Fire and rescue framework: child rights and wellbeing impact assessment

Child rights and wellbeing impact assessment (CRWIA) for the framework - the statutory vehicle through which Scottish Ministers set out priorities and objectives that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service must have regard to in carrying out its functions.

The next Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland

Summary of policy aims and desired outcomes

The next Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland will provide guidance and support to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) on its priorities and objectives in carrying out its functions.

Executive summary

The CRWIA has been developed to consider impacts on child rights and wellbeing from the Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland ("The Framework").

It is a requirement of Section 40 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 (as amended) that Scottish Ministers prepare such a Framework document, and do so in consultation with SFRS, bodies representing SFRS staff, COSLA and any other relevant bodies.

The Framework is the statutory vehicle through which Scottish Ministers set out priorities and objectives that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) must have regard to in carrying out its functions. The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 ("the 2005 Act") states that Scottish Ministers will keep the Framework under review, and 'may from time to time revise it'.


The current Framework has been in place since September 2016 and sets out 10 strategic high level priorities for the Service. It is less prescriptive than the previous 2013 Framework, a reflection of the fact that SFRS was by then an established national body. It also asked SFRS to explore new ways of working to allow it to contribute an even greater role in the protection of Scotland's communities.

Given the changes to the public sector landscape since 2016, coupled with the fact that Scotland is facing ever more complex challenges and risks - the consequences of which are having profound impacts at community level – the Scottish Government believe it is timely to re-fresh the strategic direction for SFRS within a new Framework.

During the course 2021 officials have worked on the development of the new Framework to develop the new priorities which will form the Scottish Ministers' 'ask' of the Service.

The 7 strategic priorities in the new Framework are outcome focused, set within the context of Scottish Ministers' Programme for Government, and can be broadly categorised under the 4 pillars of Christie – people, performance, prevention and partnership. These priorities form the basis for the narrative of the chapters in the Framework.

Underpinned by Scotland's National Outcomes, the strategic priorities set out within the Framework serve to collaboratively drive forward how the Service can do more for the people of Scotland, while adapting to the changing nature of risks facing communities across the country.

Many of these priorities are overarching and are relevant for several aspects of SFRS's role. SFRS must have regard to these priorities when developing its Strategic Plan – in essence the Framework sets out at a high level what we expect the SFRS to focus upon, and its Strategic Plan will set out the details of how SFRS intend to do this.

The strategic priorities in the Framework are designed to be inclusive and support the rights and wellbeing of all people and communities in Scotland, including children and young people.

Scope of the CRWIA

The Framework sets out the high level strategic priorities for the delivery of fire and rescue services in Scotland and it reaffirms SFRS's purpose below:

The main purpose of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is to work in partnership with communities and with others in the public, private and third sectors, on prevention, protection and response, to improve the safety and well-being of people throughout Scotland.

It is recognised that SFRS has an important role in protecting and promoting the rights and wellbeing of all children, and especially those children who have particular vulnerabilities. It is for the Service to consider issues of particular relevance to children and young people in its Strategic, Operating and Local Plans and in the development of its policies and procedures.

This CRWIA does not extend to these planning processes. However, we expect matters relating to the rights and wellbeing of children to be considered directly through those exercises.

Children and young people's views and experiences

The Framework sets out a strategic priority for SFRS that is relevant:

The overriding purpose of SFRS remains to improve the safety and well-being of communities. A priority for SFRS is preventing fires and reducing their human, social and economic impact. SFRS should use an evidence-based approach to target groups and individuals according to risk, and universal population wide activities, to improve fire and wider community safety. These should contribute to reducing inequality and encouraging sustainable and inclusive growth. SFRS should work with public, private and voluntary organisations; communities and individuals where they can add value and contribute to outcomes.

SFRS should use this strategic priority as a driver to continue to be passionate about saving lives through education and proudly engage with children and young people within their school or community environment to teach key safety messages. SFRS's website has a series of presentations and lesson plans which can be delivered by teachers, youth workers and community groups.

Further resources can be found at Go Safe Scotland which forms part of the SFRS's education programme and supports its commitment to providing fire safety education to all primary school aged children and young people across Scotland.

