How effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
An effective fire and rescue service will identify and assess the full range of foreseeable fire and rescue risks its community faces. It will target its fire prevention and protection activities to those who are at greatest risk from fire. It will make sure businesses comply with fire safety legislation. When the public calls for help, the fire and rescue service should respond promptly with the right skills and equipment to deal with the incident effectively. Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.
It consults widely during the development of its integrated risk management plan (IRMP). But it needs to improve the effectiveness of how it manages risk information. The service communicates its safety information to staff well, but we found no mechanism that showed staff had read it.
The service is good at preventing fires. In particular, it targets safe and well visits towards those who are more vulnerable, and works well with its partner agencies and other organisations to prevent fires.
It is also good at protecting people from fires. It has trained its staff well in this area. It is evident that staff are working hard to reduce the burden of unwanted fire signals. The service should make sure that it is correctly identifying all high-risk premises.
Derbyshire FRS is good at responding to fires and other emergencies. In particular, it has good processes for learning from operational incidents. The service is meeting its standards on response times for the first fire engine that arrives at an incident but needs to improve times for the second. It is meeting its standards for the number of on-call fire engines available.
The service is good at responding to national risks and has recently demonstrated this ability at a number of high-profile incidents.
How well does the FRS understand the risk of fire and other emergencies?
Areas for improvement
- The service should ensure its firefighters have good access to relevant and up-to-date risk information.
All fire and rescue services should identify and assess all foreseeable fire and rescue-related risks. They should also prevent and mitigate these risks.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.
Understanding local and community risk
Derbyshire FRS engages well with a wide range of partner agencies to make sure that they understand risk in the same way.
The service’s current IRMP runs from 2017 to 2021. The IRMP is in line with the expectations of the Fire and Rescue National Framework for England. It identifies the most significant risks that could affect the local community and explains how the service plans to prepare and respond to them. The service uses a wide range of data to develop its risk profile, such as socio-economic data from local authorities, health and welfare data from Public Health England, and flood risk data from the Met Office. The service also uses data it gathers from its own activities.
In producing its latest IRMP, the service consulted extensively with its local communities. It did this in several ways: social media, setting up information stands at local markets and town centres, and leafleting local residents. It visited a school for the deaf to engage with some of the county’s Deaf community. It also held events at community centres and various places of worship to engage with its diverse communities. The service received 302 individual comments through its consultation process. Although this feedback didn’t result in any material change, the service responded to each of them.
The service has decided to renew its current IRMP earlier than planned and intends to have a new plan in place by 2020.
Having an effective risk management plan
The service has an effective system in place to make sure that everybody within the organisation is working towards reducing the risks identified in its IRMP.
The current IRMP identifies several current risks, such as property fires, moorland fires, and risks within the transport network such as rural roads, the M1 motorway and proximity to Manchester and East Midlands airports. The plan also identifies emerging risks that could affect the county, such as climate change (flooding), fracking and new housing developments. Lastly, the IRMP considers national risks such as mental health, smoking, and drug or alcohol dependency. The IRMP also covers the largest emergencies likely to take place in Derbyshire as identified by the Derbyshire local resilience forum.
The service bases its department plans on the priorities set out in its IRMP. Fire stations also have their own plans, which capture how they will meet department and service priorities. The service has made sure that all staff across the organisation understand and are working towards the tasks identified in the IRMP.
The service frequently monitors how teams, departments and the service as a whole are performing to make sure they stay focused on the strategic priorities. External partners attend local performance meetings, which allows them to feed into discussions on the local issues that are of highest concern.
Derbyshire FRS uses computer modelling software to identify the optimum number of fire engines needed to keep the county safe. The software also assists the service in making decisions about the location of fire stations and fire engines, and the need for any specialist equipment.
Maintaining risk information
Despite the work the service does to understand its local risk profile, it doesn’t have effective processes in place to make sure that firefighters at the scene of an incident can access current information about risk.
Fire and rescue services must collect risk information from high-risk and complex buildings that present risks to firefighter and public safety, so they can make effective plans to deal with any incidents. The service has developed two electronic systems to gather and record such information. The enterprise information system (EIS) is used to record risk information relevant to particular premises, and the hazard management alert (HMA) system is used to record risk information specific to individual people within premises. While these systems are good, the service needs to improve how the data contained within them is accessed and reviewed.
