The core of the law relating to fire and rescue services is found in the primary legislation (or 'statutes') listed under 'key legislation'. There are powers to make orders, rules and regulations relating to local government under these enactments. Certain matters are left to be prescribed by order or regulations.
The legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales is set out in the Government of Wales Act 2006 (“GOWA 2006”), as amended by the Wales Act 2017.
The law in relation to fire and rescue services in Wales is generally devolved to the National Assembly for Wales. However there are some reservations to be aware of, The subject matter of Part 1 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is reserved, this includes process fire precautions, fire precautions in relation to petroleum and petroleum spirit, and fire safety on ships and hovercraft, in mines and offshore installations. All other aspects of fire safety in Wales, including regulation and prohibition are within the legislative competence of the Assembly.
Devolution of executive power
Government of Wales Act 1998 provided for the transfer of functions from UK government ministers to the National Assembly for Wales (“the Assembly”). Under GOWA 2006, those functions were transferred from the National Assembly for Wales to the Welsh Ministers. The Welsh Ministers now exercise the majority of the executive and subordinate legislative powers in relation to local government, whether those powers are conferred by an Act of the Assembly or an Act of the UK Parliament.
As the result of the transfer of functions, statutes that were enacted prior to the commencement of GOWA 2006 (in May 2007) should be read with care. References to 'the Secretary of State' will in most, but not all, cases now mean 'the Welsh Ministers' in their application in relation to Wales. Where functions were conferred expressly on the National Assembly for Wales in Acts of the UK Parliament between 1999 and 2007, the functions should be read as being exercisable by the Welsh Ministers.
Legislation passed following the enactment of GOWA2006 that confers functions on the Secretary of State and the Welsh Ministers often refers to those bodies collectively as 'the appropriate national authority'. A function exercisable by the appropriate national authority in relation to Wales is usually exercisable by the Welsh Ministers.