The main objective of SFRS's Youth Volunteer Scheme (YVS) is to provide a safe, welcoming, enjoyable and fun environment where young people can learn as individuals, develop positive relationships and actively work together for a safer Scotland. The scheme provides a great opportunity for young people across Scotland to develop their skillset and make a valuable contribution to their local communities, whilst gaining a unique insight into life at a working fire station. By participating in the programme, young people will have a practical understanding of the SFRS and play a supportive role in their communities as SFRS youth volunteers; supporting development and enhancing inter-personal skills and confidence.

Feedback from Young People on the SFRS YVS:

Many Youth Volunteers (YV) join the scheme because they want to join the fire service when they are older. Although SFRS can't guarantee its YVs a job after they leave the scheme, they gain skills and experience that will benefit them if they apply. They see SFRS as an attractive place to work, and want to work in an organisation that makes a difference.

Young people were involved in the development stage of the scheme and said they wanted to 'belong with SFRS', and be seen as the 'young' fire service. SFRS's YVs are proud to represent SFRS at public events and wear their YVS uniform. The following quotes were made by young people who joined the YVS:

'I definitely tell people that I'm part of this and I'm proud to help promote the fire service and everything they do.'

'Wearing my uniform out in the community makes me feel proud and that I'm doing something good.'

'Yes, I tell people about YVS, what you learn and about all the volunteering we do.'

'It feels good to go along to events and be out and about in the community and wear the service crest with pride, because you know you are part of something.'

SFRS run a host of engagement schemes/programmes including, Fire setter Intervention And Re-Education Scheme (FIReS), FireSkills and ACE Awareness Programme which are utilised to engage with young people, with the aim of educating and supporting them and reduce and or prevent the instances of deliberate fire setting and fire related anti-social behaviour. These include:

Fire Setter Intervention And Re-Education Scheme (FIReS) – The FIReS, through a programme of targeted interventions, offers a flexible approach to assist in the education of those who demonstrate an unsafe or concerning interest in fire. The FIReS programme supports a consistent SFRS approach and practice to reduce deliberate fire setting and promote responsible citizenship and wellbeing. It identifies trends within incidents of fire setting and uses information to influence future partnership working and interventions.

FireSkills - FireSkills is a flexible programme, consisting of series of individual sessions that are based on fire fighter drills adapted to provide a unique learning experience for young people. The sessions can be combined to provide a course which assists SFRS to meet local priorities and is designed to help reduce the instances of deliberate fire setting and other fire related anti-social behaviour.

Building on the sessions from FireSkills, the FireSkills Employability Award has been developed in partnership with Police Scotland and demonstrates the SFRS commitment to provide the best opportunities for young people by providing formal recognition of their achievement. The FireSkills Sessions have undergone the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Credit and Levelling process to become a recognised accredited learning programme, providing 4 credit points at level 4. This enables learners to:

  • build a portfolio of evidence based on activities within informal education settings; and
  • identify transferrable skills and recognise prior learning for further education and employment opportunities.

Section 9.i in SFRS's H.M Young Offenders Institution Polmont FireSkills Employability Award Evaluation Report[1] highlights the work of the programme, the targeted outcomes and the difference the programme made to the young people who participated.

Key Findings, including an assessment of the impact on children's rights, and how the Framework will contribute to children's wellbeing

SFRS Fire and Rescue Incident Statistics[2] confirm that there is a strong relationship between age and rates of fatal casualties. The rates for those aged below 16 are less than a tenth of the Scotland average, while the rate for those aged 80-89 is more than triple the average figure and for the over 90s it is over five times higher.

House fires are a significant cause of death in pre-school children[3]. In the UK in the three-year period 2006-2008, 42 children under the age of 5 years died as a result of a house fire in the UK (17 in 2006; 15 in 2007 and 10 in 2008). House fires can kill and seriously injure both children and adults. While it is often the smoke that kills people, burns can also be very serious injuries which may require long periods of treatment.

House fires can also result in considerable cost and disruption for families, the house can be uninhabitable for a long time and possessions ruined, with a need for furniture and equipment to be replaced and houses redecorated. If the house and contents are not insured, the costs can be very high.

