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 on the draft budget report and advised on the following as S151 for NCFRA:
The budget report was largely the same as the December Accountability Board budget report, accompanied by an update report produced following the provisional settlement.
SM asked if the panel docs and MTFP would reflect the updated position. HK advised that they would, and also hopefully include the discussion on priorities which will shortly take place.
On the face of it the provisional settlement, which had now been received, looked better than forecast by circa £250K.
Additionally, the final taxbase notification had also been received and this also looked slightly better than forecast.
HK advised that this was still provisional as the local business rates information could affect this position as it does have a significant impact. (NB: Since the meeting, Corby CT Surplus had also been received and this was more favourable than previously anticipated; previously a deficit had been assumed).
HK advised that it was unlikely that the final settlement would be available nationally before the panel date and therefore, it was likely that the PFCC would need to consider proposing a precept at 1.99%, as if an increase to £5 was included in the final settlement, this could be after the precept had been set. The panel report would reflect this uncertainty.
The main area of concern and uncertainty were the asset strategies and the capital programme estimates, as the revenue implications of these would significantly affect the position. DD and PB were reviewing these and would then share with NA and HK to cost, they would then be discussed on the 16th when they meet with HK and NA.
HK sought to manage expectations by advising that the financials will take time to complete after the priorities had been considered, particularly if changes needed to be made, alternative scenarios costed and the impact on the revenue budget considered
All investment and capital requests are to be captured for SM so all capital and revenue requests can be considered together.
SM highlighted his concern at the value on the capital programme
DD advised that he has prioritised them and these will be reviewed and costed with HK and NA.
Whilst there is some flexibility on grants, HK advised that business cases need to be produced to do this and asked that assumptions to spend S106 and grants are not taken forward without discussion with HK and SM. As by using these funds to meet some costs, for example in the capital programme could be more cost efficient than by meeting an in year revenue pressure.
HK advised there are less than a handful of posts which have never been on a formally agreed establishment but which are being paid for and which need to be highlighted and transparently built into the establishment for SM to approve and get in the base budget moving forwards. These would be added to the priority list if not already included.
Action – HK and DD to work through last few posts which are not part of the formal establishment so that Sm can approve the base budget.
HK advised that the budget was extremely tight and it was likely not all priorities could be accommodated. SM advised that he is currently minded not to allocate any additional funding until the work on capital and priorities has been concluded and the local rates position for 20/21 finalised, so that DD could advise on final prioritised position.
SM and HK advised that it appeared that spending on Fire had increased since October and HK was concerned with the impact this was showing on the draft November monitoring.
Action – HK and DD to sit down and review increased spend since October 2019 to understand what this looked like.
DD queried whether this was possibly due to spending on ring fenced items
HK advised this was possible, however, expenditure had increased across a large number of Fire budgets, not just the ring fenced areas which had spending approved and that this was having an impact on the projected outturn.
SM approved the NCFRA budget pending final settlement, local business rates and work on the local priorities and capital programme.
SM felt that there had been a much better understanding of the budget and the budget process for 20/21 than 19/20 and this knowledge and understanding would develop further for 21/22.
SM very grateful to DD and his team for taking this forward and thanked all for their work on the budget.
PP provided an update on NFRS’ response and preparedness for residential high-rise incidents following the publication of Phase 1 of the Grenfell report.
Since 14th June 2017, NFRS has attended seven fire incidents in residential high-rise buildings.
Northamptonshire has 24 residential high-rise buildings (over 18 metres in height). All 24 confirmed not to have ACM cladding.
22 out of the 24 residential high-buildings have “Stay Put” guidance
Two buildings have been identified as having defects which may lead to fire spread through compartments.
Contingency has been put in place and the building owners have instigated a “waking watch” with 24/7 security provision to detect and assist early evacuation.
NFRS continue to work with the building owners as repair work and mitigation is undertaken.
PP confirmed that a Gold Group was set up post Grenfell and they have been working in the background to identify and or discharge any risks
Despite the time lag waiting for the recommendations and any changes to national guidelines, he is content that the work that have been undertaken in the background has identified or discharged any known risks.
Risk identified around FCR training in Fire control. PP looking at how controllers could be trained to respond should a high-rise incident occur.
PP confirmed all NFRS firefighters are receiving additional training in high-rise procedures and how fire behaves in high rises
Action – PP and PF will review a gap analysis provided in response to Grenfell Phase 1 report and present to the Accountability Board when the report is finalised.
There was a discussion about smoking hoods which cost £70 each. London Fire Service have used these hoods 28 times since Grenfell and they have undoubtedly saved lives. (Carbon monoxide inhalation from smoke).
PP and PF to review and discuss if high-rise building owners would sponsor with hoods being retained by NFRS for safekeeping and easy deployment.
Information boxes sited in premises were also discussed. Cost is around £1000 per box which is sited in the foyer of a high-rise building. The boxes contain building evacuation plans and site drawings. These are recorded on mapping so that crews know the information is there. Currently only a handful of high-rise buildings have these.
There was a discussion on “Stay Put” advice.DD confirmed all firefighters presuppose “Stay Put” policy adding that “Stay Put” has been in operation since 1960s. It has been the default position and has worked and stood the test of time until Grenfell.
Since Grenfell there have been in excess of 6000 fires where “stay put” advice has worked. If building is built and managed correctly “stay put” should work. However, London has now changed from “Stay Put” to “Stay Safe”.
Clarification provided was provided on the subject of Firefighter lifts; Building owners have a responsibility to ensure lifts in working order. Responsibility of NFRS to know how to operate them.
There was a discussion around a perceived gap in JESIP training for Police Commanders.
Action – DD will make the chief constable aware of gaps from policing perspective.
There was a discussion around the usage of drones and a joint Drone Usage policy.
Protection arrangements were discussed and a new risk assessment process has been agreed. This new process will be in place for the next three years
IT concerns and issues
DD will send response back to PF. SM will discuss with DD in their 1-2-1 on Friday 10th January.
Action – DD to respond to IT concerns and issues raised by SM so they can be discussed in their 1-2-1 meeting on 10/1/2020