Fire Rescue Service operations have been intensified worldwide as a result of the uncontrolled onset of disasters. They have endeavored to provide much-needed emergency responses in time and resourcefully. Fire Rescue Teams work towards providing fire protection to citizens at the local and international levels. They are either public or private institutions. A fire brigade team is made up of different compositions such as the firefighters, volunteers or both. Hence, Fire Rescue Teams and brigades work to complement each other in achieving a similar purpose of creating or constraining global emergencies.
This briefing paper is divided into four parts. Using Haiti as a model, the paper explores how Fire Brigades are important in supporting International Rescue Services, the paper goes on and recommends how Fire Brigades can boost their International services in handling international emergencies. The second part of the briefing paper examines how laws in England and Wales are embraced in the fire service and globally; and how these laws can contribute to the effective delivery of fire rescue services in emergency cases.
Additionally, the third part of the paper explores globalization in detail. It points out the importance of globalization and explores how legislation has altered the working conditions of fire rescue services. It also draws the role of a practitioner in the context of globalization. Ethics are critical for any kind of business, it helps an organization to build its public image and create customers’ trust. The last part of the briefing paper shows how ethics play an important role in fire and rescue services.
The Haiti earthquake is regarded as one of the worst disasters to have occurred on earth. It is estimated that about fifty thousand people are believed to have died, three million were affected by the earthquake, several health centers collapsed in Port Au Prince, the airport was damaged making it inaccessible and security was a major concern. However, despite the many challenges the country faced, the United Kingdom Fire Rescue teams responded with speed to contain the disaster.
The UK Fire Rescue Services and Mitigation Response
Fire brigade encompasses different approaches in achieving Rescue operations. Brown and Larkin (2005) explain Fire brigades’ roles are complex and changing because of the nature and types of emergencies. They categorize major disasters as natural disasters, fires, medical emergencies, roadside accidents among others. They respond to these emergencies in various ways. Brown and Larkin (2005) explain these ways as managing emergency medical services, dealing with fires and rescuing people.
The UK Fire Services are constantly on the alert. They know that emergencies can occur anytime across the world, without signaling. Thus, the country was well prepared to offer its services to the Haitian people within the shortest time possible. Under the umbrella of the UK Fire Service Search and Rescue Team (UK ISAR), the fire brigade team provided packed equipment which was airlifted to Haiti. The equipment included a series of full and heavy rescue equipment which were useful in urban search and Rescue operations in Port Au Prince. They also had equipment that aided them to work in harsh and hazardous conditions. These tools were; camping equipment, water/food and survival items which ensured the team were independent.
The UK team was able to search collapsed structures using special dogs, Delsar audio monitoring, shoring equipment. Besides, they were able to provide/ distribute humanitarian aid, medical equipment, provide security and training facilities to the locals.
The team also was on the lookout for identifying appropriate disaster handling technologies. They had experience, because of several years in the field, that technology was proficient in handling emergencies; thus they adopted modern technologies to assist them to mitigate the emergency. One of the technologies adopted was using Incident Recording System (IRS) system. Incident Recording System is an event recording system used by fire authorities to obtain and verify data electronically at the source. They also used Mobile incident command vehicles’ technology.
The technology provides sophisticated management and support by linking Fire Rescue organizations directly to other institutions like the police and other emergency response service providers. According to Smeby (2006) mobile Incident Command Vehicle is embraced by Fire brigades worldwide. Besides the mentioned technologies, the UK team used the Unified Command Support System (UCSS). The UCSS supported the Fire Rescue services by enabling the staff to get real-time data about happenings taking place throughout the city of Port Au Prince. The technology provided a standardized reporting format, increased the data collected meaning that very practical decisions were made based on the rich information extracted from the data thus simplifying the decision making in the shortest time possible
The fire brigade was also instrumental in supporting international rescue teams through preventive fire safety programs and inspections. They achieved this objective by offering programs that reduced the incidences of fire safety hazards to the residents. Training programs tailored to children entailed safe behavior while playing in the playground, precautions while handling hazardous objects among others. They also held a special training for people who work with hazardous substances such as propane, gasoline among others. They also fixed a code of conduct to guarantee a safe environment for the residents.
