Foreword by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner
I stood as Police and Crime Commissioner in 2016 to make Northamptonshire safer.
I stated during the campaign in 2016 that I believed pursuing the change of governance of the fire and rescue service from Northamptonshire County Council to the Police and Crime Commissioner was in the best interests of the communities of the county.
On taking office, I continued to work closely with the County Council and the Fire and Rescue Service to develop a business case to change the governance and therefore, after a lot of hard work by all involved, I am delighted to be presenting to you the very first Fire and Rescue Plan for Northamptonshire.
I want to make it very clear that the change of governance is not about merging with the police, nor is it about building an empire. I truly believe that through closer working between the two services, better service can be delivered to keep our communities safe.
I know that view is shared by our Chief Fire Officer. The County Council have performed the role of the Fire and Rescue Authority admirably
in very trying financial circumstances. Nonetheless, the legacy I inherit is one of under-investment in the service, both in terms of firefighting and in the necessary infrastructure such as buildings and vehicles that enable an effective service to be delivered. This legacy is not one that I can change overnight but is something that I will address over the life of this plan.
My key first priority is to stabilise the budget of fire and rescue, stopping the further cuts that would have been inevitable within the county council environment. I will also begin to invest in the necessary capital programme to ensure that the equipment and buildings
that firefighters use to keep you safe is fit for purpose. I believe that the service have done an amazing job in keeping the public safe through years of cuts to their budget. I will, over time, begin to reinvest in the service to ensure that the performance of the organisation continues to go from strength to strength.
I will also be working with the Chief Fire Officer and the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police to begin to develop opportunities for closer working between the services. Notably I intend to have a single estates strategy for the two organisations, wish to see a joint enabling services covering aspects such as finance and human
resources, and also wish the two chiefs to bring forward operational opportunities to better share information and deliver services to the communities we all serve.
I am really pleased to present this first plan for consultation.
Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire
Foreword by the Chief Fire Officer
I am very proud to be writing this introduction as the first Chief Fire Officer of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service under new our Governance arrangements.
This significant and historic change is the culmination of 3 years of hard work by officers within the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (OPFCC) and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS). As such I am very much looking forward to working with the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and his office in order
to deliver our strategic vision of “Making Northamptonshire Safer”.
The change of Governance aims to provide NFRS with a stable financial basis on which to plan for the long term whilst also increasing transparency and accountability to the public in line with the Government’s Fire reform agenda, all of which will help us to provide a better service to the people of the County. Therefore the focus of this plan will be to develop a Fire Service for the future.
In order to do this we need to take into account the changing nature of the County both in terms of growth and infrastructure and also in terms of the proposed new local government structure. In addition a key focus of this plan will be partnership and in particular working with Northamptonshire Police in order to work on ways in which we can share buildings and services in order to provide a more efficient service to the public. All of which will allow us to re-invest in front line services, an area that has seen significant cuts in recent years under the previous Fire Authority.
In addition we will also need to deliver continuous improvement taking into account the outcomes of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) inspection of the service, which was completed in late 2018 with the final report being available in June 2019.
This will be challenging and will involve some significant change to the way we operate and do our business. However it also presents us with a once in a generation opportunity to re-shape our organisation to better serve the communities of Northamptonshire.
This is an incredibly exciting time and working together with the PFCC, our staff and partners we are confident that we can develop a Fire Service for the future and deliver on our aim of “Making Northamptonshire Safer”.
Chief Fire Officer
Statement of Intent
1. The key focus for Fire and Rescue will be stabilisation of budgets and activities to begin to reinvest in frontline service delivery for Fire and Rescue to best meet current and emerging risks, as well as providing funding for investing in a sustainable capital programme to ensure that Firefighters have the equipment they need to perform their roles.
2. Ensure that Fire and Rescue can continue to be community-focused and have the appropriate resources to ensure delivery of their core emergency role.
3. Review the estate for Fire and Rescue in conjunction with the policing estate with the view to sharing buildings to maintain and increase emergency services presence in localities. This will include a new shared Headquarters at Wootton Hall.
4. Seek to bring together support services for police and fire and rescue to improve the effectiveness of the support to the frontline.
5. Build on existing collaborations between fire and rescue and other
organisations in relation to community prevention and protection to help make
6. Respond to and invest in to the areas of greatest risk outlined in the Integrated Risk Management Plan to better protect communities.
7. Explore the opportunity to bring fire and rescue and police control rooms together over the medium term.
8. Develop opportunities for income generation within Fire and Rescue to reinvest in frontline service delivery.
9. Engage with the public on matters related to the fire and rescue service to help
shape better services for the communities we serve.
10. Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and Northamptonshire Police
will not merge. Each will retain their separate skills, uniforms and leadership including separate Chief Officers.
