Fire Accountability Board Minutes 14 September 2021
PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)
Paul Fell (PF)
Helen King (HK)
Louise Sheridan (LS)
ACO Paul Bullen (PB)
CFO Darren Dovey (DD)
Area manager Kerry Blair (KB)
Apologies were accepted from: ACFO’s Shaun Hallam, Robin Porter, ACO Paul Bullen & Nicci Marzec
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
NFRS Performance update
The Commissioner requires a report of the performance against the measures and metrics contained within the IRMP. This report as per the usual quarterly reports should demonstrate the current position and three-year trend data and analysis.
The NFRS performance update was provided by Area Manager, Kerry Blair.
Challenge with trend data is taking out the effects of the covid pandemic to give an accurate view of performance.
As more restriction ease will see more time spent at work and less time at home
Primary and secondary fires
The long-term trend shows that primary fires are decreasing but are now starting to increase back to pre-Covid numbers.
This is attributed to rises in non-domestic fires as commercial and industrial operation re-open after Covid closures.
There has been a slight rise in accidental dwelling fires and this is attributed to more people burning rubbish at home when the refuse centres were closed during lockdown.
This will be closely monitored over the coming months.
Deliberate primary fires are reducing over time as are deliberate secondary fires, however, the Service saw a rise in deliberate secondary fires in Q1 2020/21; again, largely attributed to household and domestic waste due to the closure of refuse centres.
The long-term trend for Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs) shows a reduction; however, when 2020/21 Covid year is taken out this produces a flatter line and is representative of what has been seen nationally.
RTC’s rose when lock down restrictions were eased and NFRS have increased their prevention and education activities in response.
Overall staff sickness is reducing with a spike in sickness less which corelates with the national Covid-19 spike.
The stated aim in the IRMP is to maintain a minimum number of 14 fire appliances to support our strategic response capability.
The Service improved its appliance availability over the last 3 years with a considerable increase during lockdown which is now levelling off.
KB is looking at comparative data with other Services to see where performance is and any conclusions we might draw from our family group and our HMICFRS group.
The Service still operates over 18 appliances for both flexi and non-flexi crewing although June and July show a slight dip due to summer leave.
Response times were not included in the report.
This will be corrected in future reports to the Accountability Board as this is a core statistic.
KB advised that the long-term trends look good but does not know how the response times compare with other Fire and Rescue Services.
This will be reviewed and reported at the December Accountability Board.
Home Fire Safety visits
The Prevention team are adding additional detail to their activities this financial year therefore the data available will evolve over time.
The commissioner was keen to understand what comparative data is available from other Fire and Rescue Services.
With the decline in the long-term trend for both primary and secondary fires it is important that the Service can demonstrate value for money; particularly as the local taxpayer is being asked to pay more in council tax contributions.
There was a discussion about what fire fighters should be doing when not fighting fires.
The Chief Fire Officer confirmed that there has been a slight uptick on Home Fire Safety Checks (was 150 per month now 400 per month in July and august – more people are willing to have in house)
Some stations are really proactive and other that are less so.
Part of the Covid Recovery plan is to get more stations out conducting these checks and increase the number of Safe and Well checks.
The Covid Recovery Plan is managed via the Covid Recovery Group and forms part of the HMICFRS plan
Action – It was agreed that either Shaun Hallam or Kev Hardwick will take the Commissioner through the Covid Recovery plan.
There was a discussion about retained crews and changes to legislation for them to maintain their competency (currently 3 hours per week but will increase)
One option would be to use them at weekends to do Home Fire Safety checks which would also have the added benefit of increased appliance availability.
There was a discussion about the optimum duty system.
The number of retirements planned in the next 18 months suggests this the right time to revisit the duty system and review.
Part of the next RMP will be to review working practices, our emergency response and how best to resource it.
It was agreed that a presentation on Operational Guidance would be beneficial and this should be added to a future Accountability Board agenda.
There was a discussion about the base budget for NFRS. Helen King continues to keep the pressure on finding a way to get more money into the base budget permanently as there are still some big shortfalls to find.
The shift system is on the NFRS Savings Plan and is a priority.
The Commissioner received a quarterly update in relation to the performance of NFRS, focused on the outcomes articulated in the IRMP.
Generally, the figures and demand were showing signs of return to pre Covid lockdown levels.
The Commissioner was assured that in most areas, performance was in the right direction, meaning that residents were safer.
He did lead a discussion in relation to pro-activity of NFRS staff on matters such as Home Fire Safety Checks. While accepting that these were now increasing, he was looking for further assurance that all stations and all watches were fully engaged in this process.
Capital Investment Plan update
The Commissioner has previously agreed a capital investment plan with the Chief Fire Officer.
He requests a report that outlines the progress that has been made against this plan to the point in the year. This report need not be limited to but should include:
Progress on projected spend against the agreed capital investment plan.
Progress against the delivery of agreed capital investments plans
Assistant Chief Officer Paul Bullen provided an update.
The current capital programme was approved in May 2021 from an iteration in February which was used to inform the 2021/22 budget.
There has been very limited spend so far this year across the capital programme and it is unlikely that the entirety of the capital programme will be spent in 2021/22.
The global shortage of IT hardware and vehicles due to the Covid 19 pandemic continue to impact of delivery however there is now greater confidence that fleet equipment budgets are on track to deliver.
Most likely are to deliver broadly to budget.
The large spend new Type B appliances and aerial appliance are both into the build phase and remain on track for delivery.
Delivery of other vehicles will be dependent on lead times.
Notable delays in the procurement of new station shower facilities and the garage workshop have impacted this budget the most.
Both are now progressing more positively.
Other areas of the estate such as the conditions survey have become more complex; this is now planned into a deliverable programme of works albeit it has taken longer than anticipated to get started.
The biggest spend in this area is for the control room replacement systems.
It is anticipated that the control room contract will be awarded in January 2022.
Spend in the capital programme has been limited to date and the year-end forecast will be updated over the next two months as plans for future years are developed to inform the budget setting process.
Way to get greater momentum on the capital spend will be considered during the process to ensure projects get to a timely start at the beginning of the year and maintain momentum throughout.
It is anticipated that PB will know what is needed in the capital budget next year by November.
The Commissioner asked if there was a plan for the future of the Chelveston site and whether we should be looking for a site that could be acquired rather than leased.
The Commissioner also asked about the plan for the new fire appliances.
The Chief Fire Officer confirmed Lem Freezer, Head of Joint Transport and Logistics, Transport Travel and Procurement has a utilisation and familiarisation plan.
Expecting delivery in early December.
There is still some work to be done on the disposal plan for the four older appliances. This will be agreed at the next Capital meeting.
The Commissioner noted progress against this plan; a number of areas that were on track; and some signs of slippage in others.
The Commissioner accepted that some of the issues, such as hardware delivery were somewhat out of the controls of NFRS and resulted from the worldwide shortage of microchips and disruptions in the supply chain.
The Commissioner while satisfied at this point, stressed that he was looking for the Chief Fire Officer to ensure that resources were in place to provide deliverable solutions for the agreed capital investment plan.