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New Core Code of Ethics to be at the heart of Fire and Rescue Services

A new Core Code of Ethics for Fire and Rescue Services launched yesterday by the Local Government Association (LGA), the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), pledges to be at the heart of everything employees do and ensures communities get the best possible support.

Developed in consultation with the sector, the Core Code is designed to help employees of the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) act in the best way towards each other and while serving the public. It will sit alongside the Code of Ethics Fire Standard developed by the Fire Standards Board.

The Core Code sets out five ethical principles, based on the Seven Principles of Public Life, which provide a basis for promoting good behaviour and challenging in appropriate behaviour.

These include;

  • Putting our communities first – we put the interest of the public, the community and service users first
  • Integrity – we act with integrity including being open, honest and consistent in everything we do
  • Dignity and respect - making decisions objectively based on evidence, without discrimination or bias
  • Leadership – we are all positive role models, always demonstrating flexibility and resilient leadership. We are all accountable for everything we do and challenge all behaviour that falls short of the highest standards
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) – We continually recognise and promote the value of EDI both within the FRSs and the wider communities in which we serve. We stand against all forms of discrimination, create equal opportunities, promote equality foster good relations and celebrate difference

These ethical principles will help to improve organisational culture and workforce diversity of FRSs, ensuring that communities are supported in the best way.

They will be embedded in everything FRSs and their employees do and be at the heart of day-to-day activity, guiding individual behaviours, in particular when faced with difficult, changing and unclear situations.

As a “Core” Code, it recognises there will be differing governance arrangements and is flexible enough to be adapted by every service, where any local values, behaviours and governance models can be added, for example where they are part of a county council and obliged to also comply with the council’s code. It can be added to but not detracted from, thereby ensuring local values and expectations of behaviours can also be reflected.

The Core Code has been developed in response to Sir Tom Winsor's recommendation in the State of Fire report 2019.

Cllr Nick Chard, LGA Lead Core Code of Ethics, said:

“We’re delighted to launch The Core Code of Ethics, outlining the key principles which will be at the heart of everything Fire and Rescue Services do, underpinning and guiding the behaviour and culture of individuals working with and on behalf of FRSs.

“The sector-led Core Code is designed to be flexible so it can be adopted and reflect any existing codes and governance arrangements local services already have in place.

“Ultimately, this core code aspires to ensure we have a positive and diverse working culture within the fire and rescue service, making it a great place to work for everyone, while also maintaining public trust and confidence in FRSs.”

Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, Mark Hardingham said:

“I am delighted to see the publication of the first Core Code of Ethics for the fire and rescue service. As NFCC Chair I have the privilege of working with a dedicated team that is committed to ensuring our fire and rescue services are positive and inclusive environments for all of their staff; this, of course, translates to them being able to provide an excellent service to their local communities.

“The Core Code is explicit in its expectations relating to the behaviours of staff at all levels within fire and rescue services. The detail within it, alongside the supporting guidance and the associated Fire Standard, will help ensure the Core Code becomes fully embedded in everything fire and rescue services do, enhanced by their own locally adopted ethical codes and behaviours.”

Roger Hirst, Core Code of Ethics Lead at the APCC, said:

“I am pleased to join partners in launching the Core Code of Ethics for fire. The Core Code applies to all roles across fire and rescue and this launch marks the first steps towards greater consistency across services.

“I am confident effective implementation of the Core Code’s principles will provide existing and future employees, as well as the public, with assurance that inappropriate behaviour will be challenged and that services will continually recognise and promote the value of equality, diversity and inclusion internally and in the wider communities they serve.”

Lord Greenhalgh, Minister for Building Safety and Communities, said:

“I am delighted to see the launch of the Core Code of Ethics and the Code of Ethics Fire Standard.”

“The Core Code of Ethics will not only help foster a positive and more diverse working culture so all those brave individuals in our fire and rescue services feel supported, but will also ensure the best possible service for communities by bolstering public trust in our excellent services.”

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