Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 Explanatory Notes

Part 5: Water Supply

Section 38: Duty to secure water supply etc.

65.Subsection (1) re-enacts section 13 of the Fire Services Act 1947, requiring fire and rescue authorities to take all reasonable measures to ensure the adequate supply of water for use in the event of fire.

66.Subsection (2) allows an authority to use any suitable supply of water, whether provided by a water undertaker or any other person. Whilst it provides for payment of reasonable compensation for the water, this is limited by reference to section 147 of the Water Industry Act 1991, which expressly forbids charging by a water undertaker in respect of: water taken for the purpose of extinguishing fires or for any other emergency purposes; water taken for testing apparatus used for extinguishing fires; or for fire-fighting training. This subsection re-enacts section 15(1) of the 1947 Act.

Section 39: Supply of water by water undertakers

67.This section re-enacts section 14(1) and (4) of the Fire Services Act 1947 Act and allows a fire and rescue authority to enter into an agreement with a water undertaker for the supply of water (as covered by section 37). Subsection (2) allows for any agreement to include terms for payment, other than for the purposes covered by section 147 of the Water Industry Act 1991.

68.Subsection (4) makes any obligation of a water undertaker, under an agreement, enforceable by the Secretary of State under section 18 of the Water Industry Act 1991. This gives the Secretary of State power to make an enforcement order to secure compliance with any statutory or other requirement.

Section 40: Emergency supply by water undertaker

69.This section re-enacts sections 30(4) and 30(4)(a) of the Fire Services Act 1947. Subsection (1) places an obligation on a water undertaker to take all necessary steps to increase supply and pressure of water for the purpose of extinguishing a fire, if requested to do so by a fire and rescue authority. Subsection (2) allows a water undertaker to shut off water from the mains and pipes in any area to enable it to comply with a request to increase supply and water pressure. Subsection (3) safeguards the fire and rescue authority or any person from any liability for anything done by a water undertaker in complying with its obligations. Subsections (4) and (5) make it an offence for a water undertaker, without reasonable excuse, to fail to take any steps which it is obliged to take and provides for a level 5 fine (currently £5,000) on summary conviction.

Section 41: Supply by other persons

70.This section re-enacts section 15(1) of the Fire Services Act 1947 and allows a fire and rescue authority to enter into agreements with persons other than water undertakers in order to secure the use of water; to improve access to water; or to lay and maintain pipes and to carry out other works in connection with the use of water.

Section 42: Fire hydrants

71.Access to the water supply is by connection to a fire hydrant. Hydrants may be fitted by a water undertaker at the request of a fire and rescue authority. Section 41(1) requires a water undertaker to mark the location of every fire hydrant with a notice or distinguishing mark and under subsection (3) the costs of doing this can be charged to the fire and rescue authority in whose area the hydrant is situated. This re-enacts provisions in section 14(3) of the Fire Services Act 1947.

72.Subsection (4) enables the Secretary of State to make regulations providing for uniformity in fire hydrants and the distinguishing notices and marks indicating their location. This re-enacts section 14(6) of the 1947 Act.

73.Subsection (5) makes any obligation of a water undertaker under subsection (1) and (4) enforceable by the Secretary of State under section 18 of the Water Industry Act 1991, which gives the Secretary of State power to make an enforcement order to secure compliance with any statutory or other requirement. This re-enacts section 14(4) of the 1947 Act.

74.Subsection (6) makes it an offence for any person to use a fire hydrant other than for the purpose of fire-fighting or any other purpose of a fire and rescue authority; or other than for any purpose authorised by the water undertaker or other person to whom the hydrant belongs.

75.Subsection (7) makes it an offence to damage or obstruct a fire hydrant. Under subsection (8) a person guilty of an offence under subsection (6) and (7) is liable on summary conviction to a level 2 fine. Subsections (6), (7) and (8) re-enact section 14(5) of the 1947 Act.

Section 43: Notice of works affecting water supply and fire hydrants

76.This section re-enacts section 16(1) to (3) of the Fire Services Act 1947 and requires any person who proposes to carry out any works for the purpose of supplying water to any part of the area of a fire and rescue authority to give at least six weeks' written notice to the authority. A person proposing to carry out any works affecting a fire hydrant is required to give at least seven days' notice in writing.

77.Under subsection (3), if it is not practicable for written notice to be given, the person is regarded as having given such notice if he gives it as soon as practicable. It is an offence under subsection (4) if, without reasonable excuse, a person fails to give notice as required. Under subsection (5) a person is liable on summary conviction to a level 5 fine.

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