There are strong links between childhood injury deaths and families living in deprived circumstances. For all unintentional childhood injury deaths, the children of parents who have never worked or are in long term unemployment are 13 times more likely to die from an injury than those whose parents have higher managerial occupations. When childhood deaths from house fires are examined the gradient is even steeper at 37 times the rate for more advantaged families (Edwards et al. 2006) [4].

The work of SFRS extends beyond prevention and response to fires, it includes a range of preventative activity that should positively impact the well-being of young people, for example in relation to water safety. As above, the Framework contains the following strategic priority for SFRS that it should use as a driver for this work:

  • The overriding purpose of SFRS remains to improve the safety of communities. A priority for SFRS is preventing fires and reducing their human, social and economic impact. SFRS use an evidence-based approach to target groups and individuals according to risk, and universal population wide activities, to achieve improved fire and wider safety. These should contribute to improving community safety, reducing inequality and encouraging sustainable and inclusive growth. SFRS should work with public, private and voluntary organisations; communities and individuals where they can add value and contribute to outcomes.

Unintentional injury is a major challenge for the health and well-being of preschool children today. It is one of the leading causes of death in children aged 1-4 years in the UK. Falls, poisonings and thermal injuries are the most common injuries resulting in hospital admissions and emergency department attendance in pre-school children. A substantial number of children die from unintentional injuries at home or in leisure environments. Children and young people who survive a serious unintentional injury can experience severe pain and may need lengthy treatment and numerous stays in hospital. They could be permanently disabled or disfigured and their injuries may have an impact on their social and psychological wellbeing. A child burned in early infancy may carry the scars for the rest of his/ her life.

Young children's injuries relate closely to their age and stage of development. In a house fire a young child will need the help of an adult to escape from the house. In the event of a fire, a young child's natural reaction may be to hide – under a bed or in a cupboard or wardrobe to escape the effects of the fire.

The Framework asks SFRS to continue to progress the Scottish Government's commitment to building safer communities with partners and develop a co-ordinated and strategic approach to reducing unintentional harm. This should prioritise understanding and supporting the wide range of initiatives and actions that are already taking place locally across Scotland and to share good practice as enabled under the 2005 Act. This will prioritise groups most likely to experience unintentional harm; people in Scotland's most deprived communities, those aged over 65 and children under 5.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014[5] identified SFRS as a 'Corporate Parent'. This means that it has a responsibility to understand and respond to the needs of care experienced children and young people and care leavers. SFRS's Corporate Parenting Plan 2020-2023[6] details how it will meet these needs and signifies departments across the Service working together to ensure it responds to its legislative demands and is able to deliver the agenda throughout the Service. The Framework acknowledges SFRS's legislative responsibilities under the 2014 Act.

The 2014 Act (section 2) also requires SFRS to publish a report every 3 years of what steps it has taken in that period "to secure better or further effect within its areas of responsibility of the UNCRC requirements."

Subject to the outcome of legal proceedings before the Supreme Court, reporting duties under section 15 the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation)(Scotland) Bill (the "UNCRC Bill") will replace this duty. Section 6(1) of the UNCRC Bill will require public authorities, including SFRS, not to act incompatibly with the UNCRC requirements. Section 15 of the UNCRC Bill will places a duty on listed authorities, including SFRS, to report on what they have done in the previous 3 years and what they plan to do in the next reporting period to: (i) comply with the section 6(1) duty; and (ii) secure better or further effect of the rights of children.

The Framework states that SFRS's delivery model must be flexible to reflect the differing needs of local communities. In accordance with the 2012 Act, it must produce a local fire and rescue plan for each local authority area. These Local Plans should present profiles which reflect the risks to the specific local authority area, as well as setting out local solutions to local issues and detail local activity.

SFRS Local Plans are developed with local Councils and other key partners, through local Community Planning Partnerships, to drive forward Local Outcome Improvement Plans (LOIPs). Consideration of children and young people is considered as part of that process. For example, SFRS has participated in the development of the Argyll & Bute LOIP and its six outcomes, including 'children and young people have the best possible start'[7].

