As the authority of the fire brigade is giving considerations on forming alliances with the international search and rescue team of the United Kingdom, additional information is required before a commitment is fully made. For that reason, this paper is aimed at analyzing how this union will affect the service legally and ethically as well as globally.
Therefore, in covering this issue the paper is going to focus on several subject matters. First and foremost, it is going to assess the law in England and Wales and how it operates internationally as it applies to the fire service. Secondly, the paper is going to analyze the role of globalization and how it affects the legislative and substantive work of those in the fire and rescue service.
Thereafter, we will identify how ethical considerations are dealt with in the fire and rescue and services and finally, there will be a summary of what role the practitioners play in the changing world environment.
Fire outbreaks are disasters and normally occur from time to time due to careless human behavior, unsafe electrical conditions such as overloaded sockets or as a result of natural disasters such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. Prevention of such fire outbreaks is very crucial and is a responsibility should not be neglected. However, at the same time precaution in the case of an emergency is just as important.
It is the need for these precautionary measures that has led to the formation of fire departments and brigades in all the countries of the world. Therefore, a fire brigade is defined as an organization that provides fire protection for the citizens in certain jurisdiction.
These organizations can either be government-owned or privately-owned. Normally, a fire brigade or department is able to host several fire stations under its wing but only within its boundaries, which is are controlled by the government body that manages the fire and rescue department.
The fire department usually launches various branches in the different municipals, counties, states or provinces and the organization of each specific branch is then setup. The distribution and placement of the fire stations within the areas of control is dealt with at the branch level, as well as distribution of the personnel and the firefighting equipment.
However, the fire departments also survey the jurisdictions and how the coverage is being handled by the fire stations so as to make sure that the services being offered to the communities are done so equitably.
In addition, fire departments are usually organized in four systems which are administration, services, training and operations. However, the service system is the one that normally deals with protecting, safety and education to the public.
Furthermore, all fire departments have a form of code that is usually taken up by the state or by the jurisdiction and is implemented by the fire prevention officers who are within the branches of the fire department.
This code is referred to as a fire safety code or a fire prevention code and is comprised of a set of rules which stipulate the prerequisites that are mainly intended at preventing fire outbreaks as well as making sure that well trained professionals and adequate equipment are available in case of a fire.
Haslam, (np) notes “Sections may establish the requirements for obtaining permits and specific precautions required to remain in compliance with a permit. For example, a fireworks exhibition may require an application to be filed by a licensed pyro-technician, providing the information necessary for the issuing authority to determine whether safety requirements can be met.”
Although UNEP has tried its best to reduce the environmental threats generated by environmental causes to human beings as well as the consequences of conflicts and disasters, some of these calamities are inevitable due to a steady increase in global population hence human activities and changes in climate patterns.
These disasters and conflicts usually end up sourcing a lot of negative effects on the natural and human environment. Most often than not, they destroy infrastructure, cause displacements of populations and undermine human security as they increase the levels of poverty and dismantle the structures of sustainable development.
In response to a growing demand for services that address these crises, UNEP has come up with a faction of ‘disasters and conflict’ to be one of major global priorities. The services that are provided to member states by the program are post-crisis environmental assessments, post-crisis environmental recovery, environmental co-operation for peace building and reduction of disaster risks (Trotman, 65).
To complement the services provided by UNEP, international search and rescue teams also supply supportive measures by providing their services particularly during the initial stages of disaster management when saving lives and salvaging property is the chief objective. The teams are comprised of well trained professionals who are supplied with state-of-the-art equipment.
One of the natural disasters that UK’s international search and rescue team offered its services is during the Haiti earthquake in January, 2010 where an estimated number of 100,000 are thought to have died. In an effort to help the victims of Haiti’s earthquake, the international community sent out help to the country with the UK sending out an assessment team to the disaster area.
With the levels of casualties and injuries being high, there was a critical need to find and save the survivors and therefore a great need for search and rescue teams as well as humanitarian requirements on the ground.
As aid continued arriving into Haiti, firefighters from all over Britain were mobilized and sent out to help in saving the lives of citizens from the disaster areas.
