News

14-01-19

New Chair for Fire Standards Board for England announced

Consistency, learning from incidents and developing fit-for-purpose fire and rescue services standards will be a key focus of the newly formed Fire Standards Board.

The Board will oversee professional standards of fire and rescue services across England while supporting the continuous improvement of services. The Board will be responsible for development of a high-quality, useable framework of professional standards focussed on achieving positive outcomes. The standards will be aligned to the work of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and its national initiatives. Once developed, the Board will be responsible for the regular review of those standards.

An independent Chair and Vice Chair have now been appointed. There was a strong field of nearly 50 applicants, demonstrating the importance of the Board as part of a wider programme of fire reform.

The newly appointed Chair is Suzanne McCarthy. She is a qualified lawyer and experienced non-executive director whose roles currently include the Valuation Tribunal Service and the London Mayor’s Office on Policing and Crime.

Alison Sansome is the new independent Vice Chair. Alison brings non-executive experience from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Office of the Public Guardian, as well as an extensive career spanning the civil service, technology industry and health sector.

Other Board members include representatives from the Home Office, NFCC, the Local Government Association, and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.  The Board will be supported by the NFCC’s Central Programme Office.

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher said: “I welcome the appointment of Suzanne and Alison. They bring with them extensive experience of working in a range of areas where they have provided direction and led change during challenging times. The fire and rescue service will give the standards legitimacy and we will benefit from their fresh perspective and I look forward to working with them.

Through the Board we can ensure that the standards will be prioritised and commissioned based on the needs of the sector but also informed by the inspectorate.

With central oversight, we can ensure standards evolve consistently, by reviewing good practice across the sector and shape them using post-incident reviews, inspection findings and legislative changes.”

Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd said: “The development of professional standards for fire and rescue services in England is a key element of our fire reform programme and I welcome the appointment to the new Fire Standards Board of Suzanne McCarthy as Chair and Alison Sansome as Vice Chair. I am confident that the Chair and Vice Chair will represent the vision and purpose of the Board and ensure it quickly establishes itself as an essential part of the fire sector.

I’d also like to thank other Board members, the representatives from across the sector, for their commitment to this important project and particularly the National Fire Chiefs Council for their leadership in this area. I look forward to hearing about the priorities for development of the first fire standards following the initial meeting in the new year.” 

Suzanne McCarthy, Chair of the Fire Standards Board commneted: “As Chair of the new Fire Standards Board I appreciate the importance of the work the Board will be undertaking for the Fire Service. I very much look forward to working with Alison, the other members of the Board and stakeholders in developing professional standards for England’s fire and rescue services.”

Fire and rescue services in the Devolved Administrations operate against their own standards and inspection frameworks. However, they will be encouraged to engage in the standards development process, with the option of adopting all - or part of the professional standards - developed through the Board. 

Representative bodies and a range of other stakeholders will be included in the development of standards through the new Strategic Engagement Forum.

The first meeting of the Fire Standards Board will take place in the early part of 2019.

 Notes to editors
  1. The newly formed board aims to:
  • Oversee the identification, organisation, development and maintenance of professional standards
  • Agree priorities and commissioning standards to be developed
  • Maintain oversight of standards in development
  • Approve professional standards once developed, including ensuring they have been appropriately validated and assured
  • Consider whether published standards remain current
  1. The chair, Suzanne McCarthy, is an accomplished Chief Executive, Chairman and Board member. She has led complex, high-profile organisations, with significant experience of working in a variety of sectors. Her work has involved standards and regulation, organisational evolution, governance, strategy, performance management and audit and risk.
  2. Suzanne will be supported by vice chair Alison Sansome who is an experienced executive director, independent director and board advisor with experience of working in the public sector, third sector organisations and regulatory bodies in the UK.
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