Fire Accountability Board Minutes 10 November 2020
PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)
Nicci Marzec (NM)
Paul Fell (PF)
Louise Sheridan (LS)
Stuart McCartney (SMc)
CFO Darren Dovey (DD)
ACFO Shaun Hallam (SH)
Area Manager Phil Pells (PP)
Scott Richards (SR)
Lisa Bryan (LB)
Apologies were accepted from ACFO Rob Porter
Minutes and Actions from previous meeting
SM welcomed everyone to the meeting.
The minutes from the previous meeting were approved.
Relevant updates on any outstanding actions were provided and the Action Log updated.
Marauding terrorist and Major Incident Response
Marauding terrorist and Major Incident Response
Following the Grenfell Tower Fire and the Manchester Arena bombing there has been some scrutiny of the London and Greater Manchester Fire Services in terms of their response at those scenes.
Whilst it is accepted that the findings of the inquiries into these two incidents is not complete the Commissioner requires a level of assurance relating to the planned responses to this type of incident by Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The report should articulate what the pre-planned responses to such incidents looks like in the County, how these fit with other Emergency services and should highlight any concerns or risks foreseen by the Chief Fire Officer.
Phil Pells, Area Manager and Head of Operations provided an overview of the work that has been done to ensure NFRS are sufficiently prepared, and able to respond to major incidents within Northamptonshire, including those involving acts of terrorism.
Government money has been provided to Fire and Rescue Services to enhance resilience to develop a Marauding Terrorist Attack (MTA) capability although Northants Fire and Rescue Service has not received funding.
MTA teams form part of national resilience delivered through lead authority arrangements.
PP explained that post London Bridge and other terror related attacks, the MTA concept has been reviewed and changes are expected.
NFRS has invested in a cadre of National Inter-agency Liaison Officers, (NILO’s) and has fully adopted JESIP principles.
NFRS NILO’s work proactively to support local police and Counter Terrorism policing around intelligence led operations as part of PURSUE. They are issued with police airwave devices; this is notable best practice and the only such arrangement in the UK.
The Joint Command Unit (JCU) and respective control rooms provide the on scene and remote incident management.
The Commissioner commended the report and the work that Phil Pells as the National Fire Chief’s Council’s national lead has done in this area.
The Commissioner confirmed his ambition for a joint Control Room as well as driving the benefits and enhancements that the ESN Programme will deliver
The Commissioner asked the Chief Fire Officer if he is content that NFRS is properly ready to deal with any major incident.
The Chief Fire Officer confirmed that NFRS are as prepared and capable as can be.
The Chief Fire Officer reiterated the point that NFRS do not have an MTA team but have developed some in house capability that is not funded. He is also mindful that the FBU do not consider responses to terror related incidents as part of the firefighter’s role map.
Training could be enhanced if there was a national product for terror response’s i.e. a learning refresher for all firefighters which included general awareness and what might happen if you get mobilised to an incident that turns out to be a terrorist related one.
The Commissioner asked when was the last time NFRS carried out an exercise to test capability.
The Chief Fire Officer confirmed the Service have completed some ‘no notice exercises’ during Covid. He is keen to do more and is in talks with the police about a joint exercise in due course.
Key focus will be on communication – between services in a way that can be understood – as that’s the bits in examples like Manchester that went wrong.
The Commissioner asked what the position is relating to Multi Agency Training, how often does it take place and if there is a timetable for these.
The Chief Fire Officer has rolled out Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) training with NFRS but the ability for EMAS to release staff for a commander course has always been a problem. The planned course was delayed again due to Covid and it is unlikely that EMAS will be able to release their staff until the Spring 2021.
Some ‘Tall building’ exercises were completed at beginning of the year and are now embedded in the LRF.
The Commissioner offered his help in bringing EMAS to Multi Agency Training.
Assurance statement – MTFA and major incident response paper
The Commissioner received this paper and was assured that Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue service had done all that it was at this point possible for them to do in order to respond effectively to a range of potential terrorist or major incidents.
He was both assured and pleased that both NFRS and Northamptonshire Police had adopted the principles of The Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) and that having a shared Fire and Police Joint Operations Team supported this. He welcomed the fact that NFRS was involved at a national level in supporting the agenda for some of this work, notably in some specialist roles.
