Fire Authority: Law, Ethics and Globalization

Introduction

The jurisdiction of a fire authority is defined by the executive body under which the department falls under. As a fire authority department, we have therefore been able to offer service and training to the communities that we are mandated to serve with diligence and guided by the law. It has been our vision to put in place mechanisms that promote fire-free environments and at the same time save as many lives as possible in the occurrence of any disaster. With these goals, we have been able to build a recognized reputation amongst the communities as a result of our quick response to disaster and consistent and efficient work in rescuing lives. At the same time, we have been able to create awareness to the public on the ways of preventing common causes of fire and death or injury caused by fire. I find it therefore necessary to mention that we have seen a considerable high decrease in the rate of fire outbreaks.

Factors affecting the Efforts Made

As a fire department authority that has been consistent in rescue plans for many years, we would like to offer our services to other parts of the world. We are seriously considering being part of the UK’s international search and rescue team to be able to have the lifelong dream opportunity to serve even beyond our borders. Without breaking the law, this is to be in line with the international cooperation for humanity.

According to the Fire and Rescue Services Act of 2004, the responsibilities of the authority are; fire safety, fire-fighting, road traffic accidents rescue, and emergency handling. Under the fire safety clause, the authority is mandated to make provisions that would enhance fire safety in the area under its mandate. In the process of making these provisions, the fire and rescue department should create awareness for the public. This is by providing information concerning the proper actions to be taken to prevent fires and even death or injury that may be caused by fire. As per the act, we as fire authorities we are naturally fire-fighters who risk their lives to protect other lives. With the experience gained by handling all these roles defined for us by law, I believe we have the expatriate with the relevant skills and zeal to engage in international duties required to make a difference to the global community. It is important to mention that, under the Emergencies clause of this act, the secretary of state has the authority by order to confer on fire and rescue authority functions that relate to emergencies other than fires and road traffic accidents. In relation to this, the authority is mandated to form other functions outside its area.

According to the act, the order may make provisions as to what a fire and rescue authority must or may do to execute the functions conferred. It may order the fire and rescue authority to secure the provisions of personnel, services, and equipment, secure and make provisions of training personnel and make arrangements for dealing with calls seeking help as well as summoning personnel. It may also order the authority to make arrangements to acquire information necessary to assist in discharging the function.

Another order may be to make arrangements necessary to ensure that effective measures are put in place to prevent or avoid further destruction of property that may be as a result of the discharged function. With this draft law reference, I am therefore justified to say that granted the opportunity then we would not be operating in violation of the law.

Effects of globalization on the work of those in the fire and rescue service

Globalization is the integration of the world’s economies, ideas and socio-cultural believes through a global network. The network comprises trade, transport, and communication (Waters 4). Globalization has several effects on the world as well as on the fire and rescue authority. One of the major aspects of globalization that affect the services of the authority is information. Globalization has effectively led to the increased rate of information flow all around the world. Technological innovations like mobile/ telephones, the internet, radios, and televisions have facilitated great awareness to both urban and rural settlements.

A lot of people have been able to acquire relevant information that can assist them in the prevention and management of disasters like fire outbreaks, to prevent loss of lives and destruction of property. The technological advancements at the same time have provided faster mechanisms for communication when seeking help in the middle of a disaster. A real-life example is a recent earthquake in Haiti.

The disaster in Haiti.
Plate 1: The disaster in Haiti.

The availability of phones, Internet, and television transmissions provided a very quick means of relaying the information pertaining to the disaster. This assisted them in welcoming an immediate response from the international community. Haiti is known to be the poorest country in the western hemisphere and with the high number of victims and injuries, the situation there had been described as a ‘race against time’ to locate and save survivors. Douglas Alexander who is the International Development secretary stressed a number of times the need to get as many as possible rescue teams on the ground. He said it was important to integrate the international force to work together to ensure that everyone did not turn up with the same equipment. With the high poverty levels in Haiti, Alexander stressed the point that their needs were expected to be big and therefore the international community had to work with great zeal, commitment, and cooperation.