Laminated risk cards containing information about the highest-risk premises are kept on every fire engine. These risk cards should have the same information as the mobile data terminals (MDTs), which are the computers installed on fire engines that allow firefighters to access risk information at the scene of an incident. The risk cards should be replaced with a new version every time the electronic system is updated. However, during our inspection, we found that a number of risk cards were out of date and didn’t match the information on the MDT. Incorrect or out-of-date risk information increases the risk to firefighter safety.
Operational staff are aware of the type of people at greater risk of fire, for example hoarders or those dependent on the use of oxygen. These risks are recorded on the HMA system and accessed by firefighters through the MDT. While we were impressed with this system, it isn’t consistently reviewed. We were unable to identify who, if anybody, was responsible for the management of the information held on it. If the HMA system isn’t regularly reviewed, changes in risk may not be identified and updated, meaning that firefighters won’t have access to the most current information. This could increase the risk to their safety, as well as that of the public.
The service uses a wide range of systems to share other risk information, such as health and safety, across the organisation. Information which is not deemed to be risk-critical is shared electronically via operational bulletins. Risk-critical information, such as weaknesses in a piece of equipment, is shared electronically. Staff must confirm that they have read such information. They do so by recording this on the training database, although we found several examples of individuals not doing so. The training database wasn’t being checked and so their managers didn’t know whether these individuals had read and understood this important information.
How effective is the FRS at preventing fires and other risks?
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at preventing fires and other risks. But we found the following area in which it needs to improve:
Areas for improvement
- The service should ensure that operational crews are effectively using safeguarding procedures.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.
Although its prevention strategy is limited in detail, the service carries out a wide range of prevention activity and it is clear that staff buy into its aims in relation to prevention.
The service collates socio-economic data from partner agencies and combines this with its own data on local fires and other public risks to understand who is at greatest risk of fire. This is used to create a risk index. This index considers a range of risk factors and uses these to assign a risk score to everyone identified by the service or referred to it by a partner agency. This score prioritises the risk and determines who in the service should carry out prevention activity. This enables the service to prioritise those at greatest risk of fire.
The service recognises that some people within the county live in areas that it can’t get to within its ten-minute standard response time. As a result, it has increased prevention activity in these areas, to reduce the risk of a fire starting and minimise the impact of a fire should one occur.
Four station managers work in the prevention team. They have various responsibilities, such as working in partnership with the police and local authorities to reduce risk. There are 16 community support officers located across the county. They are placed in areas that have been identified as high risk and are flexible in responding to emerging trends.
The service has expanded its home fire safety checks to safe and well visits, which consider the health and wellbeing of a vulnerable person as well as their risk of having a fire. These visits include fire safety activities such as identifying and reducing fire risks and fitting fire alarms, as well as welfare-related activities, such as advice on health prevention, social welfare and how to avoid slips, trips and falls.
In the year to 31 March 2018, the service carried out 9,531 safe and well checks. This equates to 9.1 safe and well checks per 1,000 population, which is in line with the rate across England of 10.4. Both wholetime and on-call firefighters are expected to complete safe and well visits. Information from visits is recorded on an electronic system.
Local managers monitor performance against monthly targets that are aligned to station plans. Station performance is also evaluated by the service’s local performance action group. The service has concentrated its prevention activity on those aged over 65 and the disabled. Because of effective targeting, it is well above the national rate for the proportion of safe and well visits conducted in these areas since 2010/11. In the year ending 31 March 2018, the service undertook 77.5 percent of these checks at households occupied by an elderly person and 35.2 percent at households occupied by a person declaring a disability, both of which are higher than the England rate (54.1 percent and 24.7 percent respectively).
The service’s community safety officers (CSOs) focus their activity on the most vulnerable people in the community. It was apparent during our inspection that local CSOs have a close working relationship with operational crews in their area. CSOs provide support and expertise to the crews and, in return, the crews support the CSOs with safe and well visits. There was evident buy-in from across the service to the benefits of prevention.
The service continuously evaluates the impact of its prevention activities at service-wide and local meetings.
Promoting community safety
Derbyshire FRS is actively involved in a wide range of safety campaigns that provide information to the public on how to prevent fires and other emergencies. The service is genuinely innovative in the way it engages with the local community.
The service aligns its campaign calendar to that of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC). Campaigns are promoted through the service’s social media accounts and website. Operational staff have good access to information and resources to carry out campaigns, and managers use their knowledge of local risks – such as open-water hazards or the risks of campsite fires – to undertake additional campaigns.
