The Welsh Ministers have a role in the strategic direction of the fire and rescue services in Wales. Under section 21 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 (the 2004 Act), the Welsh Ministers must prepare and keep under review a Fire and Rescue National Framework, and may revise it after consultation. The Framework must set out priorities and objectives for fire and rescue authorities, and may contain guidance in connection with the discharge of their functions and other matters relating to fire and rescue authorities.
The Framework has effect only when brought into force by the Welsh Ministers by order. The current framework is the Fire and Rescue National Framework for Wales 2016, which replaced the previous Framework published in 2012 (see the Fire and Rescue Services (National Framework) (Wales) Order and the Fire and Rescue Services (National Framework) (Wales) (Revision) (No.2) Order).
Fire and rescue authorities must have regard to the National Framework in carrying out their functions (section 21(7) of the 2004 Act) and the Auditor General for Wales may carry out an inspection of an authority’s compliance with this requirement (see the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009, section 24).
The Welsh Ministers must (under section 25 and 62(2)) issue a report on the extent to which fire and rescue authorities are acting in accordance with the Framework and on any steps taken by the Welsh Ministers for the purpose of securing that fire and rescue authorities act in accordance with it. Under section 22, the Welsh Ministers have power to order the authority to take certain steps if they consider that the authority is failing, or likely to fail, to act in accordance with the Framework.
Under section 26 of the 2004 Act, fire and rescue authorities must, when required by the Welsh Ministers, give any reports, returns and information in respect of their functions.