Global disasters are evolving, and they are taking different forms when they occur. They hit without a warning and cause huge destruction such as loss of lives, property and damage to the eco-systems. Though uncertain they seem, effective mitigation measures and contingency plans should be the advanced responsibility of Fire Rescue Services worldwide. Haiti earthquake demonstrates this scenario. The disaster occurred suddenly, without prior warning; however, if the Fire Rescue Services had invested in the early planning measures such as using technology to describe early warning signs, at least the damage would not have been lessened, especially the loss of life.
Therefore, to streamline Fire Rescue Services and support quick response, wherever the disaster occurs in the world, the Fire Rescue Services should review their emergency arrangements. Reviewing emergency arrangements ensures the organization is able to provide for all reasonably foreseeable emergency scenarios arising out of probable major hazard incidents. Also, reviewing is important because it benefits the fire brigade to respond with speed when an emergency strikes.
Fire Rescue Services should support the various Acts. Health and Safety, the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 and other Acts are important to guaranteeing reliable emergency handling. These acts mitigate the fire brigade in carrying out their operations without hindrance while protecting or upholding integrity and professionalism.
Globalization has brought about various issues in the Fire Rescue Services. The Fire Rescue Services should see this as an opportunity rather than a challenge. They should acknowledge diversity in their working relationship, learn from each other and devise strategies that can strengthen the Fire Rescue Services.
Fire and Rescue Services should review the availability of materials and equipment nationally and globally and determine if they are sufficient to respond to and manage major incidents. They should have effective equipment that can operate in difficult or critical situations.
Fire and Rescue Services should ensure their off-site emergency plans give due consideration to meeting the welfare needs of responders, including humanitarian, evacuation facilities. Plans should also be made to allow the contribution of the volunteer community in attending major incidents and other supporting roles during emergencies.
Fire Rescue Services is a key institution, and thus its services should be tailored in such a way that emergencies are handled within the shortest time possible and with professionalism. The Haiti case emphasizes the importance of timely intervention in terms of disaster mitigation.
The UK fire rescue team, like many other organized rescue teams across the world, was able to respond with speed and professionalism to contain the disaster. This was possible because of various factors. These factors included; they are ever on the alert, posse’s latest technology and maintaining appropriate training to handle any emergency disaster.
The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004
The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 is an Act that delivers simplified Fire and rescue services that respond to the needs of globalization. According to Legislation UK (2011), the Act is necessary for streamlining Fire and Rescue Services in the UK and Wales.
The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 are divided into seven parts and address various aspects of Fire and Rescue Service (Legislation UK, 2011). In part two, sections 6 to 20, the Act establishes the powers and duties of Fire and Rescue Authorities. Part three handles the management roles of fire and rescue services. It provides for the preparation of the Fire and Rescue National Framework setting up strategic priorities of the Fire and Rescue Service (Legislation UK, 2011).
The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 is important for guiding the Fire Rescue Services team in their duties of carrying out International emergencies. Without the Act, it is difficult to understand precisely what is required of them when handling a global emergency.
UN Human Rights Act
The United Nations maintains human rights as fundamental standards that all people and nations should enjoy. The United Nations is constantly involved in creating awareness across member countries through its various organs (A United Nations Priority, 2011). One of the rights mentioned in the Act is that a person should not be discriminated based on color, race, language, religion, sex, birth or political affiliation (A United Nations Priority, 2011).
These rights need to be observed by Fire Rescuers who carry out their emergencies globally. Because they work in different locations with diverse cultures and backgrounds, they should respect the culture, traditions and beliefs of the people they are involved with. Besides, they approve or make the organization involved in humanitarian assistance to respect and protect other people’s rights. It also helps to streamline the welfare system and avoids an organization being on the wrong side of the law (A United Nations Priority, 2011).
European Convention on Human Rights
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is an international treaty safeguarding human fundamental freedoms and human rights in Europe (Hellenic Resources Network, 2011).
The convention contributed to the establishment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Thus, any person whose rights are violated under the convention by the state party has a right to express his or her case to the court.
The ECHR is important for Fire Rescue and Services. It helps them to be active in international duties. This is because the ECHR is one of the only bodies granting high-level individual protection. ECHR has 18 articles that spell out the rights and privileges of a person. Hence, the Rescue services will utilize these rights and privileges in their global humanitarian response.
