The first of April 2013 saw the biggest shake up in fire and rescue services in the UK since the Second World War. The transition from eight Scottish regional services into one was the culmination of more than a year of exceptionally hard work from fire and rescue service personnel across Scotland.
The transition heralded the move to a more collaborative approach where services work together to offer the best service to the public. This same approach was reflected recently at a conference held by the Federation of the European Union (FEU) Fire Officer Association in May where delegates from 22 countries across Europe shared ideas and best practice, whilst discussing the benefits of working collaboratively to improve safety.
In a recent Fire Times interview Alasdair Hay, the CFO for the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, commented: “It is our desire to build a Scottish Fire & Rescue Service that will deliver the benefits of reform to the people of Scotland. We will protect and strengthen frontline services and drive down risk by focussing on our prevention and protection services. A national service will also provide more equitable access to specialist services and national assets, ensuring we have the right resources and are able to respond with them wherever and whenever they are needed.”
Interestingly the FEU conference fell on the day that Sir Ken Knight published his recommendation for England to follow the Scottish example and merge its 46 separate fire and rescue authorities as a way of collaborating further.
One persistent topic of conversation, both during the Scottish merge and the FEU conference, was the importance of firefighter safety through personal protective equipment and turnout gear. The variations in topography across Europe are just as varied as the topography in Scotland. At the FEU conference representatives from DuPont, Hainsworth and Bristol Uniforms explained the technology, hard work and innovation that goes into keeping firefighters safe, no matter what the topography, through fibre development, fabric construction and garment design, prompting lively debate on how knowledge could be shared and firefighter safety improved.
At DuPont collaboration is absolutely key in promoting and improving firefighter safety. We collaborate and support safety innovation on a daily basis with people with this common goal through our Nomex® Partner Programme and welcome this move to a more collaborative approach, both across Scotland and across Europe.