The service is engaged with a wide range of partner organisations to reduce the risk of fire and other emergencies. Examples of this include working with the Canal & River Trust to promote safety around water, with Network Rail to promote safety around railway lines, and with local councils to identify derelict buildings and make them safe. This is in addition to the more traditional partnerships it has with Derbyshire Constabulary, East Midlands Ambulance Service and local schools.
Derbyshire FRS is actively involved in safeguarding vulnerable people. Risk reduction officers participate in safeguarding hubs, which bring together staff from different agencies. The service also has staff members who attend the adult and child safeguarding boards to provide technical fire safety advice.
The service has a comprehensive policy in place to manage the process of safeguarding vulnerable people. However, operational crews aren’t always confident in their ability to identify when a person may need to be safeguarded. Despite this, operational staff told us that they would prefer to be cautious and make a referral, rather than not. With increased training and awareness, they would be more confident in their decisions about when to make a safeguarding referral.
The service is currently testing new technology that will help it engage with hard-to-reach vulnerable groups. Prevention staff have been given hand-held computers that display prevention information in a variety of languages.
The service is also actively involved in national work to reduce arson through the NFCC, to make sure it is in the forefront of best practice in this area. The service has an arson reduction officer who works closely with the police to share intelligence and target arsonists. It has also engaged with businesses to improve their understanding of arson risk and to take appropriate preventative actions, such as keeping bins locked inside, where possible. In the year ending 31 March 2018, the service attended 1,045 deliberate fires. Deliberate fires accounted for 43.7 percent of all fires that the service attended in the year ending 31 March 2018.
Derbyshire FRS is committed to reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads. However, the number of non-fire-related road fatalities within the county has remained stable since 2011. The service is an active member of the Derby and Derbyshire Road Safety Partnership and has been appointed by the partnership as the lead agency for the education of young drivers. Alongside others from the partnership, it provides a programme of young driver education to sixth-form schools and colleges across the county. The workshops cover distraction, drink and drug driving, vulnerable road users, seatbelts and peer pressure.
According to data provided by the service, the road safety partnership has successfully secured funding of £1.3m to improve the safety of the highest-risk roads in the county, and a further £40,000 for educational interventions.
How effective is the FRS at protecting the public through the regulation of fire safety?
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at protecting the public through fire regulation. But we found the following area in which it needs to improve:
Areas for improvement
- The service should improve the way it identifies new premises which are subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
All fire and rescue services should assess fire risks in buildings and, when necessary, require building owners to comply with fire safety legislation. Each service decides how many assessments it does each year. But it must have a locally determined, risk-based inspection programme for enforcing the legislation.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.
Derbyshire FRS has a detailed protection strategy. Its protection activity is well resourced and its staff are well trained. The service also has a well-managed process to work with the local authority on planning and licensing applications.
The service has a detailed protection strategy which is in line with its IRMP – namely, to complete intelligence-led inspections of properties where there are poor management practices and where vulnerable people live. The service has a comprehensive risk-based inspection programme (RBIP). The RBIP details how the risk level is calculated for each premises and how frequently they should be inspected. The methods the service uses to define risk have been built using guidance from the likes of British Standards and the NFCC. Derbyshire FRS assigns all premises a risk rating from very low to very high. The factors which influence the risk rating are the vulnerability of the occupants, how well the premises are managed and the physical properties of the premises. The highest-risk premises are prioritised in the service’s three-year inspection programme.
The service has identified 34,485 premises within the county as falling under the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This number was last calculated in April 2014. We are concerned that the service hasn’t looked again at defining these premises since then, as new premises are built, and existing premises change their use. As the service hasn’t identified recent changes, some premises that should be defined as high risk may not be, so may not be audited for compliance as often as they should.
As at 31 December 2018, the service had 2,610 high and very high-risk premises. In the year to 31 December 2018, the service audited 838 of these (32.1 percent). This puts it on track to inspect all very high and high-risk premises every three years. In the year to 31 March 2018, the service carried out 2.8 fire safety audits per 100 known premises, which is slightly below the England rate of 3.0 over the same period. In the year ending 31 March 2018, of the 980 audits the service completed, 91.1 percent (893) were short audits. This demonstrates that the service is implementing best practice in this area and ensuring that fire protection officers use their time productively.
