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Cleveland 2021/22

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 20/01/2023
Good

Cleveland Fire Brigade’s overall effectiveness is good.

Cleveland Fire Brigade was good in its 2018/19 assessment

Cleveland Fire Brigade is good at providing an effective fire and rescue service.

It has improved its understanding of risk, its fire prevention, its fire protection, how it responds to fires and its planning for major incidents, so we grade it as good. But improvements to the quality assurance of prevention activities need to continue developing and to become established.

The brigade has introduced a new community risk management plan (CRMP) (which is what it calls its integrated risk management plan) for 2022–26, with 9 clear priorities. We look forward to seeing how the brigade meets these commitments, and how it evaluates the effect of its activities.

There are still problems with staff recruitment and retention in fire protection, although we saw how new operational staff are being trained in this area to support succession planning.

The brigade is still good at operational response and at how it plans to deal with major incidents. It is actively involved with the local resilience forum (LRF).

Questions for Effectiveness

1

How effective is the FRS at understanding the risk of fire and other emergencies?

Good

Cleveland Fire Brigade is good at understanding risk.

Cleveland Fire Brigade 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.

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

The brigade is good at identifying and understanding community risk

The brigade has assessed an appropriate range of risks and threats after a thorough IRMP process. When assessing risk, it considers relevant information collected from a broad range of internal and external sources and datasets, including:

  • local population and social demographics;
  • local health authority profiles;
  • crime rates and the indices of deprivation;
  • national and local risk registers;
  • previous demand for services;
  • private and business property risks;
  • transport risks;
  • environmental risks; and
  • transport-related risks.

When appropriate, the brigade has consulted and undertaken constructive dialogue with communities and others such as:

  • employee and staff groups;
  • members of the public;
  • health and safeguarding partner organisations;
  • industrial and commercial businesses; and
  • local and regional politicians and political groups.

This helps the brigade both to understand the risk and explain how it intends to mitigate it.

The CRMP is up to date and easy to understand

After assessing relevant risks, the brigade has recorded its findings in an easily understood CRMP. 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. For example, the CRMP details nine priorities for the brigade over the next four years. Of these nine priorities, three relate to prevention work, two to fire protection, and two to operational response. All nine priorities clearly state the main improvement actions and how the brigade intends to carry these out. This means the public can see what their brigade aims to achieve and can hold them to account for the duration of the CRMP.

The brigade gathers, maintains and shares a good range of risk information

The brigade routinely collects and updates the information it has about the people, places and threats it has identified as being at greatest risk. This includes details of premises that present the greatest risk to the community and to firefighters at these sites. But it also includes temporary risks, such as major events held at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough, and short-term changes to existing risks, such as sprinkler systems being unavailable at high-risk sites.

This information is readily available for the brigade’s prevention, protection, and response staff, which helps it to identify, reduce and mitigate risk effectively. For example, we saw how information was passed between operational crews and the fire protection unit when fire safety concerns were identified, and between prevention staff and crews when high-risk residents were identified.

Where appropriate, risk information is passed on to other organisations. Examples include sharing information on risks in licensed premises with the local licensing authority. Information is also shared between the local authority building control and the brigade. This makes sure everyone is aware of any buildings or businesses that have increased levels of risk or non-compliance with regulations.

The brigade uses operational activity to help build its understanding of risk

The brigade 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. For example, we saw how risk information was updated after the discovery of hazardous materials at a disused site following a fire. This information was shared through the formal debriefing process to make all staff aware of this type of risk.

The brigade has developed risk information for high-rise sites following the fire at Grenfell Tower

During this round of inspections, we sampled how each fire and rescue service has responded to the recommendations and learning from Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Cleveland Fire Brigade has responded positively and proactively to learning from this tragedy. The brigade assessed the risk of each high-rise building in its area before 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 that installed on Grenfell Tower. The brigade now holds more detailed information on high-rise premises in its area. It also has action plans for crews attending incidents at these sites.

2

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

Good

Cleveland Fire Brigade is good at preventing fires and other risks.

Cleveland Fire Brigade 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, and with the police and ambulance services. They should provide intelligence and risk information with these other organisations when they identify vulnerability or exploitation.

Areas for improvement

The brigade should continue to improve quality assurance of its prevention work.

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

The brigade’s prevention strategy is integrated with its CRMP

The brigade’s prevention strategy is clearly linked to the risks identified in its community risk profile. The prevention strategy is integrated within the CRMP, showing clearly how prevention work is linked to local risks. Every type of risk contains details of how the prevention strategy aims to reduce or prevent the risk from happening.

The brigade’s teams work well together and with other relevant organisations on prevention, and it shares relevant information when needed. Information is used to adjust planning assumptions and direct activity between the brigade’s prevention, protection and response functions. For example, the brigade works with health and local authorities. These refer vulnerable residents to the brigade so that they can receive safer home visits (which are similar to a home fire safety check). The brigade also works with the Road Safety GB North East to help reduce road deaths and injuries in the local area.

The brigade adapted its prevention activities well during the pandemic

We considered how the brigade had adapted its prevention work during our COVID-19 specific inspection in November 2020. At that time, we found it had adapted its public prevention work appropriately. Since then, we are encouraged to find that the brigade has continued with improvements to its safer home visits. Staff can now carry out safer homes assessments virtually or by telephone, as well as face to face. Members of the public can also use an online self-assessment tool to assess risks for themselves.

During the pandemic, the brigade supported the community, with staff taking on a range of roles and responsibilities, including:

  • driving ambulances;
  • delivering personal protective equipment;
  • carrying out vaccinations;
  • providing training for care home staff; and
  • supporting test and trace.

The brigade has made good improvements with its targeting of prevention activities

Prevention activity is clearly prioritised using a risk-based approach towards people most at risk from fire and other emergencies. For example, the brigade now prioritises residents who are classed as very high or high risk by using a new targeting methodology. This has improved targeting and means it can respond more quickly to urgent referrals.

The brigade takes account of a broad range of information and data to target its prevention activity at vulnerable individuals and groups. This includes data from the Office for National Statistics, as well as relevant health data and statistics for fire deaths and injuries.

It provides a range of interventions that it adapts to the level of risk in its communities. These include:

  • safe and well visits;
  • school education work;
  • prevention work following incidents in local areas;
  • ‘prevention of deliberate fire setting’ programmes;
  • working with young people and running diversionary schemes;
  • health screening and home health work; and
  • road safety initiatives.

Staff are confident and competent at carrying out safe and well visits

Staff in wholetime and on-call roles 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. Staff all told us they were trained and confident with carrying out safe and well visits. Dedicated prevention staff also carry out safe and well visits as part of their role. We found that the brigade has made improvements to the quality assurance of its safe and well visits. It has done this by using digital platforms to direct staff through the process and better record the results of the visits.

Brigade staff are well trained and practised at handling safeguarding concerns

Staff we interviewed told us about occasions when they had identified safeguarding problems. They told us they feel confident and trained to act appropriately and promptly. We found staff had appropriate training. In most cases they were also experienced at identifying vulnerable members of the community and knew how to use recognised safeguarding channels. We also heard how specialist staff in the four community hubs give good support to operational crews helping vulnerable people in the community.

Collaborations are focused and targeted

The brigade works with a wide range of other organisations such as Cleveland Police, local authorities, and the Teeswide Safeguarding Adults Board to prevent fires and other emergencies.

We found good evidence that it routinely refers people at greatest risk to other organisations which may be better able to meet their needs. These organisations include local authorities and health authorities, who also make referrals to the brigade. The brigade acts appropriately on the referrals it receives. For example, it carries out an assessment to prioritise referrals. This assessment uses five levels of risk, from very low through to very high risk.

The brigade 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 brigade is a partner on the Cleveland Strategic Road Safety Partnership. The brigade works at a strategic and operational level to agree actions and help carry out awareness and education campaigns throughout Cleveland. A recent example is its involvement in Project EDWARD (Every Day Without a Road Death), a Europe-wide road safety campaign.

Tackling fire-setting behaviour is a priority for the brigade

The brigade recognises it has a serious problem with deliberate fires in the local area. It treats this as a priority issue.

The brigade has a range of suitable and effective interventions to target and educate people of different ages who show signs of fire-setting behaviour. For example, the brigade works closely with Hartlepool Borough Council to identify and tackle anti-social behavour and reduce crime in the Hartlepool area. This work is co-ordinated from a single office where staff from Cleveland Fire Brigade, Cleveland Police and Hartlepool Borough Council work together.

The brigade also supports arson reduction. Crews are involved in litter-picking days, which reduce opportunities for deliberate fire setting. They also carry out school talks and run diversionary schemes for young people, such as Shout Out and Kick About which encourages them to play football and take part in other activities, rather than set fires.

When appropriate, it routinely shares information with other relevant organisations, such as Cleveland Police and social services, to support the prosecution of arsonists. The brigade seconded an officer to Cleveland Police to support changes in national standards for fire investigation practice.

The brigade has supported the police to convict several arsonists since our last inspection. The offenders received custodial sentences.

The brigade needs to keep improving how it evaluates and quality assures its prevention activities

The brigade has good evaluation tools in place. But at the time of this inspection, the framework for quality assurance had only evaluated the safer home visits, not the brigade’s full range of prevention activities.

We were told the framework is a four-year programme of compliance audits, designed to evaluate every area of prevention. We look forward to seeing how this work continues to improve prevention activities.

Prevention activities do take account of feedback from the public, other organisations, and other parts of the brigade. The brigade received a good rating from the Teeswide Safeguarding Adults Board. This was through an external, quality assurance audit that identified the brigade as an example of a good way of working for other organisations in the partnership.

Feedback is used by the brigade to inform its planning assumptions and amend future activity, so it is focused on what the community needs and what works.

3

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

Good

Cleveland Fire Brigade is good at protecting the public through fire regulation.

Cleveland Fire Brigade 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.

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

Fire protection strategy is integrated well with the CRMP

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

Staff across the brigade are involved in this activity, with information effectively exchanged as needed. For example, operational staff routinely carry out audits of lower-risk premises, allowing them to identify dangerous situations. This information is passed on to dedicated fire protection staff who take appropriate action, as needed. Frontline staff have Level 3 and Level 4 fire safety qualifications, which means premises can be inspected by staff with suitable skills for the level of risk.

The brigade adapted its protection work well to support businesses during the pandemic

We considered how the brigade had adapted its protection activity during our COVID-19 specific inspection in November 2020. At that time, we found it had adapted its protection work well. Since then, we are encouraged to find that the brigade has continued to offer businesses improved access to support and information via its website. It has returned to on-site inspections of premises.

The brigade has made improvements to prioritise the highest risks in its RBIP

In our last inspection, we said that the brigade’s RBIP needed to prioritise the highest risk premises. The RBIP is now aligned to guidance provided by the National Fire Chiefs’ Council (NFCC) and prioritises risks appropriately. The brigade uses relative-risk scores and applies locally determined risk factors to make the RBIP targeted and relevant.

The brigade has seen an increase in unsatisfactory audits, from 12 percent in 2019/20 to 21 percent in 2020/21. This suggests better targeting of non-compliant premises, consistent with the Regulators’ Code.

Timescales set by the brigade for the auditing of premises are based on risk. Very-high-risk premises will be audited every six months; high-risk premises every year; and medium-risk premises every four years. This gives the brigade an ambitious target of around 2,000 audits every year. We look forward to seeing how well it achieves this aim.

The brigade has carried out audits of high-risk, high-rise buildings

Audits have been carried out at all high-rise buildings the brigade 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 brigade carried out this work before the deadline of November 2021. It is now working with housing providers and local authority building control to make sure all remedial improvements are carried out.

The brigade is good at quality assuring its protection work and fire safety audits

Quality assurance of protection activity takes place in a proportionate way. The brigade has now aligned its quality assurance with guidance provided by the NFCC. This means that a minimum of one audit type from each auditor is quality assured every year. There is also a process to check and quality assure all formal notices before they are served.

The brigade has good evaluation tools in place to measure the effectiveness of its activity and to make sure all sections of its communities get appropriate access to the protection services that meet their needs.

We reviewed a range of audits of different premises across the brigade. This included audits as part of the brigade’s RBIP, after fires at premises where fire safety legislation applies, where enforcement action had been taken and at high-rise, high-risk buildings.

The audits we reviewed were completed to a high standard in a consistent, systematic way, and in line with the brigade’s policies. Relevant information from the audits is made available to operational teams and control room operators.

The brigade’s use of enforcement powers is increasing because of staff’s enhanced skills and knowledge

The brigade is increasing its use of enforcement powers. The brigade didn’t carry out any prosecutions in the 5 years up to the end of March 2021. But we were told that in 2021/22, they carried out a prosecution, as well as issued 2 formal cautions. The brigade told us it is also processing seven cases that are being considered for prosecution. We were told the increased enforcement activity is a direct result of the brigade’s RBIP and staff’s improved skills and knowledge.

In the year to 31 March 2021, the brigade issued:

  • 0 alteration notices;
  • 79 informal notifications;
  • 9 enforcement notices; and
  • 22 prohibition notices.

Recruitment and retention problems are being addressed

The brigade doesn’t have enough qualified protection staff to fully support its audit and enforcement activity. This makes it difficult for it to carry out its full range of planned protection activities.

But the brigade is training more staff at junior levels to improve the recruitment situation for the future, including 55 firefighters, 28 crew managers and 31 watch managers. Staff working in protection are supported with appropriate training and have funded access to accreditation with professional bodies.

At the time of inspection, 2 members of the fire engineering team were awaiting confirmation of their Level 4 Diploma in Fire Safety and 4 team members were awaiting confirmation of their Level 3 Certificate in Fire Safety, before they begin working towards their Level 4 Diploma.

Once these qualifications are confirmed the fire protection team will have enough resources, and a greater pool of qualified people for future need.

The brigade is good at working with other agencies to protect the public

The brigade works closely with other enforcement agencies to regulate fire safety and routinely exchanges risk information with them. We saw evidence of how the brigade collaborates with these agencies to share information and intelligence, and co-ordinates inspection activities to reduce the burden of regulation on local businesses. Examples given to us included joint inspections of licensed premises and general stores selling fireworks for bonfire night and religious festivals.

The brigade responds to statutory consultations for building regulations and licensing on time

The brigade responds to building consultations on time, so consistently meets its statutory responsibility to comment on fire safety arrangements at new and altered buildings. In 2020/21, the brigade responded to 95.7 percent of 327 building regulations consultations within the required timescale, and to 99.6 percent of 229 licensing consultations within the required timescale.

The brigade has improved how it shares information about fire safety regulations with local businesses

In our last inspection, we noted the brigade needed to improve how it shares details of fire regulations with small businesses. The brigade has made improvements to the information available on its website. It has also increased its use of social media to promote local and national fire safety campaigns.

The brigade also offers business safety advice by interacting with local businesses through small business groups and The Federation of Small Businesses, as well as running articles in Tees Business magazine.

The brigade has a proactive policy for reducing unwanted fire signals

The brigade has an effective risk-based approach in place to manage the number of unwanted fire signals. In October 2021, the brigade introduced a new policy for managing unwanted fire signals, which now includes the option of cost recovery for nuisance premises. At the time of this inspection, the brigade was considering charges for three premises.

The brigade does get fewer calls because of the work it has taken to reduce unwanted fire signals. The number of fire false alarms attended has fallen from 3,194 in 2016/17 to 2,775 in 2020/21. From 2017/18 to 2020/21, the brigade increased the number of automatic fire alarms it didn’t attend from 21 percent to 31 percent.

Fewer unwanted calls means that fire engines are available to respond to a genuine incident rather than responding to a false one. It also reduces the risk to the public if fewer fire engines travel at high speed on the roads.

4

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

Good

Cleveland Fire Brigade is good at responding to fires and other emergencies.

Cleveland Fire Brigade 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.

Areas for improvement

The brigade should improve how it plans and carries out familiarisation visits by operational crews at high-risk premises.

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

The brigade has a clear and flexible response strategy

The brigade’s response strategy is linked to the risks identified in its CRMP. Its fire engines and response staff, as well as its working patterns, are designed and located to help the brigade to respond flexibly to fires and other emergencies with the appropriate resources. For example, the brigade has a combination of wholetime fire stations, with firefighters who are immediately available, and on-call fire stations staffed by firefighters who live and work locally and respond within five minutes of a call to areas of lower risk.

The brigade has 21 fire engines, but has adopted a flexible approach to availability. This means it aims to keep 14 to 18 fire engines immediately available at any time, depending on risk and demand.

Response standards are clear and consistently achieved

There are no national response standards of performance for the public. But the brigade has set out its own response standards in its CRMP. The brigade aims to have the following resources in attendance within the stated times:

  • First fire engine at all property fires within an average of seven minutes.
  • Second fire engine (where needed) at all property fires within an average of ten minutes.
  • First fire engine at all road traffic collisions with an identified risk to life within an average of eight minutes.
  • All resources for a ‘reasonably worst-case scenario’ for high-risk sites within an average of 20 minutes.

The brigade consistently meets its standards. Home Office data shows that in the year to 31 December 2021, the brigade’s response time to primary fires was 6 minutes and 35 seconds. This is 55 seconds faster than the average of 7 minutes and 30 seconds for predominantly urban services.

Availability is flexible and consistently achieved

To support its response strategy, the brigade aims to have an optimum of 14 to 18 fire engines available, from a fleet of 21 fire engines. This gives an optimum availability of between 66.7 and 85.7 percent. The overall average availability of all appliances for the year ending March 2021 was 86.2 percent. The average availability of wholetime fire engines was 98.8 percent, and the average availability of on-call fire engines was 65.7 percent. The brigade knows that it needs to improve the availability of its on-call fire engines.

Incident commanders are trained and assessed to national standards

The brigade has trained incident commanders who are assessed regularly and properly. Incident commanders are either trained in-house, through externally accredited trainers and assessors, or they are trained and accredited using a third-party provider. All incident commanders complete two separate days of professional development every year at the brigade development centre. These days include an individual assessment of incident command skills. They are the minimum requirement for maintaining competence.

This maintenance of competence helps the brigade 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 brigade. The incident commanders we interviewed are familiar 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).

Integration of control staff is good

We are pleased to see the brigade’s control staff integrated into the brigade’s command, training, exercise, debrief and assurance activity.

We saw evidence that control staff are routinely involved in the planning of exercises, as well as being involved in the provision of training and exercise. This was especially evident in recent training on new procedures for implementing the recommendations from Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Staff also told us they are invited to attend structured debriefs and are encouraged to make submissions for the full range of operational incidents, as well as receiving operational bulletins containing learning from the debrief process.

The brigade has implemented the national recommendations for handling multiple fire survival guidance calls well

The control room staff we interviewed were confident they could provide fire survival guidance to many callers simultaneously. This was identified as learning for fire services after the Grenfell Tower 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 helps the brigade to communicate effectively with the public, providing them with accurate and tailored advice.

These systems have been developed in-house by Cleveland Fire Brigade and make use of bespoke technology and existing facilities. We look forward to seeing how it continues to be developed and tested for real-life situations.

More training is needed for staff on how to handle calls from people who don’t easily understand English

Our inspection found that staff in the control room weren’t well trained or practised in handling calls from people who don’t easily understand English. The brigade has access to a service to help with this, but it wasn’t well understood by staff, and training on using the service was limited.

The brigade must make sure that all staff are aware of the tools available for speaking with members of the public for whom English isn’t their first language.