He encouraged the Chief Fire Officer in conjunction with the Chief Constable to ensure that joint agency training and operations took place where appropriate and possible, to include the scoping around a joint Fire and Police control room function.
Prevention and Protection approaches
Prevention and Protection approaches
In previous reports to the accountability board the Commissioner has received updates in relation to Protection and Prevention activity as part of other matters.
The Commissioner requested a report specifically in relation to these two areas and, an overview of the resources and activity from NFRS that contribute to the delivery of protection and prevention. In the light of early observations from the Grenfell Inquiry, he would like to know how any planned increase in this area is incorporated into the wider organisation.
Scott Richards provided an update on Protection activity.
Capacity and staffing were covered in the report and accepted as read.
SR had previously presented a full briefing on the Risk Based Inspection Programme (RBIP) in January.
Higher risk and Higher priority premises within the County have been identified and there was a plan to inspect these over the next three years.
However due to delays because of Covid and lockdown they have been focussing more attention on emerging risk such as care homes, schools and Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO’s).
SR has started a trial using his qualified protection officers to provide general awareness to staff who can then feedback any risk-based intelligence when out of the station. This involves getting crews to start protection checks in a non-specialist capacity
There was a discussion about HMO’s of which there are over 3000 in county.
It was noted that HMO’s, if not properly managed, present a risk to life.
Fire protection responsibility for HMO’s sits with the landlord or owner.
Unknown and unlicensed HMO’s present the highest risk as these are more likely to be the ones which do not adhere to Fire Protection standards.
Identifying and targeting these HMO’s are where the expertise of the Fire Protection Officers can be put to best use.
Accepting that the RBIP has been delayed due to Covid, the Commissioner asked when Sr expects this activity to re-start.
SR confirmed the three-year RBIP was due to start in April but is about to restart.
Put all attention on emerging risk – care homes, schools. Reviewed in line with current threat using resources in an effective way.
Paid attention to right places. Some of building in RBIP were low risk.
Capacity to do more targeted inspection on high risk such as HMOS. Better use of resource. Training is less and can be kept up to date more easily. Targeted to risk.
Now has three additional inspection officers, once fully trained they will be able to go into more high-risk buildings and crews can do lower risk work.
SR confirmed the number of risks in the County is proportional to the resources available.
Lisa Bryan provided an update on the targeted work her team are doing to deliver the agreed prevention priorities.
Lisa gave an overview of the Prevention Strategy Triangle to explain how NFRS aligns its resources to the prevention risk identified.
Where the level of risk is higher, then a more specialist, tailored response is provided.
Targeted engagement by crews covers the middle tier of the triangle, whilst a universal offer is available in the lowest risk category and includes information, guidance, toolkits, local and social media campaigns and seasonal messaging.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic NFRS reduced delivery of all but the highest risk proactive prevention activities.
Partnership work has also continued to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable in our communities.
Other work has accelerated, including telephone consultations for home safety advice.
There was a discussion about ‘Safer streets’ work which has generated some good information around HMO’s along with a 50% hit rate from people who wanted tailored fire risk advice.
The Commissioner asked if information uncovered in the course of prevention activities was share with the police.
Lisa confirmed that top of the matrix risks which would be shared, particularly activities linked to gangs, drugs and Domestic Violence. Similarly, police will share concerns around cluttered/chaotic homes and where there are drug and alcohol issues.
There was a discussion about the new communications posts.
The Commissioner is keen to use the new Comms team more to promote the prevention work being done by NFRS.Action – The Commissioner requested further information on the volumes of information shared between NFRS and the force to ensure both resources not doubling up on support.
Action DD to link in with Deborah Denton and include a piece of work on how much work goes into preventing fires taking place.Assurance Statement – Protection and Prevention Paper
The Commissioner received this paper and was assured by the innovative approach that at times was being displayed by NFRS relating to inspections of premises at locations known to carry the highest levels of risk, utilising station-based staff as a part of this approach.
The Commissioner was also reassured by the approaches being considered and adopted in terms of delivering continued prevention visits during the period of the Covid 19 pandemic to high risk locations and individuals.
Covid -19 second wave
NFRS has once again been asked to support EMAS with ambulance driving.
They have also been asked to help with the movement of the deceased from hospitals to a temporary mortuary should this become necessary.
The Chief Fire Officer confirmed the FBU are supportive locally. He will keep the Commissioner updated.