As at 31 December 2018, the service had 18 staff members who are dedicated and competent in protection, with a further three in development, although it still has nine fewer staff than it had at 31 March 2013. These staff are well trained and are qualified to a Level 4 Diploma in fire safety. The service has addressed the impact of the reduction of staff by recruiting three business support advisers. They are dedicated to providing informal support and guidance to local business owners. It is anticipated that this will improve general fire safety standards and reduce the workloads of the fire protection officers.
Further to this, the service has begun providing all wholetime watch managers with specific training in protection. At the time of inspection, data provided by the service showed that 16 of the 58 watch managers had completed the level 3 certificate. This greatly enhances the capacity of the service to support protection activities by completing low-level visits called hazard spots and providing information to the public at incidents.
Management meetings are used to review performance and process. Station managers routinely check all documentation in relation to an inspection to make sure that consistent standards are applied, and record this in the database. When premises are inspected, the service sends a feedback form to whoever is responsible for making sure that the premises comply with fire safety law. This allows the service to evaluate and improve its performance.
Derbyshire FRS completes its consultations on planning applications within defined timeframes. We found this process to be well managed. Between 1 April 2018 and 31 December 2018, the service received 460 building regulation consultations and responded to 448 (97.4 percent) in the required timeframe.
The service helps businesses comply with fire regulations during its audits and takes formal enforcement action if the need arises.
The service has a robust and consistent approach to enforcement action. Fire protection inspectors use the Health and Safety Executive’s enforcement management model when deciding whether to prosecute. The model asks fire protection inspectors to consider a range of potential mitigating factors before proceeding with a prosecution. Legal support is provided through an external company.
In the year to 31 March 2018, the service issued 324 informal notifications, 39 enforcement notices and 13 prohibition notices; it didn’t issue any alteration notices or bring any prosecutions. Protection staff told us that they felt well supported by the service when taking formal enforcement action. Staff receive regular training to make sure they remain capable of carrying out a prosecution if needed. The service has suitable resources to make sure that technical protection support is available to operational crews at all times.
Derbyshire FRS works alongside a wide range of other regulatory bodies to share intelligence and complete joint inspections. These include the Care Quality Commission, Ofsted and the Environment Agency. The service also works with several other partner organisations, such as the county council, local authority housing departments and the police.
Working with others
Derbyshire FRS works well with local businesses to reduce the burden of unwanted fire signals. The service currently has three partnerships with private businesses under the primary authority scheme.
In March 2019, the service introduced a robust policy for the management of unwanted fire signals. Control staff have been trained to obtain more information from people who call 999. When an alarm is sounding but a fire isn’t confirmed, the service may not mobilise a fire engine unless it is known that the premises may have vulnerable people inside it, such as a residential care home. In these situations, the service will continue to mobilise a fire engine regardless.
Protection staff also contribute to the reduction of unwanted fire signals. Station managers are given a list of all alarm activations that didn’t result in a fire. Those premises that have had more than four alarm activations in the past three months are contacted by a fire protection inspector to investigate the cause.
How effective is the FRS at responding to fires and other emergencies?
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at responding to fires and other emergencies. But we found the following areas in which it needs to improve:
Areas for improvement
- The service should ensure that all staff know how to command fire service assets assertively, effectively and safely at incidents. It should also ensure it has proper procedures to record key incident ground decisions and that staff understand this process.
- The service should make sure its mobile data terminals are reliable so that firefighters have good access to relevant and up-to-date risk information.
Managing assets and resources
Derbyshire FRS has good processes in place to quickly and efficiently move its engines and firefighters to where they are most needed.
However, the service’s response strategy is limited. It doesn’t provide information on – among other things – response standards, levels of command at incidents, or when operational debriefing should take place. This information is held within a suite of policy documents that isn’t easily accessible by the public.
The service operates 41 fire engines across 31 fire stations within the county as at 31 March 2018. It undertook a comprehensive risk-based analysis and concluded that it needs 36 fire engines during the day to meet the foreseeable risks. The service completes an emergency response review every three years. This review contains over two million pieces of data in relation to response times, locations and risks.
The service has not met its optimum number of fire engines in the time periods we examined. In December 2018, an average of 30.2 fire engines were available each day between the hours of 17:00 and 18:00. This increased to an average of 31.5 during the hours of 18:00 and 19:00. An average of 31.8 fire engines were available between the hours of 19:00 to 20:00. Moreover, between 1 April 2018 and 31 December 2018, the average monthly availability of pumps ranged from 78.9 percent and 82.9 percent.
