Last edited 20 Jul 2020

Fire authority

The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 requires that fire authorities or fire and rescue authorities (FRA - referred to as fire and civil defence authorities before 2004) make provisions within their area for:

  • Promoting fire safety.
  • Extinguishing fires.
  • Protecting life and property in the event of fires.
  • Rescuing people in the event of road traffic accidents.
  • Protecting people from serious harm in the event of road traffic accidents.
  • Performing functions requires by the Secretary of State in relation to emergencies.

In England a fire authority is:

In Wales:

  • A county council for the county.
  • A county borough council for the county borough.

A fire and rescue authority may make provisions for its roles through a fire and rescue service. The authority’s responsibility then is to oversee the service, to ensure it is properly trained and equipped and that it performs efficiently and in the best interest of the public and community it serves.

Other functions may include ensuring the fire and rescue service:

Fire authorities fall under the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). They are made up of elected councillors and are funded through local the local council via a precept, which is the portion of council tax allocated to fire and rescue services.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which came into force on 1 October 2006 increased the range of premises for which fire authorities have enforcement responsibility. It requires that fire risk assessments are carried out on all premises other than private homes and gives fire authorities responsibility for enforcement. However, the person in control of the premises is responsible for managing risks, and fire authorities no longer issue fire certificates.

Enforcement may include, providing advice, issuing notices or preventing all or part of a premises from being used.

NB When construction work is being carried out on an occupied building the fire authority is responsible for the enforcement of the 2006 Regulations in respect of fire. Where the building is unoccupied, the Health and Safety Executive is responsible for enforcement.

The Explanatory Notes to the Draft Building Safety Bill, published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government on 20 July 2020, states that: 'In England and Wales, a fire authority or fire and rescue authority is a statutory body, usually made up of a committee of local councillors which oversees the policy and service delivery of a fire and rescue services. There are some variations to this model in England, where the functions of four Fire and Rescue Authorities are delivered by the local Police and Crime Commissioner (in these areas the PCC is known as a Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner), the Mayor of Greater Manchester is responsible for FRA functions in that area, and there are separate provisions for London, which has a dedicated Fire Commissioner.'

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