Chapter 3 – Ancillary functions
Section 12 – Emergency directions
22.Section 12 gives the Scottish Ministers power to direct relevant authorities to respond to a particular fire or emergency incident, either in its own area or in that of another authority. The Scottish Ministers will also be able to direct an authority not to take any action in the event of such an emergency if, for example, another authority is better equipped to do so.
Section 13 – Power to respond to other eventualities
23.This section provides relevant authorities with discretion to equip, and respond to, events beyond its core functions provided for at sections 8 to 11 and 61. Such an authority will be free to act where it believes there is a risk to life or the environment. This would allow, for example, specialist activities such as rope rescue.
Section 14 – Provision of other services
24.Section 14 provides a relevant authority with the power to agree to the use of its equipment or personnel for any purpose it believes appropriate wherever it so chooses. For example, an authority may agree to help pump a local pond as a service to its community.
Section 15 – Provision of centres for education and training
25.This section re-enacts provisions in the 1947 Act that allow a relevant authority to establish training centres in respect of any function conferred under these provisions.
Section 16 – Charging
26.Section 16 allows the Scottish Ministers to authorise relevant authorities to charge for services and to specify in an order the persons who may be subject to the charge. At present fire authorities have discretionary powers to charge for exercising certain functions. However, relevant authorities will not be able to charge for action taken in respect of extinguishing fires, protecting property in the event of fires or protecting life, except in relation to fighting fires at sea (which, for authorities with a seaward boundary, means beyond the low water mark). In such circumstances, the relevant authority has no statutory fire-fighting duty under section 9 because the incident is outwith their area.
27.Subsection (4) maintains the existing arrangement that allows fire authorities to set their own level of charge, and to vary the charge depending on the type of service provided and the circumstances of a particular incident, or to choose not to charge at all.
28.Subsection (5) sets out that in setting the amount of any charge a relevant authority shall secure that the income from charging does not exceed the cost to the relevant authority for providing the service for which charges are levied when looked at over any particular financial year.