Fire Authority

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority

The Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Authority (the Authority) is the independent body which ensures that the local fire and rescue service performs efficiently and in the best interests of the public and community it serves. This means that the fire and rescue service is answerable for its actions and performance to the general public. To contribute towards the costs of its services, the Authority collects funding from each local council via a precept. This is the portion of Council Tax allocated to this fire and rescue service.

The Authority has core functions which are set down in the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, these include Fire Safety advice, Collaboration with other agencies, developing and publishing emergency plans, compliance with statutory legislation, attending emergencies (including Road Traffic Collisions, extinguishing fires and protecting life).

The Authority is made up of councillors (“Members”) appointed to it by its three constituent authorities, namely:

Once appointed to the Authority, Members represent the community as a whole, not just the area they serve as a local councillor. They serve as a valuable link between communities and the fire and rescue service. Members are collectively responsible for setting the overall strategic direction of the organisation, including the setting of its budget, promoting its core values and ensuring that the fire and rescue service is effective, efficient and provides Value for Money.

The full Authority usually meets eight times a year and also has two committees: the Executive Committee and the Audit and Standards Committee. Apart from attending the Authority meetings, Members usually sit on one or other of the committees. Their numbers are proportional to the populations they represent, with five members from Central Bedfordshire Council, three members from Bedford Borough Council and four members from Luton Borough Council. They can also be asked to represent the Authority at a local and regional level.

On 9 September 2010 the then Bedfordshire and Luton Combined Fire Authority agreed to publish an annual Review of its Effectiveness together with a Record of Members’ Attendance. Review of Effectiveness and their associated Actions Plans are included in the Annual Governance Statement, which forms part of the Statement of Accounts. In 2019/20 Members decided that the annual review process was not required for that year and that the exercise would be completed again in 2020/21 as part of a wider Governance review including Member area leads. The Executive Member leads were appointed in September 2020 and a review will take place in spring/summer 2021.

The Combined Fire Authority (CFA) which was established on in 1 April 1997, now the Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA), had no committees (except the Standards Committee). The CFA then agreed and established from 29/07/2005 three Scrutiny Groups to provide its Members with an in-depth understanding of key issues to ensure they could challenge management activity and outcomes, and scrutinise and provide input into the Authority's strategic plans.

From 2010/11, the Combined Fire Authority (CFA) replaced its former three Scrutiny Groups - Performance Achievement, Community Risk Management and Human Resources - with three Policy and Challenge Groups.

From 1 July 2012, in accordance with the Localism Act 2011, this Committee was discontinued and the standards function included in the Audit Committee, which was renamed the Audit and Standards Committee.

Following a Governance Review, the Fire Authority resolved, at its July 2019 meeting, to suspend the three Policy and Challenge Groups. The Audit and Standards Committee remains along with two additional Fire Authority meetings being added to the Calendar of Meetings in September and November.

The Fire Authority reviewed these arrangements in September 2020 and will continue with the current structure. In addition, each member of the Executive Committee will have a special responsibility for the following portfolios:

1. Prevention and Protection including the Fire Safety Order, other fire safety legislation and the National Framework as appropriate.
2. Operational Performance and Preparedness including the Fire and Rescue Services Act, the Civil Contingencies Act and the National Framework as appropriate.
3. Corporate Risk, Health and Safety including the FRA’s responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act, Governance and the Combination Scheme Order.
4. People Board, Staffing, Diversity Champion including employment law, the equality duty and related legislation.
5. Collaboration including the FRA’s responsibilities within the Police and Crime Act 2017.