Fire services have been neglected in discussions of public service provision in rural areas. The way in which they are provided has a broader significance in terms of current debates about risk management. Fire service policy was transferred away from the Home Office, but the Bain Report provided the major stimulus to change. Early central government attempts to stimulate fire service provision in rural area were hampered by a lack of cooperation between local authorities. Rates of death from fire are influenced by attendance times and are particularly high in remote rural areas. The development of national standards of fire cover was focused on protecting property rather than saving lives with disproportionate funding being provided for urban areas. Social changes in rural areas have made it more difficult to secure sufficient numbers of retained fire fighters. It has proved particularly difficult to provide an adequate service in remote rural areas such as the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, despite recent policy initiatives there. Problems of providing fire cover are particularly acute on isolated islands. The development of integrated risk management plans should offer a more fine grained approach to providing fire cover. However, they may be too sophisticated for the task in rural areas and more traditional democratic mechanisms for expressing perceived community needs may have a greater relevance
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