Two days after the day of the earthquake, the first strong UK search team was already on the ground trying to find the lucky survivors in Port-au-Prince’s streets that had collapsed. Quickly after, they were followed by another team that was operating in six different units, gathered from across the entire UK’s fire and rescue team. Despite the hard-working and environmental conditions in the area, they managed to rescue four survivors in ten days. Although this was a recommendable job, I believe more could have been done within a shorter time with a larger team, especially with the inclusion of our authority brigade who boast of vast experience in handling similar situations. It’s largely because the area under our mandate for a long time was under the constant prevalence of fire outbreaks and traffic accidents that involved lots of lives and required great urgency. We managed to deal with this situation diligently to reduce the rate of disasters amicably. I therefore believe that this experience and commitment would be necessary in controlling and managing disaster outbreaks of great magnitudes like the one in Haiti.

Another aspect of globalization that affects the work of fire and rescue workers is politics. Politics provide the avenue through which laws and policies are made and defines how these policies are supposed to govern a nation. Our fire and rescue authority is not an exception in this since it’s an organ of government and therefore operates under the law. Global politics has integrated various governments, creating a global one that works towards representing the interests of different social and economic regions (Waters 184). This has enabled the world to work together in protecting lives in times of disasters that may be of various dynamics.

Finance and economics are other aspects of globalization that affects the way the fire and rescue authority can offer its services. Different countries have different economic abilities (Waters 218). Some first world nations boast of strong economies that could allow them to handle certain kinds of disasters without seeking outside help. At the same time, there are nations that do not possess the capacity to handle similar disasters due to their economical inabilities. The disparity therefore demands cooperation and complete commitment during disasters. Nations with higher abilities are expected to exploit their full potential in trying to assist in such situations, both in terms of finance and man-power to save as many lives as possible.

Language barrier is one of the major setbacks in rescue missions. Due to the vast popularity of English As a language, UK as a nation that is part of the global community and with a great economic ability is expected to offer great support in rescue missions. Another aspect of globalization is culture which defines the unique believes and behavior of different groups of the society. The high rate of exchange of culture across the world has brought about the realization of new identities within people bringing about acceptance and peaceful coexistence amongst people of different race and backgrounds. In a world like this, ideas tend be exchanged productively so much that more people are getting more and more informed to eradicate ignorance. In a society with no ignorance, most people are able to protect themselves more easily from any kind of harm or danger.

Table 1: Examples of globalization.

Cultural This is what has brought about the cross-border exchange of culture in terms of socio-ethical and moral values. People from different regions can now easily interact.without much difficulties.
Economic This is whereby nations of the world came to an agreement to form a global common market. As a result, different countries are free to exchange goods and services any time as they desire.
Technological This has brought about global communication and transport systems that have connected different parts of the world without considering the regional boundaries.

Ethical considerations in the fire and rescue service

Ethical training is a very vital factor to consider within any public institution to ensure moral behavior and standards are maintained. It is important for every public worker to understand the importance of ethics and the ethical issues that come about in handling their daily responsibilities (Mafunisa 33). Ethics is a term used to define the moral standards and conduct that are supposed to guide each individual in his or her daily life. It sets standards that are supposed to judge what it right and evil, what is punishable and what deserves acknowledgement and reward. Public sector ethics outlines a number of standards that each individual in the sector should adhere to, and this includes even the fire authority workers. One of the standards states that every public service individual has been entrusted with public property and power by the citizens of a nation. They should therefore protect and use it to offer services to the entire public without discrimination and biasness.

Therefore individuals have a direct responsibility to the entire public to protect their lives and property. The second standard states that all the public service employees are supposed to maintain a higher standard of ethics as compared to the public simply because they have been entrusted with public resources. For this reason they are expected to always address the public with much respect and must be sympathetic to their needs. The third standard that public officials must adhere to command them to always obey and enforce the law and avoid being compromised at all times (Schneid & Collins 231). This is in line with the social values that are supposed to guide against corruption. Still on that, another standard that has been set to guide public officials is one that demands all of them to carry public business in a way that represents the interests of all diverse groups (Mafunisa 32). This is in reference to the social status, race, physical challenges and any other minority groups in the society. Everyone should feel respected and attended to with regards to his or her special needs. Another standard under the public sector ethics states that each individual is expected to be consistent in the decision making process to achieve the mission and vision that they are supposed to be working towards. It is required of each individual to put maximum energy and resources to the goals of the organization. Accountability should be acknowledged in all the structural levels of the institution (Mafunisa 34).