Derbyshire FRS has an appropriate range of appliances and equipment at its disposal. It has recently reduced and relocated specialist equipment after conducting extensive research and consultation. For example, it has reduced the number of aerial ladder platforms from three to two. Water carriers and animal rescue units have been relocated to new stations where they are more needed.
Control room staff actively manage the number of fire engines available at any one time. There are trigger points when control is required to notify the duty officer so they can authorise any necessary action – for example, if more than ten on-call fire engines are unavailable, or if both aerial ladder platforms are being used.
The service has a dynamic and accurate system for mobilising fire engines. Live data is used to update response times on the system. The time taken for on-call crews to reach the station and turn out is routinely measured. An average is taken, and this time delay is added to the mobilising system. In this way, the service can make sure the quickest fire engine is always deployed first.
Derbyshire FRS also has an effective system for managing on-call availability. This system records the skills of individual firefighters, automatically updates when fire engines are available, and feeds directly into the mobilising system used by control.
The service has effective processes in place to manage its response to incidents. In the year to 31 December 2018, the FRS attended 6.8 incidents per 1,000 population, compared to the England rate of 10.4 over the same period.
The Home Office collects and publishes data on response times by measuring the time between the call being made and the first fire engine arriving at the scene. This provides consistent data across all 45 services. However, services measure their own response times in a range of different ways.
Derbyshire FRS is in the process of reviewing its response standards in preparation for its next IRMP. The current standards are measured from the time of mobilising the fire engine to the time it arrives at an incident. This doesn’t include the time taken for the control operator to process the call.
The service is exceeding its first response standard, which is that the first fire engine mobilised will arrive at life risk incidents within 10 minutes on at least 80 percent of occasions. Between 1 April 2018 and 31 December 2018, the service achieved this 82.7 percent of the time. The service is over 10 percentage points below its second standard, achieving 74.7 percent against a target of the second fire engine arriving within 13 minutes on at least 85 percent of incidents. Usually, these response standards are included as part of the service’s IRMP.
In the year ending 31 March 2018, the service had an average response time to primary fires of 10 minutes and 24 seconds from the time of receiving a call to the first fire engine arriving on scene. This is in line with other fire and rescue services that cover areas described as significantly rural.
The service has made reasonable progress in adopting national operational guidance both locally and regionally. It has already completed a gap analysis to identify where it needs to do more to comply with the guidance, and has an action plan and implementation framework in place.
However, we did find that the MDTs used by the service aren’t reliable. Operational staff across the organisation regularly lose connection on their MDT and can’t access important data, such as how to manage hazardous chemicals or the technical details of a vehicle involved in an accident.
The service has a range of fixed plans for responding to particular incidents, known as pre-determined attendance (PDA) arrangements. The service’s mobilising system immediately implements the PDA, selecting the quickest fire engine(s) to respond to an incident, which ensures a fast and appropriate response. If necessary, control room staff can alter the PDA – for example, because of road closures or temporary events.
The service introduced national operational guidance for incident command in August 2018. The service’s training centre has developed online training packages for all operational staff, which include information on using operational discretion and the decision control process. However, some supervisory incident commanders weren’t confident in the new procedures. For example, they were unsure about the decision control process, when to use operational discretion and how it should be recorded.
Currently, Derbyshire FRS doesn’t have a suitable way of recording incident command decisions. Logs are completed only on the rare occasion that a major incident is declared. There are no decision logs available on fire engines or within command packs. This should be addressed. Without a credible recording system, the service is unable to review or evaluate decisions or to learn from them. The service’s training centre is trialling a new command pack that includes a decision log designed in line with national operational guidance and in collaboration with regional partners.
Despite this, we did find that incident commanders use analytical risk assessments appropriately at incidents.
Keeping the public informed
Control room staff have clear information to help them give guidance to people who are in immediate danger from fire. Staff are well trained and confident in providing a range of fire survival guidance to the public.
Control room staff are also confident in their ability to use Language Line, which provides access to an interpreter. The interpreter can relay critical information between the control operator and the caller, if English isn’t the caller’s first language. This enables the service to provide a speedy response to everyone.
The service has a substantial presence on social media, which it uses to increase awareness of fire prevention messages, update live incident details to warn and inform the public regarding safety information, and advertise recruitment campaigns. Staff who manage the service’s social media accounts are trained and supported by the central communications team.