The 14 SFRS Local Senior Officer Areas hold Tasking and Coordinating team meetings on a regular basis. This provides an opportunity to share issues with partner agencies (Police, Housing, Local Authority Departments). Tasking and Coordinating is a multi-agency evidence-based information sharing and action planning process, which will enable the SFRS to better manage operational demand and contribute more dynamically to the Community Planning and Community Safety agenda at strategic, tactical and operational levels. This is where identified issues of deliberate fire-setting will be discussed and plans put in place to reduce the likelihood of future occurrences. In this regard deliberate fire-setting will involve most of the partner organisations and the local communities in which they occur.

The Framework states that SFRS should promote workforce diversity through positive action on recruitment, retention and promotion to encourage greater involvement of under-represented groups to develop a workforce that greater reflects the population of Scotland in terms of characteristics such as sex, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability and gender reassignment. Support and engagement should also be shown with organisations that support youth employment.

As part of its work to address equality issues, the Framework asks SFRS to endeavour to remain an accredited Living Wage Employer and encourage the uptake of Modern Apprentices across the organisation in recognition of wider Scottish Government aspirations.

The Framework makes clear that when developing its website, its social media presence, any interactive applications and engaging with young Scottish citizens, SFRS should look to put the user at the heart of its service design.

The Framework's 'People' section discusses the importance of engaging with youth organisations on equality issues and ensuring equality impacts are assessed in the procurement process by service providers.

We have identified that the Framework applies directly, or indirectly, to the following United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Articles:

Article 3 - Best interests of the child - Every decision and action taken relating to a child must be in their best interests. Governments must take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures to ensure that children have the protection and care necessary for their wellbeing - and that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for their care and protection conform with established standards.

Article 5 - Parental guidance and a child's evolving capacities - Governments must respect the rights, responsibilities and duties of parents and carers, as well as members of the extended family, to direct and guide the child in the exercise of their rights.

Article 6 - Life, survival and development - Every child has a right to life and to develop to their full potential.

Article 12 - Respect for the views of the child - Every child has a right to express their views and have them given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity. Children should be provided with the opportunity to be heard, either directly or through a representative or appropriate body.

Article 18 - Parental responsibilities and state assistance - Parents, or legal guardians, have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child, and should always consider what is best for the child. Governments must provide appropriate assistance to parents and carers to help them.

Governments must take all appropriate measures to ensure the children of working parents have the right to benefit from childcare services and facilities.

Article 27 - Adequate standard of living - Every child has a right to a standard of living adequate to their physical, mental and social development. Governments should take measures to assist parents and carers who cannot afford to provide this, and in particular to provide assistance and support with food, clothing and housing. Governments should take all appropriate measures to recover child maintenance from parents or others who have financial responsibility for the child.

Article 40 - Juvenile justice - Governments must establish a minimum age of criminal responsibility. Wherever appropriate and desirable, measures for dealing with children without resorting to judicial proceedings should be used (providing that human rights are fully respected). A child accused or convicted of breaking the law must be treated with dignity and respect, in a manner which takes into account the aim of promoting the child's reintegration into society. They have the right to legal assistance and a fair trial that takes account of their age or situation. Governments must ensure that the child's privacy is fully respected at all times.

Monitoring and review

Scottish Ministers will keep the terms of the Framework under regular review. The Scottish Government's SFRS Governance and Accountability Framework[8] requires the Scottish Government to undertake a formal review of the SFRS at least twice a year with the responsible Scottish Minister meeting with the SFRS Chair at least once a year. SFRS performance will be assessed taking into account the new Framework.

While the Framework sets out high level strategic priorities for SFRS to consider, assess and implement, we expect the Service to give due consideration to the rights and wellbeing of children and young people when formulating its Strategic, Operating and Local Plans, enhanced by the appropriate impact assessment mechanisms. For consistency across Scotland we recommend the use of CRWIA's at a local level as the Framework is implemented.

HM Fire Service Inspectorate will use the strategic priorities contained within the Framework to inform future inspection planning.

CRWIA Declaration


Policy lead

Iain Harron,

Fire & Rescue Unit,

Safer Communities

Date: 1 September 2021

Deputy Director or equivalent

Wendy Wilkinson,

Deputy Director,

Safer Communities

Date: 1 September 2021



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