The Human Rights Act
According to The National Archives (2011), the Human Rights Act was an Act of UK parliament that received royal approval in 1998. It became operational in 2000. Its objective was to supplement the European Convention on Human Rights. The National Archives (2011) argues that the privileges in Act make unlawful public entity to carry themselves in a manner that can breach the Human Rights Act.
The Human Rights Act is essential for any organization involved in international humanitarian aid. The Fire Rescue Services will find the law useful. This is because the Act is universal for all countries. By understanding this Act, the Fire Rescue Services will be able to carry out humanitarian duties within the law and order.
Health and Safety Act
The health and safety at work Act were passed by the UK parliament. The Act describes the universal responsibilities of different categories of people such as; employers, employees and contractors and suppliers of goods and substances. The Act outlines a wide plan of rules by the UK government through a legislative apparatus. Sherriff and Tooma (2010) indicate the statutory instrument has created a comprehensive system of specific provisions for various industries, risks and disciplines. Hughes and Ed (2009) note the Act provides a foundation of general principles for managing health and safety at work. The objective of the Act is distinct. One of the rights in the Act spell out the safety of people at work, minimize workplace accidents or risks, control and monitors safekeeping of unsafe substances (Hughes and Ed, 2009).
Health and Safety are essential aspects of an individual life. In most countries, the Act relating to Health and Safety forms or is anchored in its constitution. Thus, the Fire Rescue Services, by understanding Health and Safety Act, will be able to execute humanitarian services with ease in disaster-stricken areas worldwide.
According to Hobsbawm (2007), globalization is reshaping the fixed and firm boundary between domestic and international spheres and altering people’s conceptions of the appropriate international and domestic activities. In his definition Hobsbawm (2007), says that globalization is integrating technology, capital and information beyond a country’s border. Many people term globalization as a “global village”. Thus, globalization blends local and global aspects that add value to business practices. Globalization has increased opportunities across the world. Hobsbawm (2007) illustrates these opportunities as new ways of gaining and sharing basic knowledge, investments, ethical values and resources. It has increased trade and markets, strengthened widespread use of information technologies, shaped migration patterns and increased cultural diversity.
Despite its vast opportunities, globalization has also elicited negative effects, that is, it is not an equal process. Hobsbawm (2007) says that globalization has increased global insecurity as a result of terrorist networks, uncontrolled migrations, rapid dissemination of information, crime and trade in illicit drugs.
Globalization has contributed to the internationalization of laws which has formed the basis of laws in some countries. It has altered the way laws are applied in different jurisdictions. However, having universal laws has simplified its applicability. Laws such as the UN Human Rights Act, European Convention on Human Rights, Health and Safety Act are universal laws for every country in the world. The fire and Rescue Services through understanding these laws, makes them work in given jurisdictions fulfilling their mission without any fear.
Globalization has also simplified how disaster management and handling during emergencies need to be mitigated. Rapid communication, modern technology and rapid transport facilities ensure disasters are mitigated timely. The internet is one of the widely used technologies in Fire and Rescue Services and relief organizations. The technology is used to gather global statistics on safety and production records for people, organizations and mines. Thus, the information is made readily available for decision-makers.
International relief organizations and international aid such as the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, International Rescue Operations and Red Crescentm, among others have benefited through rapid communication infrastructures. This has allowed them to respond to disasters more quickly past the borders of countries. Besides, global collaboration in rescue operations and evacuation of people in disaster-stricken areas has been a major rise of globalization.
Role of Practitioner
Fire brigades support International Rescue Teams by providing training and maintaining equipment. The nature of emergencies is changing because of globalization. Hence, being an effective fire rescue demands regular training. The fire brigade has embraced continuous training and learning new skills.
They also offer community services and dangerous material drop of points wherever they are on a mission. Dangerous materials such as paints, motor oil, dead batteries, chemicals used in constructions and vanishes can cause a serious health risk as well as a danger to the ecological system. Fire brigades provide a drop-off point for these materials to reduce the chances of being exposed to fire exposing conditions. They also ensure these substances are out of waterways and aquifers to protect the health of everyone.
