Promoting fire safety - which will help save more lives and reduce injuries from fire - will become a statutory duty for all Fire and Rescue Authorities as the Fire and Rescue Services Bill received Royal Assent on July 22 2004.
The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 also places on a statutory footing other activities the Service has taken on over the last 50 years since the previous legislation was put in place. These go beyond firefighting and include rescue from road traffic accidents, responding to serious environmental disasters and the new terrorist threat.
The Act replaces the Fire Services Act 1947 and will drive forward the Government's modernisation agenda to create a modern and efficient Fire and Rescue Service designed to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.
Fire and Rescue Service Minister Nick Raynsford said:
"This new Act, along with publication of the first Fire and Rescue National Framework and a generous settlement for Fire and Rescue Authorities announced in the 2004 Comprehensive Spending Review, provides the leadership, resources and modern statutory framework we promised to provide. It is now up to Fire and Rescue Authorities to deliver.
"Our main priority is to save more lives and reduce injuries from fire - and the Act paves the way towards this goal by placing a greater emphasis on fire safety.
"In addition, the important wider role the Service plays to make communities safer - such as dealing with road traffic accidents and responding to the greater threat posed by terrorism and environmental disasters such as serious flooding - will be placed on a proper statutory footing for the first time."
Alan Doig, President of the Chief Fire Officers' Association, added: "CFOA welcomes the new Act which will provide an effective legislative framework for the delivery of a modern fire and service."
The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 also makes clear that fire and rescue authorities can equip and respond to the local risks and particular needs of their communities, for example through medical co-responder schemes or other specialist activities such as rope-rescue or inland water rescue.
The Act makes provision to place the Fire and Rescue National Framework, published earlier this month, on a statutory footing.
A copy of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 can now be found at:
The accompanying Explanatory Notes are also available online here: