The National Fire Chiefs Council was formed in April 2017. This followed the announcement of the Fire Reform programme, by the then Home Secretary Theresa May. Since fire and rescue moved back to the Home Office, there have been many changes and reforms. The Policing and Crime Act 2017 introduced new governance models into an already diverse governance environment for fire and rescue services, alongside a new Duty to Collaborate.
NFCC’s overarching vision is: “To be the professional [Fire and Rescue Service] leaders who are the ’go-to’ organisation for advice on professional and technical matters”.
NFCC delivers the unified professional voice of the UK fire and rescue service. As a collective, through the respective Chief Fire Officers of all UK fire and rescue services, NFCC manages national work programmes through eight Coordination Committees. This approach ensures a joined-up approach to achieving programme aims and drives improvement and development throughout the UK FRS.
NFCC also supports strong political leadership for government, including for the devolved administrations.
The establishment of NFCC followed a review of the leadership arrangements of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA). A decision was taken to follow similar principles of the National Police Chiefs Council and marked a progression from the role of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA).
A full-time Chair position was established to replace the 12-month term of the CFOA president. This change has enabled a concentrated approach delivering a more consistent approach and the establishment of stronger relationships with stakeholders and the wider sector, most significantly central government. This has been key and was has particularly demonstrated its worth following the Grenfell Tower fire in June last year, the subsequent independent review into building regulations as well as during significant national incidents.
NFCC’s Chair is a role appointed for an initial two-year term with the possibility of extension up to two further years. The current and first Chair to be appointed is Roy Wilsher, who was formerly Chief Fire Officer for Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The Chair of NFCC is the single point of contact for the Home Office, fire professionals and partners such as the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC). The Chair represents fire and rescue in a range of government and sector forums, and is the first line of advice to Ministers during major incidents. The NFCC Chair is supported by two Vice Chairs from within the wider NFCC who provide support and advice.
The aims of NFCC are to:
- Strengthen the professional/operational leadership of the Fire and Rescue Service
- Improve national coordination
- Reduce duplication; increase efficiency
- Support local service delivery
- Provide increased influence for Fire and Rescue Authorities and their Services
Operation of NFCC
The Council is the decision-making body of NFCC made up of all UK Chief Fire Officers. Through Coordination Committees, the Council leads on national work, including driving the pillars of Fire Reform. It provides clear professional leadership on operational and technical fire matters.
The full Council meets bi-monthly to make key decisions, receive feedback from the Committee Chairs and to hear from the wider fire sector. The Council is led by the NFCC Chair and every UK fire and rescue service is represented.
NFCC’s work is directed by an Annual Plan, underpinned by eight coordination Committees, which report progress to NFCC, delivering the plan and, in turn, helping to deliver fire reform.
The committees are:
- Protection and Business Safety
- Sector Improvement and Assurance
- Sector resource
To assist NFCC in the delivery of its aims and objectives, three support hubs were established. Their role is to provide the infrastructure and operation of the eight coordination committees and experts.
The hubs are established as follows:
- NFCC Support Hub. Hosted by West Midlands Fire Service, this hub supports the operations of the council and membership management. It also provides internal and external communications support, events, finance support and corporate support, all underpinned by a digital strategy.
- NFCC Central Programme Office (CPO). Hosted by London Fire Brigade, this hub provides the centralised programme-management function.
- National Resilience Hub. Hosted and provided by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, this hub provides the oversight and coordination of the national resilience programme.
The hubs play a critical role in ensuring NFCC’s membership, partners and stakeholders receive the information and assistance required to ensure the maintenance of relationships and communication necessary for NFCC to be the national voice of the UK Fire and Rescue Service.
NFCC recognises that to achieve its aims there is a need to build and maintain trust whilst enhancing its reputation and profile across the sector. The NFCC will support the fire profession through delivery of its strategy and annual plan, driving the fire-reform programme forward.
For more information, go to www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk