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Cambridgeshire 2021/22

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 15/12/2021
Good

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

The service has a good integrated risk management plan (IRMP). It makes clear links to its prevention, protection and response strategies. And the service aims to continuously improve. For example, by looking at best practice across the fire sector.

Since our last inspection, the service has improved:

  • the way it evaluates prevention and protection activities, to improve its service for the public;
  • systems for learning and debriefing, to improve operational response and incident command; and
  • the way it makes national and cross-border information, including learning, available to its staff and fire control.

However, the service should:

  • improve its consultation process for the seldom heard;
  • do more to reduce unwanted fire signals; and
  • ensure that its quality assurance of fire safety audits is more consistent.

Questions for Effectiveness

1

How well does the FRS understand the risk of fire and other emergencies?

Good

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at understanding risk.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

Each fire and rescue service should identify and assess all foreseeable fire and rescue-related risks that could affect its communities. Arrangements should be put in place through the service’s prevention, protection and response capabilities to prevent or mitigate these risks for the public.

Areas for improvement

The service needs to improve how it engages with its local community to build a comprehensive profile of risk in its service area.

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

More could be done to engage with difficult to identify and hard to reach communities

The service has assessed an appropriate range of risks and threats after a thorough IRMP planning process. When assessing risk, it has considered relevant information collected from a broad range of internal and external sources and data sets. This includes incident data from their mobilising system, the national incident reporting system, ward profiling and socio-demographic data from third-party sources. The service is building on this with a move to include more business listing information.

But we found the service had limited response to consultation on its IRMP from the public. And it had limited meaningful interaction with difficult to identify and hard to reach (sometimes referred to as ‘seldom heard’) communities. The service should improve how it engages with these communities to understand the risks they might face and explain how it intends to mitigate them.

The service’s risk management plan is clear and easy for staff, the public and partners to understand

After assessing risks, the service has recorded its findings in an easily understood IRMP. This plan describes how prevention, protection and response activity is to be effectively resourced to mitigate or reduce the risks and threats the community faces, both now and in the future.

The plan sets out the service’s vision and strategic aims under four specific action plans:

  • people;
  • community safety excellence;
  • operational excellence; and
  • value for money.

Within these plans, the service has identified specific areas of focus. These areas include organisational culture and staff engagement; improving and supporting mental health and staff wellbeing; collaborating with other blue light services; and partnership working.

The service has published performance measures for fires, false alarms, road traffic collisions and its response to incidents. As we said at our previous inspection, to further enhance this plan, the service should consider including clear and challenging targets for all performance.

The service is effective at gathering, maintaining and sharing a good range of risk information

The service routinely collects and updates the information it has about the people, places and threats it has identified as being at greatest risk. Operational staff routinely gather risk information from businesses. Staff who are qualified in fire protection inspect and audit premises for fire safety compliance.

This information is readily available for the service’s prevention, protection and response staff, which enables it to identify, reduce and mitigate risk effectively. For example, risk information is made available to operational staff via mobile data terminals and tablets.

The service has systems in place to make staff aware of any significant changes to risk information. We saw new and emerging risks communicated using a range of methods. These included providing information on a mobile and web application (that is a fully interactive source of service news and information) and email and service action notes, which are monitored to ensure its staff are aware.

Where appropriate, risk information is passed on to other organisations. For example, the service has a memorandum of understanding with building control of 3C Shared Services – a strategic partnership between Cambridgeshire city council, Huntingdon district council and South Cambridgeshire district council – to communicate and share building risk information.

The service is good at learning from operational incidents

The service records and communicates risk information effectively. It also routinely updates risk assessments and uses feedback from local and national operational activity to inform its planning assumptions.

The service has dedicated resources to communicating national operational guidance and lessons learned from national operational work. The service central county risk analysis group reviews emerging information gathered from operational activity and changes its response to the risks where needed.

The service responded proactively to the recommendations and learning from phase one of the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry

During this round of inspections, we assessed how each fire and rescue service has responded to the recommendations and learning from phase one of the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has responded to learning from this tragedy. The service has a comprehensive action plan and has bought smoke hoods and new fireground radios for operational crews. It has tested and exercised handling multiple fire survival calls in response to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Letters of assurance and home fire safety advice were sent to residents in high-rise premises.

The service is on track to having assessed the risk of each high-rise building in its service area by the end of 2021.

It has carried out a fire safety audit and collected and passed relevant risk information to its prevention, protection and response teams about buildings identified as high risk and all high-rise buildings that have cladding similar to the type installed on Grenfell Tower.

2

How effective is the FRS at preventing fires and other risks?

Good

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at preventing fires and other risks.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

Fire and rescue services must promote fire safety, including giving fire safety advice. To identify people at greatest risk from fire, services should work closely with other organisations in the public and voluntary sector, as well as with the police and ambulance services. They should provide intelligence and risk information with these other organisations when they identify vulnerability or exploitation.

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

The service’s prevention strategy clearly links to the risks identified in its integrated risk management plan (IRMP)

The service’s prevention strategy is clearly linked to the risks identified in its IRMP. The service has identified those who may be vulnerable and at higher risk from fire and road traffic collisions.

The service is an important partner in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Business Partnership, focusing specifically on reducing injury and deaths among younger drivers. The service has dedicated staff working in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Multi-Agency Safeguarding
Hubs
. This makes sure they can make the right referrals and support those most vulnerable from fire and other risks.

All functions in the service use prevention information (from the prevention team) to plan and direct activity, both within their function and across the organisation. Such activities include:

  • Firebreak, an intervention programme to provide young people with improved knowledge in areas such as basic life support and road safety. Attendees receive a unit award scheme certificate on completion.

The pandemic has had an impact on prevention activities

We considered how the service had adapted its prevention work during our COVID-19 specific inspection (carried out between 5 and 16 October 2020). At that time, we found it had adapted its public prevention work appropriately. The impact of the pandemic resulted in no safe and well visits taking place between 1 April 2020 and 30 June 2020. Since then we are encouraged to find that safe and well visits have resumed, based on an assessment of risk and vulnerability.

The service is good at targeting those most at risk from fire

Prevention activity is clearly prioritised using a risk-based approach towards people most at risk from fire and other emergencies. The service takes account of a broad range of information and data to target its prevention activity at vulnerable individuals and groups. This includes health data from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Adult Social Care and the NHS.

The service is targeting the over 65s and the vulnerable, with 4,073 of the 4,408 safe and well visits carried out by the service between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020 being targeted towards someone over 65 and/or with a disability. It also has arrangements in place to receive referrals from others. For example, the service provides what it calls olive branch training to care providers and other agencies so they can assess who is vulnerable to the risk of fire and make referrals for safe and well visits in a more targeted way. Referrals from care providers are assessed and acted on by the business support group.

Staff are confident at providing safe and well checks

Staff told us they have the right skills and confidence to make safe and well visits. These checks cover an appropriate range of hazards that can put vulnerable people at greater risk from fire and other emergencies. The visit assesses six main elements: fire safety, falls prevention, alcohol abuse, staying well and warm, crime, and smoking.

There are arrangements for staff to raise safeguarding concerns, but the service should prioritise the roll-out of its training

The service provides safeguarding training and has arrangements for staff to raise safeguarding concerns to the multi-agency safeguarding hubs. The staff we interviewed told us about occasions when they had identified safeguarding problems.

But not all staff we interviewed had had safeguarding training. The service should prioritise this training for all staff so they are capable and confident at recognising safeguarding issues and vulnerability. This will improve the service it provides to the public.

The service is good at collaborating

The service works with a wide range of other organisations, such as The Prince’s Trust, Dementia Friends and Safer Peterborough, to prevent fires and other emergencies. 4,408 safe and well visits were carried out by the service between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, 1,687 were from referrals from other agencies. During the same period 840 home fire safety checks were carried out in the service area by partner agencies.

Reducing harm and road deaths in young drivers is a priority. The service provides road safety courses such as Biker Down and education in schools. It is an effective contributor to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership.

The service routinely exchanges information with other public sector organisations about people and groups at greatest risk. It uses the information to challenge planning assumptions and target prevention activity. For example, the service has signed up to a county community data sharing agreement for information on vulnerability, hoarding and scams. It is one of the main organisations in this agreement.

The service has effective interventions for reducing fire-setting behaviour

The service has a range of effective interventions to target and educate people of different ages who show signs of fire-setting behaviour. This includes a fire-setter intervention programme, which involves fire staff visiting children who play or
have a fascination with fire, and Project Icarus, a therapeutic one-to-one arson intervention programme.

When appropriate, it routinely shares information with other partners such as Cambridgeshire Police and the prison and probation service to help integrate offenders back into communities.

The service has effective processes to evaluate prevention activities

We are pleased to see, since our previous inspection, that the service has improved the way it evaluates its prevention activity. The service has good evaluation tools in place to measure how effective its work is. This helps it know what works, and means its communities get prevention activity that meets their needs. For example, the service has put in place a structured evaluation process for safe and well visits to record feedback and check what someone understands about the safety information they have been given.

Two Nottingham Trent University students helped evaluate how well community fire safety is delivered as part of a volunteer project. Their findings have contributed to an improved service to the public.

3

How effective is the FRS at protecting the public through the regulation of fire safety?

Good

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at protecting the public through fire regulation.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

All fire and rescue services should assess fire risks in certain 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.

Areas for improvement

  • The service should make sure it has an effective quality assurance process, so staff carry out audits to an appropriate standard.
  • The service should make sure it effectively addresses the burden of false alarms.

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

Protection is clearly linked to the integrated risk management plan (IRMP)

The service’s protection strategy is clearly linked to the risk it has identified in its IRMP.

Staff across the service are involved in this activity, with information effectively exchanged as needed. For example, the service uses a range of information from its risk-based audit programme, risk modelling, ward profiling and workforce planning to inform its integrated risk management and action plans. Information is in turn used to adjust planning assumptions and direct activity between the service’s protection, prevention and response functions. This means resources are properly aligned to risk.

COVID-19 has had an impact on protection activities

We considered how the service had adapted its protection activity during our COVID‑19 specific inspection. We found it had adapted its protection work well. Since then, we are encouraged to find it is maintaining a risk-based approach and has been effective at working with partners and completing (virtual) building control consultations on time. Over 99 percent (433 of 437) of building consultations received between 1 April 2020 and 30 September 2020 were completed on time.

The service is continuously improving its risk-based inspection programme

The risk-based inspection programme is focused on the service’s highest-risk buildings. The service has improved its programme by:

  • increasing the amount of data and number of information sources it considers; and
  • studying best practice from other services across the fire sector.

This has improved its risk level identification – that is, it has a better understanding of how much risk there is and how often it should inspect a premise or risk factor.

The service has audited all high-rise buildings similar to Grenfell Tower

Audits have been carried out at all high-rise buildings the service has identified as using cladding that is similar to the cladding installed on Grenfell Tower. Information gathered during these audits is made available to response teams and control operators, enabling them to respond more effectively in an emergency.

The service told us it is on track to visit all the high-rise, high-risk buildings it has identified in its service area by the end of 2021.

The quality of fire protection audits is inconsistent

We reviewed a range of audits of different premises across the service, including:

  • audits as part of the service’s risk-based inspection programme;
  • audits after fires at premises where fire safety legislation applied, where enforcement action had been taken; and
  • audits at high-risk, high-rise buildings.

Not all the audits we reviewed were completed in a consistent, systematic way, or in line with the service’s policies. We found incomplete audits. Some lacked the required comments to support the understanding of risk and the risk judgment.

The service doesn’t consistently quality-assure its fire protection audits

We found the service has quality assurance processes in place, but they aren’t consistently applied. For example, the service doesn’t quality-assure its audits unless enforcement action is being taken.

The service would benefit from evaluating its enforcement activity

The service’s approach to enforcement involves educating, engaging with and supporting businesses to manage fire safety.

However, it sees enforcement as a last resort. It hasn’t used its full range of enforcement powers. And it isn’t always clear if the service wants to prosecute those who don’t comply with fire safety regulations.

The service would benefit from evaluating its enforcement strategy to make sure it understands its effect on keeping people safe and secure from fire.

In the year to 31 March 2020, the service issued:

  • 122 informal notices;
  • no alteration notices;
  • three enforcement notices; and
  • eight prohibition notices.

It did not undertake any prosecutions.

The service has improved the way it evaluates protection activity and engages well with local business

We are pleased to see, since our previous inspection, that the service evaluates most of its protection activity. The service has good evaluation tools in place to measure the effectiveness of its activity, and to make sure all sections of its communities get the right access to the protection services that meet their needs. For example, the service hosts fire protection seminars for the business community.

The service is improving the resourcing of protection activities

The service has enough qualified protection staff to meet the requirements of its risk‑based inspection programme. And to increase capacity, it has trained wholetime firefighters to support the risk-based inspection programme and carry out compliance checks at lower risk, less complex premises.

The service works well with other enforcement agencies

The service works closely with other enforcement agencies to regulate fire safety and routinely exchanges risk information with them. For example:

  • the service is an active partner in local safety advisory groups, with whom it shares risk information and intelligence; and
  • it participates in joint enforcement work with housing and licensing agencies, as well as the police force.

The enforcement work resulted in prohibition notices being issued.

The service has improved its building consultations processes

The service responded on time to almost all (433 of 437) building consultations received between 1 April 2020 and 30 September 2020, so consistently meets its statutory responsibility to comment on fire safety arrangements at new and altered buildings. It has improved its consultation process by:

  • Agreeing a memorandum of understanding with 3C Shared Services.
  • Sending building consultations electronically (which is quicker and more traceable than producing and posting hard copy).

The service promotes fire safety

The service proactively engages with local businesses and other organisations to promote compliance with fire safety legislation. It provides bespoke business fire safety seminars and is an active partner in the primary authority scheme, which provides assured compliance advice and guidance.

The service should do more to reduce the burden of unwanted fire signals

The service’s unwanted fire signal (false alarm) policy is inconsistently applied, particularly in relation to those premises where there are regular false alarms. As a result, it doesn’t take sufficient action to reduce the number of unwanted fire signals. This places an unnecessary burden on fire control.

The service has been collecting unwanted fire signal data. However, it does this in an inconsistent way which makes it difficult to use.

4

How effective is the FRS at responding to fires and other emergencies?

Good

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at responding to fires and other emergencies.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

Fire and rescue services must be able to respond to a range of incidents such as fires, road traffic collisions and other emergencies within their areas.

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

The service is good at using performance data to improve response and availability

The service’s response strategy is linked to the risks identified in its IRMP. Its fire engines and response staff, as well as its working patterns, are designed and located to enable the service to respond flexibly to fires and other emergencies with the appropriate resources. For example, it is piloting using two of its day-crewed pumps differently to cover on-call areas when the on-call fire engine is not available.

The service prioritises covering its on-call strategic stations to improve its response standard. It uses on-call capacity to cover other stations and provide prevention and protection activities.

The service has plans to improve its response times, which are already good

There are no national response standards against which the service can benchmark its performance for the public. But the service has set out its own response standard
in its IRMP.

The service’s response standard is for the first fire engine in attendance to arrive at the most serious incidents within an average of 9 minutes in urban areas, and 12 minutes in rural areas. The service told us its average response time to the most serious incidents in urban areas in the year to 31 March 2020 was 8 minutes and 33 seconds. This meets its standard. In the year to 31 March 2020, the service told us its average response time to the most serious incidents in rural areas was 12 minutes and 19 seconds. This is slightly outside its standard. It has plans to improve this.

The service consistently meets its standard for wholetime fire engine availability

To support its response strategy, the service aims to have:

  • 100 percent of wholetime fire engines available on 100 percent of occasions; and
  • on-call fire engines available on 55.31 percent of occasions.

It consistently meets the wholetime standard, however, the service should continue to improve its on call availability. In the year to 31 March 2020 wholetime fire engine availability was 100 percent and on-call fire engine availability was 64.9 percent.

The service commands operational incidents effectively

The service has trained incident commanders who are assessed regularly and properly. It has an effective system to ensure that they have regular training (level 3 and 4 incident command training); and uses an externally accredited training provider to (re)assess their command competence every two years. At 31 March 2020, 219 of 234 incident commanders were within accreditation, with COVID-19 affecting the availability of reaccreditation facilities.

This enables the service to safely, assertively and effectively manage the whole range of incidents that it could face, from small and routine ones to complex multi‑agency incidents.

As part of our inspection, we interviewed incident commanders from across the service. They are confident with risk assessing, decision making and recording information at incidents in line with national best practice, as well as the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles
(JESIP)
. They are also confident in the use of operational discretion – they know when to use their professional judgment in an unforeseen situation at an incident and that the service will support their decisions.

We found that incident commanders make good use of available support materials including checklists, command support packs, analytical risk assessments and decision logs.

The service has improved the consistency of 999-call handling

The service has a combined fire control with Suffolk FRS. One fire control, based in Cambridgeshire FRS headquarters in Huntingdon, handles all 999 calls for both services. During our previous inspection we found differences in mobilising procedures across the two services affected call-handling times. The service has undertaken an evaluation of its call-handling and we found improvements since the last inspection.

We are pleased to see the service’s control staff included in the service’s command, training, exercise, debrief and assurance activity. For example:

  • control staff made a significant contribution to a recent high-rise and multiple fire survival call exercise;
  • there are processes for those working in fire control to carry out a debrief following incidents of six fire engines, or incidents of interest; and
  • control staff were invited to the service’s structured (formal) debrief following a critical incident.

The service responded proactively to learning from the Grenfell Tower fire

The control room staff we interviewed are confident they could provide fire survival guidance to many callers simultaneously. This was identified as learning for fire services after the Grenfell Tower fire. A recent high-rise exercise had tested their ability to manage multiple fire survival calls and share information with incident commanders.

Fire control has good systems in place to exchange real-time risk information with incident commanders, other responding partners and other supporting fire and rescue services. Maintaining good situational awareness enables the service to communicate effectively with the public, providing them with accurate and tailored advice.

The service makes risk information readily available to firefighters

We sampled a range of risk information, including:

  • records on the service’s community fire risk information management system; and
  • site-specific risk information records on the fire engines’ mobile data terminals.

The records include permanent and temporary risk information for firefighters responding to incidents at high-risk, high-rise buildings. Firefighters also have access to information from fire control. (Permanent information would include records for hospitals and factories while temporary information would list, for example, oxygen users.)

The information we reviewed was up to date and detailed. It could be easily accessed and understood by staff. Encouragingly, it had been completed with input from the service’s prevention, protection and response functions when appropriate.

The service has improved the way it evaluates operational performance and plans to adopt national operational guidance

As part of the inspection, we reviewed a range of emergency incidents and training events including:

  • wide area flooding;
  • domestic fires; and
  • critical incidents, operational discretion incidents and exercises.

We are pleased to see an improvement, since our last inspection, in the way the service evaluates operational performance. The service has an effective system for staff to use information from learning and debriefing activity to improve operational response and incident command. It has created a comprehensive incident monitoring and debriefing policy; and has improved its structured debriefs for larger, more complex incidents. We saw the service use its range of debriefing processes following a critical incident. Staff had good knowledge and understanding of them.

We are also pleased to see that the service routinely follows its policies to assure itself that staff command incidents in line with operational guidance. Internal risk information is updated as it is received. Learning from exercises and incidents is fed into an operational support group that collates and communicates it through ‘closing the loop’ reports. The group uses service action notes, email and Workplace to inform all staff about the reports and any other learning.

The service has responded to learning from incidents to improve its service for the public. Staff are confident that it listens to their feedback and takes action as a result of learning from operational incidents. For example, when staff found that fire appliance (fire engine) CCTV was interfering with the service’s new radios. The problem was raised in the debriefing process, highlighted in a health and safety bulletin and rectified.

We are encouraged to see the service is contributing towards, and acting on, learning from other fire and rescue services or operational learning gathered from other emergency service partners. For example:

  • safety flashes or review of practices to improve from the National Fire Chiefs
    Council
    ’s Central Programme Office; and
  • the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles (JESIP).

We found that most of the service’s operational policy aligns with national operational guidance (NOG). The service has an active role in the regional NOG group. It (the service) plans to fully adopt NOG by 2022.