Evaluating operational performance
Derbyshire FRS carries out effective debriefs after each incident to identify learning and make improvements to the way it responds.
The service has three levels of debrief, depending on the scale of the incident. The lowest is level 1, following a small incident, which involves a hot debrief by the incident commander. These aren’t formally recorded unless any notable learning is identified, in which case this is recorded and passed to the training centre.
A level 2 debrief is instigated by a senior officer or control operator when certain trigger points are met, such as a fire fatality. These debriefs are recorded. Finally, level 3 debriefs take place when a major incident has been declared. These are also formally recorded. These debriefs include control staff, along with staff from other agencies such as the police and ambulance service.
Information from level 2 and 3 debriefs is submitted to the service’s operational assurance team. This team reviews the submissions and identifies any improvements in the way that the service could operate. The operational assurance team creates a ‘fireflash’ message to inform staff of any risk-critical learning. This is generally emailed to all relevant staff and placed on the service’s training system. It is also printed off and placed on station notice boards and handover books. All operational staff must confirm on the training database that they have read the fireflash.
The operational assurance team creates quarterly bulletins that contain further non-risk-critical learning. We found that this process was well understood and embedded. For example, staff were able to demonstrate a good understanding of the process and where to find the information. They were also able to give examples of changes made to policies and procedures because of learning identified in debriefs. For example, after the moorland fires in 2018, the service purchased two specialist vehicles to transport firefighters and equipment over rough terrain.
The service also uses national learning effectively. This information is reviewed by the operational assurance team, which completes a gap analysis and implements changes as necessary.
How effective is the FRS at responding to national risks?
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at responding to national risks. But we found the following area in which it needs to improve:
Areas for improvement
- Areas for improvement
The service should ensure that operational staff understand how to respond to a marauding terrorist attack.
All fire and rescue services must be able to respond effectively to multi-agency and cross-border incidents. This means working with other fire and rescue services (known as intraoperability) and emergency services (known as interoperability).
We found that control staff and senior managers understand the processes for mobilising and reporting to the National Resilience Fire Control. Control staff can mobilise national assets effectively when they are required due to extraordinary need, such as wide-area flooding or a major incident. During our inspection, Derbyshire FRS mobilised several high-volume pumps, fire engines and firefighters to Lincolnshire to help manage flood water in Boston and Hardcastle. And several weeks after the inspection, in August 2019, it was an integral partner in the response to the risk of flooding at Whaley Bridge, in which several fire services provided staff and equipment.
The service effectively manages its response to high-risk premises through tactical plans. Examples of such premises are a large metal works in Swadlincote and a hazardous chemicals plant in Derby. For these sites, the service liaises with the local emergency planning department.
Working with other services
Derbyshire FRS works closely with its neighbouring services in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. This is locally referred to as the tri-service agreement, whereby all three regularly respond to incidents in each other’s service area. Control room staff in Derbyshire can seamlessly take calls for the other two services and mobilise the quickest fire engine, regardless of which service area the call is from. Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire FRSs can do the same. The three services also share all their risk information effectively with each other.
We found that this wasn’t the case with the service’s other four neighbouring services. While they do have access to risk information up to 10 kilometres over the border, this information isn’t available on fire engine MDTs. The service recognises this problem and has a project in place to resolve it.
Derbyshire firefighters regularly work at incidents with firefighters from Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. Where cross-border working isn’t so regular, local stations are required to organise and complete at least one exercise each year with neighbouring FRSs. This ensures that firefighters remain familiar with the working practices of other services. We found this to be well embedded.
Working with other agencies
Derbyshire FRS works well with other agencies to make sure it is prepared to respond to a multi-agency incident.
The service is an active member of the Derbyshire local resilience forum. It chairs the sub-group that has developed the training and exercise framework 2019–21. This sets out a multi-agency training programme involving agencies such as county and district councils, police and ambulance services, and voluntary organisations.
The service recently carried out a large-scale multi-agency training exercise. This involved a range of partner agencies and was focused on responding to a fire and public disorder at a fracking site.
The service has a group of national inter-agency liaison officers who act as advisers for incidents such as a terrorist attack.
We found that control staff are well trained and confident in providing appropriate guidance to callers in the event of a marauding terrorist attack. Guidance notes make sure control operators capture as much useful information as possible and take appropriate action.
Training has been provided to operational crews in relation to terrorist incidents. But we found that some staff didn’t feel confident in their ability to react to such an attack.