The Service was expected to focus on fighting fires, and the law constrained what they could do. Since then the role of the Fire Service has changed a great deal. As a result, under the new Act, Fire and rescue Authorities now have a range of statutory duties to:-
- Promote Fire Safety; and
- To prepare for:
- fighting fires and protecting people and property from fires;
- Rescuing people from Road Traffic Accidents; and
- Dealing with other specific emergencies, such as flooding or terrorist attack which are set out by Statutory Order and can be amended in line with how the role of the Service may change in the future. In addition, all Fire and Rescue authorities will be able to do other things to respond to the particular needs of their communities and the risks they face. The Act achieves this through:
- ensuring that fire and rescue authorities can do things that are not specifically set out in the act but which will help them meet their statutory duties;
- Giving authorities powers to prepare properly for other risks to life and the environment - for example they can buy equipment and train and deploy staff to undertake activities that they judge to pose a risk to life or the environment in their area; and allowing authorities, where they have capacity, to use staff and equipment they believe appropriate. This new framework of powers and duties will equip Fire and rescue authorities to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It puts prevention on an equal footing with intervention and enables individual Fire and Rescue authorities, for the first time, to decide in consultation with their communities how and where to deploy their resources. The Act therefore provides a stronger basis for Fire and Rescue authorities ability to respond to the range of risks set out in their Integrated Risk Management Plans The Act recognizes the wider role of the Service now plays and provides the flexibility to adapt to how the Service may change in the future.