In fact, the first of the UK’s search and rescue team which was made up of 64 firefighters from Gatwick was already searching for survivors in the collapsed streets of Port-au-Prince within 48 hours after the Haiti earthquake (Smith 103).
They were then followed by other firefighters, from across the UK’s fire and rescue service that had been grouped into six operating teams. They were equipped with technologically advanced equipments as well as two dogs that are specially trained to deal with such disasters. The dogs, Holly and Echo had been trained by doing a mock-up of a collapsed village and this had adequately prepared them to rescue survivors, which they did for eleven days.
The UK rescue team was able to pull out several survivors from the rubble; among the rescued was Mia, a two year old girl. This survivor was rescued by the Greater Manchester and Mid-Wales brigades who exhibited their expertise in international rescue services.
Due to their first success the team leader, Andy noted “finding Mia alive was unbelievable moment for us (UK team) on the first day in the streets.” However Andy was quick to note that “Part of our training was done on a mock-up of a collapsed village but that scale of that disaster could not be compared to the mock –up training”.
Nevertheless, the UK disaster and rescue services were able to carry out a successful rescue and recovery operation despite the hurdles they faced due to the scale of damage all over the country, due to this Andy noted that “it was a massive honor to be part of the UK team in Haiti.”
However this operation was carried out following certain rules and regulations that were set out by the UK fire and rescue Act 2004. This Act provides for guidelines on four core issues on which the UK fire department is charged with in their mandate. They include; fire safety, fire-fighting, road traffic accidents and emergencies.
Though the Haiti earthquake disaster was an international one and did not fall within UKs jurisdiction, still this Act was put into action in the Haiti rescue operation by the UK team. Therefore this apart from serving the local jurisdiction it is also operational in international jurisdictions.
The team in particular focused on Fire safety, Emergencies and other provisions as provided by the 2004 Act. Under the Fire safety provision of the Act, the UK team was supposed to provide information, and encourage the locals and administration to take steps in preventing fires or injury as a result of fire, which was likely due to gas pipes leaks and other flammables that were exposed after the earth quake, in order to do this, the team was supposed to give advice when requested by the locals or Haitian authorities on how to prevent fires from erupting in risky places for example the gas stations and other destroyed factories and in addition provide advice on how the people should escape in case a fire erupted in their buildings or in their make shift camps after the disaster struck.
Nevertheless, the most applicable clause was the one under Emergencies. Under this clause, the secretary of State has the power to authorize the fire and rescue authority on what constitutes an emergency and by order, authorizes them to act on the situation, which is what happened in the Haiti case.
The secretary noted that “We need to get search and rescue teams on the ground. Every hour matters. There will be humanitarian requirements for food, shelter and sanitation. It is critical to co-ordinate the international effort,” he further added “This is a terrible tragedy and we are determined to do what we can to help. We have 64 British fire-fighters going out from Gatwick.”
In doing so the UK government was acting under the power given to it by the 2004 Act, which enabled the secretary to confer other function to the fire and rescue authority other than those which were defined in the Act. Therefore after the order has been given by the secretary, the authority is supposed, under the provisions of the clause, coordinate personnel, services and equipment to be used in the international mission.
Since it was an international mission it was important to ensure that the operation was well coordinated between the various international rescues services that were heading out to Haiti.
Therefore, to avoid a situation where all the rescue teams turned up with the same services and equipments, the UK fire and rescue team under the directions of the Secretary, made up a rescue plan whereby they got in touch with other countries, for instance the USA to make sure that they specialized in other different area of the operation as noted by Secretary Alexander “we have to work with others to make sure everyone does not turn up with the same equipment.”.
Section 3(b) of the Act provides for training of fire and rescue personnel in dealing with a wide variety of disasters which as noted above, the UK team had undergone some mock-up training in a collapsed village which enabled them deal with the earthquake disaster which had similar circumstances.
