of fire related emergency and any other emergency which presents a risk to life or property when called upon to do so.

They also have a responsibility to provide certain services in the event of terrorist attack.

Except in all but a few circumstances there is generally no occasion where a public fire service can not legally gain entry to premises or property to fight fire or protect life.

As such obstructing a firefighter or fire officer from carrying out their duties is a serious criminal offence.

Fire Authority

A county or metropolitan fire service is known as a Fire Authority (the Term Fire and Rescue Authority now become popular)

In simple terms a fire authority is a committee of council officials whom oversee the running of the fire service, to ensure that it serves the public properly.

Day to day command and control of the Fire Service is overseen by a Chief Fire Officer the highest ranking officer in the service.

Non Local Authority / Public Fire & Rescue Services

There are several non local authority / public Fire and Rescue Services in the UK. They are generally not directly controlled by either local or national government bodies.

* Airport Fire and Rescue Services (Controlled by individual Airports under Civil Aviation Authority Regulations)

* Industrial Fire Services - protect large factories or industrial complexes (controlled by Organisations to which they serve)

* Private Fire Cover Specialists - A number of outdoor concerts and events are covered by small private fire services who are contracted to provide cover at various events. Generally such services are provided by off duty public service firefighters.

Ministry of Defence Fire and Rescue Services

*Defence Fire and Rescue Service - Civilian Fire Service which Protects all Ministry of Defence Premises -

It is Controlled by the Ministry of Defence and is therefore a fire service controlled ultimately by the UK Government along with their Local Authority Fire Service counterparts.

The Defence Fire and Rescue Service is covered by the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 and therefore has the same powers of entry and enforcement as a Local Authority Fire Service.

*Royal Air Force Firefighting and Rescue Service - Also controlled by the MoD through the Royal AIr Force the RAFFRS cover mainly RAF sites with runways to provide specialst aircraft firefighting and rescue capability.

In most cases non LA or Public fire services will call upon the public fire service for assistance.

Primary Firefighting and Rescue Service in the UK

Each Local Authority / Public Fire Service collectively form the primary firefighting and rescue agency in the United Kingdom.

They are also the primary land rescue service by virtue of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004

More recently firefighters will now fight fires off shore in collaboration with HM Coastguard

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