Chapter 2 – Principal fire and rescue functions
Section 8 – Fire safety
14.This provision places a statutory duty on relevant authorities to make provision for the purpose of promoting fire safety. At present, fire authorities undertake community fire safety initiatives. These take various forms, for example, schools education programmes, safety information advisory sessions for community groups and attendance at public events, fetes, etc. In some cases individual home fire safety advisory visits are undertaken and advice is given to homeowners on fire prevention issues. This work is currently carried out on a discretionary basis and the effect of section 8 is to make it a statutory duty.
Sections 9 and 10 – Fire-fighting and road traffic accidents
15.Section 9 re-enacts the existing statutory duty for a relevant authority to plan and make arrangements for fighting fires and protecting life and property from fires within its area. A relevant authority is required to secure sufficient equipment etc. and training to discharge its duty in normal circumstances. It must also put in place effective arrangements for receiving and responding to calls for help and for obtaining information to exercise its functions; the latter might include, for example, information about the nature and characteristics of buildings within the authority’s area or availability of, and access to, water supplies.
16.Section 10 places a duty on a relevant authority to make provision for rescuing persons from road traffic accidents and for dealing with the aftermath of such accidents. Historically, the risk of fire was the trigger for attendance at such an incident. Whilst advances in vehicle design have seen the incidence of fire following an accident decrease, calls to assist with the rescue of people from wreckage and protect them from harm caused by spillage of hazardous substances have increased dramatically. A relevant authority is required therefore to secure sufficient resources and training to discharge its duties in all normal circumstances. It must also put in place effective arrangements for receiving and responding to calls for help and for obtaining information to exercise its functions (for example, knowledge of local road and trunk road networks).
17.Under both sections 9 and 10 relevant authorities must seek to prevent or limit damage to property in exercising these statutory functions.
Section 11 – Conferral of functions in relation to other emergencies
18.This section allows the Scottish Ministers to confer on a relevant authority specified functions by order (an “additional function order”). This might relate to such matters as flooding, chemical spills and terrorist incidents.
19.The Scottish Ministers will also have the power, by additional function order, to direct relevant authorities as to how they should plan, equip for, and respond to such emergencies. This may include, for example, directions as to the deployments of mass decontamination equipment for civil resilience purposes. The intention is to ensure consistency of approach towards emergencies, particularly in response to terrorist incidents.
20.This section also allows the order to require an authority to respond to an emergency that has arisen outside its own area if, for example, it has more appropriate equipment and training than the authority in whose area the emergency has occurred.
21.The term “emergency” is defined for the purposes of Part 2 of this Act at section 52.