Skip to content

Isles of Scilly 2018/19

Efficiency

How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?

Last updated 20/12/2018
Good

Isles of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is good.

The service works with the local authority to manage its finances better. It recently changed its management structure. This helps it work closer with the local authority. The service has saved money by:

  • having an agreement with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service;
  • using the airport’s fire service; and
  • working with other emergency services

The service improves efficiency through finding better ways of working. For example, it can use engines that Cornwall no longer needs.

It saves money by working with others, including Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. It also works with the local authority and the airport fire service to prevent and respond to fires and other risks.

The service needs to make itself more affordable. It recently found out it must pay pensions to retired staff. So, it now needs to save £30,000 of the £490,000 budget. It plans to do this in several ways, but it hasn’t evaluated these plans.

The service doesn’t test business continuity plans.

It plans to improve its efficiency by investing in training equipment, but it hasn’t assessed the funding or benefits of this investment.

Questions for Efficiency

1

How well does the FRS use resources to manage risk?

Good

Isles of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service is good at making best use of resources.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

How plans support objectives

The service’s current one-year interim IRMP is based on 2012 data with limited updates. The service is developing a new 2019-22 IRMP with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service.

The service has not previously done financial planning for its capital and revenue budgets. The council and the service are aware that they need a better understanding of financial management. This might include putting in place an ICT strategy that aligns to financial and workforce plans.

The council and the service are going to work on a capital replacement plan for equipment. This will use a separate capital budget when it is set up. The plan will align with Cornwall’s capital replacement plan and personal protective equipment programme. The service intends to negotiate for Cornwall’s used appliances, where feasible.

Productivity and ways of working

The service, until recently, employed a station manager who also had a role in the airport fire service. It also had a uniformed chief fire officer as well as 43 on-call firefighters up to watch manager level.

This has since changed. The service now has a non-uniformed chief fire officer who is also deputy chief executive of the Council of the Isles of Scilly. The station manager post is vacant, and it is unclear whether the service will fill this post.

The agreement with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service has resulted in savings for the service. It now pays for 25 percent of a station manager from Cornwall. The agreement also covers preparation of the IRMP, statement of assurance, capital programme and review of the organisation, fire protection audits, debriefing and operational support.

The service also uses several volunteers across all the stations.

The service also has a wide-ranging service level agreement with the airport fire service to provide services. This includes home fire safety checks training, maintenance of kit and equipment, risk assessments and support to large-scale incidents.

Collaboration

The service works within the local authority and has access to the police, ambulance, coastguard and RNLI. This is through the chief fire officer in his role as the deputy chief executive of the council.

Fire stations house other agencies’ response vehicles.

Continuity arrangements

We were unable to find any evidence that the service tests its business continuity arrangements. Its business continuity plans are owned by the Council of the Isles of Scilly.

2

How well is the FRS securing an affordable way of managing the risk of fire and other risks now and in the future?

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The service should assure itself that it has access to appropriate and effective budget management planning, with efficient overall financial management capability and capacity, to ensure that it includes all liabilities when calculating its spending plans.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

Improving value for money

The service is very small and as at 31 March 2018, Isles of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service employed the equivalent of 13 full time firefighters.

The service was unaware that it had a responsibility to pay pensions to retired members. It discovered this on the retirement of the former chief officer and once the budget from the previous year had been reviewed revealing a deficit.

The service has begun to explore and develop plans across the service and through many areas, to make up to £30,000 of savings from its £490,000 budget, including:

  • a review of staff payment schemes;
  • a review of the agreement with the airport fire service with a view to creating efficiencies;
  • a blue light collaboration between fire, ambulance, police and coastguard with quad service officers who have equipment based across the fire stations;
  • sharing of inter-island transport for resilience (for example the fire and rescue service and the ambulance service could share boat transport); and
  • purchasing a breathing apparatus training facility so that crews can train on the islands rather than going to Portreath in Cornwall.

All the above would contribute to financial savings. But we did not find any evaluation to see if these proposals were based on sound data.

Innovation

Under the agreement with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, the two services have aligned their appliance replacement programmes. This will allow the service to re-use the appliances and equipment no longer needed by Cornwall. The service will also benefit from cheaper prices through larger scale procurement.

Future investment and working with others

The service is a key department within the local authority. So, it works closely with all council departments. Specifically, the fire and rescue service and the airport fire service are both managed by the deputy chief executive of the council. This allows the two services to collaborate in operational response as well as in prevention activity on St Mary’s island.

Isles of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service also pays for services from Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. This includes strategic and tactical managerial support as well as operational support. In future the service will also pay Cornwall for protection inspections, training support and a review of policies and procedures.

The service is reviewing both agreements as it develops its IRMP.

The service is planning to purchase its own hot fire training containers for £10,000. It can then offer a higher level of training. But we couldn’t find a business case for the funding and the benefits.