Chapter 6 – Mutual assistance etc.
Sections 33 and 34 – Reinforcement schemes and directions about reinforcement schemes
52.These sections re-enact the provisions of the 1947 Act on reinforcement schemes and extend them to apply to road traffic accidents and other serious emergencies (as set out by additional function order under section 11). Section 33 obliges relevant authorities to group together (so far as practicable) to provide mutual assistance. If there are cases where such authorities are unable to come to an agreement about forming such a group then, at the request of one of the authorities concerned, section 34 gives the Scottish Ministers the power to direct authorities involved to make, vary or revoke such a scheme.
53.Before giving a direction, the Scottish Ministers must give all authorities concerned the opportunity to make representations to them and may also instruct an inquiry.
Section 35 – Assistance other than from relevant authorities
54.This section will extend powers in the 1947 Act to allow fire authorities to enter into agreements with organisations including those that employ their own fire-fighters. For example, a relevant authority could arrange with an industrial company for their in‑house fire-fighters to provide assistance to the authority outwith the company premises if requested and required. In addition, assistance may be provided by a non fire-fighter if approved by the Chief Officer. For example, a Chief Officer may approve a forestry worker to assist fire-fighters engaged in extinguishing a heathland fire. The cost of this assistance could be reimbursed. These arrangements can also apply to any of the authority’s functions covered by sections 8 to 11, 13 and 61.
55.The arrangements under this section cannot be between two relevant authorities as this type of relationship would be covered by sections 33 and 34.
Sections 36 and 37 – Arrangements for carrying out of functions by others
56.Section 36 extends powers in the 1947 Act to provide relevant authorities with the ability to enter into contractual arrangements with others (including other relevant authorities) to provide services in the execution of their functions (covered by sections 8 to 11, 13 and 61). An example would be an agreement where a relevant authority contracts with a local authority to promote fire safety within its schools. Another example would be where a relevant authority specialises in rope rescue and a neighbouring relevant authority contracts with it to provide some, or all, of its response to incidents requiring rope rescue.
57.However, a relevant authority can only delegate its fire-fighting functions to another authority or others that employ fire-fighters.
58.Section 37 re-enacts provisions in the 1947 Act that provide the Scottish Ministers with the ability to require relevant authorities to enter into contractual arrangements under section 36 (or to vary or cancel any such arrangements). The Scottish Ministers can exercise the power on their own initiative, but the power must be exercised in the interests of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
59.Before issuing a direction, the Scottish Ministers must give the relevant authorities concerned the opportunity to make representations to them and they may hold an inquiry.