The occurrences of disasters and their management in the past had raised a lot of questions. Did the world do enough? Was there proper coordination? How effective was the response? These were the questions on many people’s minds as they tried to ponder on those situations. This therefore prompted the United Nations Environmental Program to come up with the Disaster and Conflicts Program. The purpose of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) was to reduce environmental risks that threatened the safety of human beings. These threats can be environmentally caused and also as a result of conflicts and disasters.

The latest report by UNEP shows that since the beginning of the new millennium, there has occurred thirty five large scale conflicts as well as two thousand five hundred disasters all around the world. The report goes further ahead to state that more than two billion people were affected psychologically, physically or even emotionally. Still on this, it was reported that millions and millions of people lost their lives in these conflicts and disasters. At the same time, these events have led to the destruction of proper and infrastructure, internal and external displacements and compromised security. It has also affected the economic and political stability of different nations leading to increased poverty levels. As a result of this, development becomes unsustainable and therefore a country has to rely on support from other nations. Another report by the UNEP shows that for the last twenty years, an average of twenty violent conflicts have risen due to the battle for control of the exploitation of natural resources. This is expected to be even worse considering the rate of the global population growth. With growth in population, it is also expected that the demand for natural resources will also increase and therefore there is a possibility of more conflicts in the coming years (UNEP 48).

The changing world environment is expected to affect food security, sufficient production of food, health, boundaries and distribution of people. This is a possible threat to the peaceful coexistence of different people since it may lead to the worsening of the already existing tensions and maybe trigger new conflicts. With these risks in mind, UNEP felt strongly that there was a need to classify ‘disaster and conflicts’ as a major concern in the course of their work. Through the Disaster and Conflict Program, they offer four major services to their member states namely;

  • The post-crisis environmental evaluation: here they assess the impacts of the various crises on the environment, health, humans’ well-being, and security. In cooperation with the office for the coordination of the humanitarian affairs, UNEP has been mandated with the task of bringing on board and integrating or coordinating the various international emergency teams. They also have the task of identifying any environmental risks and threats that pose a challenge to human life (Schneid & Collins 237).

Ethical considerations in the fire and rescue service

  • Post-crisis environmental recovery: after the evaluation and detailed analysis of the post-disaster environment, UNEP has the mandate to put in place mechanisms that will enable the recovery process.
  • Environmental coordination and peace building: UNEP looks towards integrating different societies for peaceful coexistence and equal sharing of the natural resources (UNEP 49).
  • Disaster risk reduction: this is done by putting in place mechanisms that will look towards ensuring environmental risks are reduced. UNEP has also made it their responsibility to try and create awareness by providing information on how to avoid disasters within the environment within which different people live.

Conclusion

With the rising levels of environmental risks everyday, there is need for better preparations, commitment and cooperation in the emergency and rescue management. With the changing world environment, most studies show that things are not expected to get any better. The effects of climate change and a high growing population is expected to put more pressure on the existing resources and this has the capacity to create even more tension amongst the public. Increased preparedness and experience is necessary to deal with the anticipated conflicts and disaster. The vast experience acquired our fire and rescue authority in dealing with emergencies can play a major role in such events. This is because dealing with emergencies and saving life and property is what defines our daily responsibilities. If the UNEP report is anything to go by then action should be taken immediately.

Works Cited

Mafunisa, John. Public service ethics. Cape Town: Juta and Company Limited, 2000.

Schneid, Thomas & Collins, Larry. Disaster Management and Preparedness. London: Lewis Publishers, 2001.

UNEP. Year Book of Conflicts and Disaster, 2009.

Waters, Malcolm. Globalization. London: Routledge Publishers, 1995.