Central Programme Office

About CPO

The CPO provides programme, project and benefits management services to the fire and rescue sector.  It forms one of the three hubs supporting the delivery of the National Fire Chiefs Council's strategy. The other two hubs focus on national resilience (Merseyside FRS) and support services (WMFS).

In a new departure for the fire and rescue service, the CPO will use portfolio management techniques to assist in the selection, prioritisation, control and delivery of programmes and projects in line with its strategic objectives and capacity to deliver. 

The CPO is located at London Fire Brigade's HQ and many members of the National Operational Guidance (NOG) Programme team now work for it. Like NOG, the CPO will be a place where staff from fire and rescue services are encouraged to work on secondment, gaining valuable experience of working at a national level.

Organistational chart 


From the start, the CPO will provide a home for the continued maintenance of NOG. It will be a business as usual activity and include the continued development of national operational learning.

There will be a new system of regular review meaning that every piece of guidance will be considered, to see whether it needs to be updated. There will also be key influencers such as the outcome of inspections and the ongoing work on professional standards. Taking both a proactive and reactive approach like this will ensure that the guidance and the associated training specifications keep pace with change over time.

The work of the CPO will focus initially on three areas of NFCC’s strategy

  • Community Risk
  • People
  • Digital

CFO Phil Loach from West Midlands Fire Service leads the Community Risk Programme. Risk management, like many areas of fire and rescue service performance, is difficult to benchmark and compare performance. This programme will produce - as one of its outputs - a clear definition of risk that would allow communities to hold the performance of their fire and rescue service to account. The programme will also produce an online toolkit to help services develop community risk managment plans more consistently. .

The second programme of work is focused on the People Programme, led by the Chief Executive of Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Ann Millington. It will cover areas such as leadership, apprenticeships and on-call recruitment.

Of the three programmes, the Digital programme is the least developed. It will look at readying the service for a digital future optimizing the opportunities from developments such as smart buildings, driverless vehicles and robotics.

The CPO will also support a new Fire Standards Board for fire services in England. The Board will comprise an independent Chair and Vice Chair, the Chair of the NFCC, representation from the LGA, the Home Office and the College of Policing.

The UK-wide defined good practice, as developed by the NFCC through the CPO, will form the basis for the standards offered to the Fire Standards Board for approval.


NFCC Council will provide strategic direction to the CPO, ensuring that the development and delivery of products from the CPO are in line with the NFCC strategy.

Stakeholder engagement

The CPO work programme will rely on continued engagement and consultation, as appropriate, from across the sector. This collaborative approach worked well for NOG and will continue under CPO. For each project within the proposed programmes, the stakeholders that need to be involved will be identified from both inside and outside of the sector.

In addition, a sector wide Engagement Forum (EF) will be created. The EF will be chaired by the NFCC and will not have a decision-making role. Its purpose is to support the CPO by providing a wide range of views about the programmes. Representative bodies, fire sector organisations and appropriate private sector organisations will all be invited to become members of the EF.