The practitioners are involved in various roles in which they apply their expertise and knowledge. They help to educate/train the public or communities on how to minimize risks. They achieve this goal through fitting fire/smoke alarms and other important equipment in earmarked places. Also, they aid in delivering community safety programs to groups from all ages and backgrounds, getting involved with other practitioners from different cultures; this creates/promotes a positive working environment that embraces diversity, opportunities and equality
A fire practitioner is constantly changing with the pace of technology. Besides, modern disasters are complex and challenging, something that demands updated technology. Thus, a practitioner is either using or getting acquainted with technologies. One of the technologies embraced by practitioners worldwide is the Thermal Imaging Camera. The technology strengthens the effectiveness of search and rescue operations when visibility is weakened. Also, Telemetry is also used to support team communications and oversee arrangements during rescue operations.
Fire Rescue Practitioners and Coordination of international relief at an Emergency
Fire Rescue Practitioners are important working partners with the UN disaster response team. According to the United Nations Dept. of Humanitarian Affairs (2011), the UN disaster response team and Fire Rescue Practitioners are dispatched within a short notice on the instance or early warning of an emergency when they receive a request from the affected country or through a UN Humanitarian coordinator in the affected country.
The teams guarantee extra capacity to organize emergency assessments, provide immediate support with an experienced team of international Fire Rescue Practitioners. Occasionally, teams are supplemented with experts covering special fields of emergency management (United Nations Dept. of Humanitarian Affairs, 2011). In response to earthquakes, together with UN disaster response teams, the Fire Rescue Practitioners provide immediate on-site operations Coordination Center to assist in coordination and rescue operations (Global Issues, 2011).
Ethics is the cornerstone of every business entity. Besides improving an organization’s image, ethics help an organization to defend trust, esteem and confidence with the public. Most fire and rescue services have ethical responsibilities for carrying out their duties; thus, they have a set of policies that address the environment and sustainability and support strategies or models of carrying out procurement activities in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Fire and Rescue Services have policies that adhere to health and safety rules. The Fire and Rescue Services ensure that all contractors whether working in the Fire and Rescue Services sector or not continue by all relevant Health & Safety regulations. They also ensure that the health and safety of their workforce, contractors, volunteers and suppliers are protected. In achieving this success, they adhere to health and Safety Acts, occupational health and safety laws, laid down codes and standards, preserve adequate insurance cover and ensure that harassment, discrimination and bullying are not tolerated in their operations.
To ensure ethical health and safety standards are met Fire Rescue Services has to ensure key stages are involved (Hughes and Ed2009, 124). That is policy, organization, planning, quantifying performance, audit and evaluation. Policies are set for Fire Rescue Services to adhere to hence achieving effective ethical health and safety measures. These policies will help Fire Rescue Services by contributing to organizational performance and form part of proven gradual advancement.
In the UK, regulations such as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, passed in 1999, obligates Fire Rescue Services to make a comprehensive assessment of the risks to the health and safety of firefighters to which they are vulnerable while on duty, to implement any preventive and protective measures based on the principles mentioned in the Laws, to arrange for the effective planning, organization, control, overseeing and analysis of the preventive and protective measures and to provide such health surveillance as is appropriate having regard to the risks to health and safety which are identified by the risk assessment (Brown and Larkin, 2005).
The Fire Rescue Services upholds cordial relationships with the community. Fire Rescue Services primarily entails dealing with diverse communities and the public. Hence, the organization upholds truthfulness, honesty, integrity and resilience in the community where they are handling the crisis.
Ethics can also be dealt with using technology. By using technology such as the command system, Fire Rescue Services are able to predict the necessary responses, plan for the appropriate resources and training. In the process of analyzing the risks, Fire Rescue Services can adopt measures such as Fire Service Emergency Cover (FSEC) to analyze threats posed to communities and mitigate them effectively (Brown and Larkin, 2005). FSEC is an indispensable tool since it can be used to assess threats in houses, buildings, road traffic accidents and other incidents considered special. It also maintains lifestyle data. The data is used to enhance the capability to detect persons who might be at risk. This allows for the alleviation of risks to individuals. The combination of the risk data and information gathered from the community makes it possible to identify classes of people within the community who are often at risk in their homes.
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