The minutes from the previous meeting were approved.
Relevant updates on any outstanding actions were provided and the Action Log updated.
HK gave an overview of the provisional financial outturn for NCFRA for the period 1 January to 31 March 2019, together with an update on the Opening balance sheet agreement with NCC and the first NCFRA Statement of Accounts for the period.
HK advised that the opening balance sheet has almost finalised, however, fire are undertaking a review of potential S106 transfers to ascertain what can be reasonably progressed within the period. Rob Porter anticipates this will be completed in the coming weeks. This included the need to assess any potential liability for S106 funding that had been received, not spent and might need to be returned.
SM requested the position be finalised within 4 weeks.
ACTION: R Porter to risk assess the S106 allocations to enable a view to be taken on the financial exposure facing the PFCC.
HK outlined that some housekeeping needed to be undertaken regularly by Fire Budget Holders in respect of purchase orders to ensure budgets are accurately reflected.
HK also highlighted the significant variances on the ICT budget and advised that Jelena Motte would be supporting Fire Budget Holders further to ensure accurate financial reporting moving forwards.
ACTION – Jelena Motte to attend the Fire SLT meeting to brief further on the position.
HK outlined that the provisional outturn showed that reserves are envisaged to be at least £200k more than planned at the time of the budget. Whilst the financial position of NCFRA remains one of needing to secure additional reserves, this places the organisation in a slightly stronger position than previously anticipated.
HK outlined how this aligns with the External Audit considerations for a going concern.
HK advised that the business rates position for 2019/20 was now available and it is envisaged that this, together with the additional pensions grant, will place NCFRA in a more positive position in 20-19/20 than previously thought.
DD highlighted that the estates costs will be an impact and DD and HK will review the budget allocations after the first quarter for the commissioners consideration.
ACTION – DD and HK to review the budget allocations after first quarter.
DD gave a presentation which explained the duty systems employed by NFRS and the changes that have implemented over last 5 years.
As previously discussed, daytime cover remains an issue, from retained firefighters
DD considering increased rates of pay to bolster retained coverage during the day with requirement for them to undertake more prevention work.
DD explained the ‘whole time’ shift pattern (two days, two nights, four days off) which has operational advantages but can be inflexible and reduce resilience.
DD advised that there have been several attempts nationally at different patterns including a 5 watch system with grey days and more recently two x 12 hour shifts and self-rostering. Changes made locally are around better planning for central training. This was implemented on 1st January 2019.
ACTION – DD to send through information on a High Court challenge in South Yorkshire and Hereford and Worcester that was referred to a Technical Advisory Panel (TAP)
DD advised that he has responded to the Draft HMICFRS Inspection
Has challenged some of the grading’s and some factual inaccuracies. (50 pages of corrections).
Report will be published in June
Two Action Plans have been in place since January relating to day time fire cover and maintenance of competence.
DD is confident that when HMICFRS come back in June he will be able to show improved fire cover with longer term plan to increase daytime cover overall.
Currently maintaining minimum cover approx. +90% of time and dealt with two large fires in past two weeks whilst maintaining strategic firecover (Sywell & Kettering)
It was agreed that DD would write case studies for both fires for HMICFRS and help address what they found in November versus what is happening now.
DD provided an update on Howdens who have successfully helped them to recruit a dozen retained Firefighters
DD also provided an update on Repel software which runs the retained programme. This system is not ideal in situations where retained firefighters want to book as unavailable for short periods of time during a day. IMSG looking at other solutions and new apps that have been developed and provide greater flexibility for both retained and wholetime rota management.
ACTION – DD to write up case study on Sywell and Kettering. Both incidents took place in the daytime. Evidence that capable of maintaining fire cover.
DD also provided an update on firefighter training. Has changed duty system so that every seven weeks overstaffed releasing firefighters for courses. No longer cancelled due to cover issues.
Also resolved issues on Red Kite – Implemented a number of improvements to processes and implemented audits.
BA backlog is down to 20 will be up-to-date by end of July.
ACTION – Need a communications plan for when HMICFRS report is released. (Important to note that the NFRS is not an outlier within family group. Anna Rittler to draft and share with Deborah Denton).
Action – Requirement for stronger links between plans and efficiencies. DD to prepare a list to give to Zoe Billingham to discuss what has been moderated. i.e. response times in other services example