Report of the Chief Fire Officer
Craig Parkin, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, presented the report which informs the Committee of Service delivery between 1 January and 31 March 2019, with contributions from Mick Sharman and Damian West, both of whom focus upon Service Delivery, including all Response, Protection and Prevention work.
The report includes information on the numbers and types of incidents responded to, prevention and protection work undertaken and on-call availability by station.
Further to the detailed information in the report, the following points were made and responses provided to questions from the committee:
(a) Overall, there were 42 fewer incidents compared to the same period last year but the number of deliberate fires has increased by 130;
(b) On-call availability has increased by 1.26% and whilst the majority of On-call crew stations maintain an availability nearing 90% (one of the highest in the East Midlands), work continues to raise availability, particularly around the Southwell, Ashfield and Retford Stations. It is acknowledged that the On-call system was developed many years ago and that modern living and working is now very different. Nationally it is harder to recruit on-call firefighters, possibly as a reflection that the local nature of much industrial employment no longer exists and people often now travel further to work and can’t get to the fire stations within the required 5 minutes travelling time. Recruitment to the Southwell Station continues to be a particular challenge. The on-going reduction of incidents to respond to, whilst committing availability may also impact on recruitment and retention. However, the need to have firefighters available to respond to incidents within a reasonable time remains vital so at this point. There are new approaches to recruiting On-call firefighters, including a national campaign and website for On-call firefighters;
(c) When not responding, operational crews undertake lower risk Hazard Spotting, which releases capacity for the Protection Team to undertake higher risk checks at businesses within the Services risk based inspection programme. A significant training programme during 2019/20will sees operational crews trained to do Business Safety Checks further increasing the number of non-domestic premises visited by NFRS, with significant issues identified being referred to the Protection Team;
(d) Joint Road Safety Operations with the Police, such as ‘Operation Highway’, are planned throughout the year with NFRS providing education on the potential hazards of not wearing seat belts, speeding, drink driving and inadequate car maintenance. There is a duty to promote road safety and this was one of the points of the HMICFRS inspection with encouragement to increase collaboration and co-ordination with partners, including local councils. As a result, the Service is pursuing further citizen and partner engagement activity;
(e) The Service is fully engaged with national good practice and is able to respond to terrorist attacks as part of its statutory duty to respond but as the breadth of possible attack threat increases, further training has been requested and the Service is working closely with trades unions and staff in this area;
(f) Last year the Service undertook approximately 4,600 Safe and Well Visits but HMICFRS considered this figure to be below average. As there is no standard format for checks, it is unclear how quality may vary between Services and to what extent the most vulnerable individuals in society have been helped, advised and supported. NFRS aims to complete 6,000 this year and continue to increase this amount in forthcoming years.
Members of the Committee requested that, to enable an easy comparison, future reports provide performance information for the previous year.
(1) to note the report;
(2) for Craig Parkin to seek availability and arrange for members of this Committee to visit fire stations later in the year.