The mission for this Plan is to:
• Prevent fires and other emergencies to keep people safe
• Protect the public
• Stabilise the organisation
Underpinning this should be a culture of continuous improvement that fosters learning
within and between organisations to best serve the people of Northamptonshire.
We should ensure the wellbeing of staff who do a difficult job so that they are better able to protect the public and deliver what is required of them.
Plan on a Page
Keeping Our Communities Safe and Well
The activities under the areas of focus will be driven by the risk information within the Integrated Risk Management Plan and the ambition to improve service to the public.
The latest Plan is found here.
Making the Best Use of Resources
Emergency Services Integration
There is a statutory duty to collaborate for the three emergency services. This means that the services should be actively seeking opportunities to work together to deliver more efficient and effective public services. In Northamptonshire we have gone further by bringing police and fire and rescue under my governance as the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.
My business case to take on the governance for fire and rescue was clear that I expected to see integration between police and fire and rescue to reinvest in frontline services. It is my expectation that the following areas will be delivered during the life of this plan:
Shared Enabling Services
It does not make sense that both police and fire and rescue have their own support services such as finance, human resources, ICT or facilities management. These services are essential to any organisation but do not require separate functions. I believe that by bringing enabling services together I can ensure a more effective service is provided
to the frontlines of both organisations, providing them with the information they need, when they need it to make better decisions. I expect to see significant progress over the life of this plan.
Shared Estates Strategy
Together police and fire and rescue have in excess of 50 buildings. In many cases the two buildings are located in the same town within metres of each other. Every penny that is spent on maintaining the buildings is not spent on frontline services. Therefore it is my intention to develop a shared estates strategy that will reduce the duplication
of buildings in the same locations so that police and fire colleagues increasingly share buildings.
A key part of the strategy will be to redevelop the Wootton Hall headquarters site to be a fit for purpose headquarters for both services, including seeking to develop a shared control room. Included in this redevelopment will be opportunities for ambulance to also co-locate.
Shared Prevention Approaches
The most vulnerable in our communities are vulnerable to more than one thing. I want to see the Chief Constable and Chief Fire Officer bring forward a new prevention strategy and plan across the two organisations to best support the most vulnerable in our communities.
Police, fire and rescue and ambulance have been working on various interoperability matters since 2013. I want to see this activity increased over the life of the plan and expect to see further ideas brought forward by police and fire and rescue, involving ambulance as appropriate, to provide more efficient and effective services to the public.
Whilst there will be a presumption over collaborating with police and/or ambulance as a starting point, this does not preclude other collaborations.
Other agencies in Northamptonshire
Fire and Rescue will continue to play an active role in the Local Resilience Forum and community safety partnerships in the county working with local authorities and other agencies to keep people safe.
The service will also work with partners to best prepare for local government reorganisation to ensure that the communities we serve receive the best possible service.
Collaboration with other Fire and Rescue Services
Whilst over the medium term there is a desire to bring police and fire and rescue control rooms together in Northamptonshire that will be considered and planned so that it has the least impact on the existing collaborations. Nothing will be done without working closely with Warwickshire Fire and Rescue, with whom there is a fallback relationship and it is intended that, in the medium term, that will continue.
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue already plays a role in matters of national emergency. Existing mutual aid relationships (whereby services support each other in the event of a major incident) will be retained to ensure that Northamptonshire plays it part in national
emergencies and has support from other services when they need it.
The government produces a National Framework for Fire and Rescue and this Plan both responds to and reflects the requirements of that Framework. Locally the developments in the service will also be mindful of the national fire reform agenda and seek to ensure that the very best practice is brought to the county.
Holding to Account and Scrutiny
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner is required, on behalf of the public, to hold the Chief Fire Officer to account for the delivery of an efficient and effective fire and rescue service.
Holding the Chief Fire Officer to Account
I meet regularly informally with the Chief Fire Officer to provide oversight and to discuss the strategic direction of the organisation. I formally hold the Chief Fire Officer to account through a bi-monthly Accountability Board. The meetings are minuted and this information will be put onto my website to ensure transparency of this formal process.
A detailed performance framework will be developed based on the outcome measures expressed within the Integrated Risk Management Plan. I will publish this information on a quarterly basis. In addition, I use national assessments including Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services reports to assess relative performance of the service. I will also ensure that the service adheres to the duties described in the Equality Act 2010, including the need to publish specified information. I will have a similar process and set of expectations for the Chief Constable in my role as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.
Scrutiny of My Role
The Police, Fire and Crime Panel are there to scrutinise decisions I take. I will ensure that I work positively with the Panel to ensure that decisions and the reasons for them are transparent and that the Panel has the opportunity to scrutinise my decisions. I will continue to build on the positive working relationship I have with the Panel as I take on
the additional responsibilities in relation fire and rescue.