East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has a range of legal responsibilities relating to emergency planning:
Preparing and exercising plans, in partnership with others, in line with the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001. Under these regulations, we make sure, in case of a radiological emergency, information is available about the emergency, and what measures should take to minimise the risk to the local population.
We sponsor, organise and facilitate events which bring together key organisations from across the public, private and voluntary sectors to increase awareness about emergency planning issues, to make sure all of those agencies understand their responsibilities in the event of a major emergency.
The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 introduces the concept of two categories of Organsiation/Agency that respond to an emergency
Category One Organisations comprise the main agencies that are likely to be involved at a local level at an emergency. These are the The statutory Emergency Services (Ambulance, Coastguard, Fire, Police), Local Authorities, Health Authorities and the Environment Agency. Category Two Organisations include the Utilities, transport Operators and the Health & Safety Executive.
Category One organisations have a legal duty to plan for "Emergencies"; Category Two organisations have an obligation to cooperate. Both levels of responders have the obligation to take due regard to the voluntary sector in the preparation of plans to improve the resilience of the county to deal with major emergencies.
Local Resilience Areas
The UK is broken into a number of Local Resilience Areas and East Sussex falls into the Sussex Local Resilience Area. Each Local Resilience Area has a Local Resilience Forum. These forums consist of chief officers from the main organisations listed above.
Each Local Resilience Forum is responsible for creating and maintaining a Community Risk Register. The Community Risk Register identifies possible emergency situations specific to their Local Resilience Area, and the possible actions needed to deal with each risk.
Civil Contingencies Act 2004
The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 became active on 1st April 2005 and, with the exception of Business Continuity Management, must be fully complied with by 1st October 2005. The Act includes the following main elements necessary to ensure the correct approach is taken in planning for "Major Emergencies".
The Act imposes a duty on the local responders to cooperate with each other; the mechanism for this is the Local Resilience Forum (LRF).
Responders have a duty to share information with each other. This information will be used to produce a Community Risk Register. This is a statutory requirement and forms the basis for emergency planning.
All Category One organisations (see Key Organisations above) have a duty to carry out and publish joint risk assessments. These will be held within the Community Risk Register. A sub-group of the LRF, a Risk Assessment Working Group will consider the overall risk to the community and determine an appropriate level.
Category One organisations have a duty to maintain plans to prevent, reduce control or mitigate the effects of an emergency. Plans must be in place for the highest risks identified in the Community Risk Register. Training and exercising form part of the emergency planning process.
Business Continuity Management
Category One organisations because of their nature are required by the Act to maintain plans so that they can continue to function even though they are possibly effected by a major emergency themselves. The extent of this planning should cover both internal functions and those companies on whom we are reliant.
Communicating with the public
A pan-agency process of information provision in a major emergency is in place so that the public will be provided with consistent, accurate and non-contradictory information and advice.
Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1989 (COMAH)
COMAH applies mainly to the chemical industry, but also to some storage activities, explosives and nuclear sites, and other industries where threshold quantities of dangerous substances identified in the regulations are kept or used. ESFRS are responsible for applying the regulations across East Sussex by making sure we meet the following objectives:
Containing and controlling incidents to minimise the effects and to limit damage to people, the environment and property.
Implementing the necessary measures to protect people and the environment from the effects of major accidents.
Communicating the necessary information to the public and to emergency services and authorities concerned in the area.
Restoring and cleaning-up of the environment following a major accident.
Currently there is one top tier site in the county that this applies to. We make sure that off-site plans are written to deal with such incidents, information is given to the public and those plans are tested. This makes sure all reasonable measures are taken to prevent major accidents and to limit the consequences to people and the environment.
Visit the Health & Safety Executive's website for more information about COMAH.
Radiation Emergency Preparedness and Public Information Regulations 2001 (REPPIR).
Similar to the COMAH regulations regarding on site and off site plans and the testing of these plans. As there are no radiation sites in the county, our main role under these regulations is to supply information to the public about the emergency and what measures should be taken to minimise health risks including:
Advising on health protection depending on the emergency
Any restrictions on the consumption of certain food stuffs and water supply likely to be contaminated
Basic rules on hygiene and decontamination
Any recommendations to stay indoors
Distributing and using protective substances
Special warnings for certain population groups
Visit the Health & Safety Executives's REPPIR Page for more information.
How you can plan for emergencies
In August 2004 the government sent out an information booklet 'Preparing for Emergencies - What you need to know' to every home in the UK. It gives practical common sense advice on what to do in an emergency - for example, a fire, terrorist attack or natural disaster.
Visit the Governments Preparing for Emergencies website to find out more.