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Fire chiefs call for lower drink drive limit and mandatory smoke alarms

Fire services and councils have reiterated their calls for a lower drink drive limit and mandatory smoke alarms in private rented properties to be among the next government’s priorities in its first 100 days.

The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) and the Local Government Association (LGA) released their ‘Making our nation safer’ report earlier this year to call for measures that would both save lives and cut costs, and are launching a fresh push this week ahead of the annual fire conference, which starts in Gateshead tomorrow.

The policy proposals are:

  • Mandatory smoke alarms in private rented properties, and a reduction in stamp duty for properties with sprinklers (either all properties or specifically warehouses)
  • Lower the drink drive limit in England and Wales from 80mg to 50mg per 100ml of blood, as in Scotland, and introduce a graduated driver licensing scheme (these two measures alone would save the public purse £509m and prevent thousands of road accidents, the CFOA says)
  • A requirement for data-sharing between public bodies to protect vulnerable people
  • Flexibility in council tax regimes and changes to referendum rules
  • Flexibility in setting fees, charges and capital receipts
  • An independent body for the distribution of funding to fire & rescue authorities
  • National resilience assets to be centrally funded, with a £114m local fund for capital investment
  • A bigger focus on prevention and a contribution to health and wellbeing

Cllr Jeremy Hilton, who chairs the LGA's Fire Services Management Committee, said: “This country has one of the highest drink drive limits anywhere and the LGA believes that the current limit is simply unacceptable. England is lagging well behind and all other countries cannot be wrong. Saving lives must be a priority for any government and this measure could save up to 170 annually.”

The LGA and CFOA have put together a series of case studies from around the country demonstrating what fire services have been doing to increase road safety, which can be found here.

In their foreword to the report, Cllr Hilton and Peter Dartford, president of the CFOA, say: “This set of proposals will enable the fire and rescue service to continue its good work, take fire prevention and community safety to the next level, and provide additional tools in our armoury to keep communities healthy, safe and resilient, while also saving over £500m.”

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