The service keeps the public informed about ongoing incidents effectively

The service has good systems in place to inform the public about ongoing incidents and help keep them safe during and after incidents. They include:

  • proactive use of social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook;
  • the incident tab on the service’s website;
  • media-trained incident commanders; and
  • mobile technology to record and report incidents live (that is, as they happen).

We saw evidence that the service provides incident updates using these systems.

5

How effective is the FRS at responding to major and multi-agency incidents?

Good

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at responding to major and multi‑agency incidents.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

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

The service has improved access to risk information from neighbouring services and is well prepared for major and multi-agency incidents

The service has effectively anticipated and considered the reasonably foreseeable risks and threats it may face. These risks are listed in both local and national risk registers as part of its integrated risk management planning.

The service hosts the community risk register on its website. It highlights the top ten risks (that is, those with the highest likelihood and the potential to make a significant impact) to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Risks include:

  • emerging infectious diseases;
  • major contamination of the food chain; and
  • flooding, cold and snow.

We are pleased to see that, since our last inspection, firefighters have been given access to risk information from neighbouring services. It is easily accessible on mobile data terminals.

The service is familiar with the significant risks that neighbouring fire and rescue services could face, that it might reasonably be asked to respond to in an emergency. These include control of major accident hazard (COMAH) incidents and flooding on the east coast.

The service can respond effectively to major and multi-agency incidents

We reviewed the arrangements the service has in place to respond to different major incidents such as wide area flooding and marauding terrorist attacks.

The service has good arrangements in place. Staff demonstrated a good understanding of what would constitute a major incident. They understand their responsibilities and how to request additional resources, including national assets,
if required.

The service makes e-learning modules for major incidents available to firefighters. At the time of inspection, the service had almost completed training its operational staff on the updated marauding terrorist attack (MTA) national joint operating procedures.

The service has specialist, national interagency liaison officers who provide 24/7 cover to support its MTA response. It maintains and staffs a high-volume pump that is also available to the National Resilience programme.

The service works with other fire services and has improved the resilience of its principal officer’s rota

The service supports other fire and rescue services responding to emergency incidents. For example, it has a memorandum of understanding with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service to share a principal officer rota. We are pleased to see this. It has increased the service’s capacity and resilience by making more senior officers available to respond to incidents.

It is interoperable with other services and can form part of a multi-agency response.

The service’s cross-border exercise plans have been affected by COVID-19

We are encouraged to see that the service has tested operational guidance for breathing apparatus during exercises with Bedfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk Fire and Rescue Services. Such exercises enable them to work together effectively to keep the public safe. Additionally, feedback (from the exercises) informs risk information and service plans.

The service exercise plans have understandably been affected by COVID-19 – there were no cross-border exercises in 2020. Future plans should include exercises with neighbouring services.

Incident commanders have been trained in and understand JESIP

The incident commanders we interviewed had been trained in and were familiar with JESIP. Evidence that the service consistently follows these principles includes:

  • staff knowledge and use of the joint decision-making model; and
  • the use of the nationally recognised messaging (that is, messages that all emergency services and related agencies understand).

The service is an active member, and lead partner, of the LRF

The service has good arrangements in place to respond to emergencies with other partners that make up the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Resilience Forum (LRF). These arrangements include having staff available to respond to requests from partners during the pandemic. Staff:

  • supported East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust with ambulance driving;
  • helped fit face masks for frontline NHS and clinical staff; and
  • supported the national mass vaccination programme with marshalling, logistics
    and vaccinators.

The service contributed to the LRF response to the pandemic with:

  • communications to the public;
  • loggists (a loggist is a trained note taker for formal, emergency management meetings); and
  • staff to chair the tactical co-ordinating groups.

The service is a valued LRF partner. The chief fire officer is the chair of the LRF. The service takes part in regular training events with other members and uses the learning to develop planning assumptions about responding to major and multi-agency incidents.

The service keeps up to date with national learning

The service keeps itself up to date with joint operational learning updates from other fire services and national operational learning from other blue light partners, such as the police service and ambulance trusts. This learning is used to inform planning assumptions that have been made with other partners.