In addition under, section, 3 (c), (d) and (e) the authority was required to carry out their operations with due diligence to ensure their objectives were carried out successful and professionally while at the same time, ensuring that no or minimum damage is done onto property as they carry out their operations.
But more importantly in the Haiti operation, section (c) and (d) was very applicable as it called for the team to be competent in answering distress calls to those trapped in the rubble and to the general public, avail information on the happenings and the situation on the ground as it was.
Therefore as depicted, the UK team followed this Act accordingly as shown in the way the answered to distress calls from the people trapped underground resulting in saving a lot of lives. In addition, whenever a survivor was rescued or bodies discovered the team coordinated the information using the relevant channels.
For instance when the little girl was rescued in the early hours of the teams arrival in Haiti, the team leader gave out the information to the public which was very encouraging to the rescue team and the public, nevertheless the team leader did not fall short in asking the public to remembering the 500 or so people who perished in the building.
Therefore the team leader was informing the public on their achievements while providing the authorities with figures of victims who perished.
In addition apart from the powers vested in the secretary to declare a particular situation an emergency, the fire and rescue authority is mandate to take any action it considers necessary in a particular situation.
As indicated it is no doubt that the 2004 Act is applicable in international missions since the Act allows for the fire and rescue authority under the mandate of the Secretary of state to act outside UKs’ jurisdiction. The Emergencies clause has indicated how this mandate is to be carried out.
However the Act also acknowledges the different dynamics and complexities in rescue missions internationally as indicated by the UK rescue team leader who noted that although they had undergone mock-up training of similar circumstances, the situation on the ground in Haiti was very much complex than anticipated though they were able to successfully carry out the mission.
Therefore in recognition of this, the Act has provided for a clause that empowers the fire and rescue Authority to respond to other eventualities. Therefore while in Haiti the team was empowered to respond appropriately to circumstances that called for their immediate action.
This is indicated under the “power to respond to other eventualities” section 1 and 2 while section 3 empowers the authority to proved for necessary equipments while section 4 confers them with the power to act outside a given authority’s area, in this case internationally.
However, as the world becomes globalized there has been a lot of changes in how countries inter rely on one another in different situations. These inter-country relations have changed the way some issues are carried, for instance economically, technologically and in humanitarian services.
Hence, globalization has influenced how legislative laws are drafted. In this situation legislative laws governing the fire and rescue Authority are drafted while taking into consideration the global village.
For instance, the 2004 Act takes into consideration the different economies around the world whereby one country may not be in a position to have enough or capable equipments to carry out rescue and fire services, hence countries have drafted laws that allows their fire and rescue services be able to provide countries in need with this vital equipments and also for them be able to carry and use them during their operations abroad (Haslam 187).
In addition, the Fire and Rescue Authority legislations have allowed them to undertake humanitarian activities around the world whenever need arises, hence apart from taking part in rescue and recovery operations, if the situation calls for humanitarian services for instance delivery of safe water, food or medicine, the Authority has the mandate to act as indicated under the “power to respond to other eventualities” clause section 1 and 2.
Also the Fire and Rescue Authority is empowered to provide and use technologically-assisted rescue methods in their operations even though the country lacks the technology.
Thus, they can transfer technology used in their home countries and used in other countries. Thus in response to this and globalization, countries around the world have drafted legislations that allow for fast, efficient and profession rescue services by their respective governments (The source for critical information and insight np.
Practitioners of these valuable services are required to carry out their work with outmost diligence, respect and ethics as required by his/her professionalism. Therefore in instances where a practitioner fails to uphold ethics, the Authority has measures in place that serve to discipline the practitioner.
Haslam, Carl. Fire Service. UK Fire Service Resources Group. 2009. Web. 18th Sept 2010.
Smith, David. Jamaica. Information on disaster risk management case study of five: Jamaica. Mexico City: United Nations and IDB, 2007.
The source for critical information and insight. Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004. Health & Safety News Brief Occupational Health & Safety Information Service (OHSIS) November 2004. 2004. Web. 18th Sept, 2010.
Trotman, John . Fire Service. Richmond, Surrey TW Crimson Publishing, 2001. Print.