Reassuringly, staff in control did have a good awareness of how to use tools to communicate with people with speech and/or hearing difficulties.

Risk information is current and accessible

We sampled a range of risk information, including what is in place for firefighters responding to incidents at high-risk, high-rise buildings and what information is held by fire control.

The approach taken by the brigade to gather, risk-rate and categorise risk information is consistent with the general approach supported by the national provision of risk information methodology.

The risk 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 brigade’s prevention, protection, and response functions when appropriate.

In 2020/21 the brigade had 808 sites eligible for familiarisation visits, and the brigade has a target of 144 visits for the year. It completed a total of 176 visits for that period.

The brigade is good at evaluating operational performance and implementing national operational guidance

As part of the inspection, we reviewed a range of emergency incidents and training events. These included a protracted fire involving unidentified hazardous waste at a site of scientific interest, and two multi-agency exercises to test procedures for high-rise incidents and terrorist-related incidents.

We are pleased to see the brigade routinely follows its policies to assure itself that staff command incidents in line with operational guidance. Internal risk information is updated with the information received. This information is exchanged with other interested partners such as neighbouring fire and rescue services, local authorities and Cleveland Police.

The brigade has responded to learning from incidents and exercises to improve its service for the public. For example, it identified a gap in knowledge around removing personal devices, such as smart watches, before entering potentially explosive atmospheres.

We are encouraged to see the brigade is contributing towards, and acting on, learning from other fire and rescue services or operational learning gathered from other emergency service partners. This includes examples of risks associated with the use of hand sanitiser, and risks from the accidental ignition of unventilated gases in voids and ducts.

The brigade has improved at keeping the public informed during and after incidents

The brigade has improved at keeping the public informed to help keep them safe during and after incidents. Changes include updating its website to have a dedicated page for incidents; a new policy that promotes greater use of social media; and improved staff training for media interviews.

5

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

Good

Cleveland Fire Brigade is good at responding to major and multi‑agency incidents.

Cleveland Fire Brigade 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 brigade has good preparations for major and multi-agency incidents

The brigade 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 CRMP. For example, the community risk register includes plans and preparations for a range of incident types and emergency scenarios, such as flooding, industrial accidents, environmental effects and terrorist-related incidents.

It is also familiar with the significant risks that could be faced by neighbouring fire and rescue services that it might reasonably be asked to respond to in an emergency. These include high-rise incidents and possible terrorist attacks. Firefighters have access to risk information from neighbouring services. This information is shared through a portal called Resilience Direct, which is a secure platform that all emergency services have access to. Any updates submitted through Resilience Direct are uploaded to fire engines in Cleveland within 24 hours.

The brigade has improved how it prepares staff for responding to major and multi-agency incidents

We reviewed the arrangements the brigade has in place to respond to different major incidents. Our inspection included reviewing the brigade’s arrangements for incidents involving high-rise buildings and terrorist-related incidents. These are areas we identified for improvement in our last full inspection.

This inspection showed good improvements with arrangements and plans for these types of incidents, which are well understood by staff. For example, the brigade has exercised its arrangements for dealing with fires in high-rise buildings, and carried out training for all staff to respond to terrorist-related incidents. The brigade still has detailed plans for dealing with incidents at industrial sites covered by the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulations.

The brigade is well practised at working with other fire services

The brigade supports other fire and rescue services responding to emergency incidents. For example, it has legal agreements in place to work cross-border with both County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Services, as well as North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. It is intraoperable with these services on a regular basis and can form part of a multi-agency response.

The brigade has used national assets, including high-volume pumps to support a complicated incident in 2019 which lasted for several days and needed large volumes of water.

The brigade has also identified four sites within Cleveland that can be used to host national assets. The major events management team has arrangements in place to support the logistics of a major incident or event.

Plans for cross-border exercising are comprehensive but need to be implemented

The brigade has a cross-border exercise plan with neighbouring fire and rescue services so that they can work together effectively to keep the public safe. The plan includes the risks of major events at which the brigade could foreseeably provide support or request assistance from neighbouring services. We were encouraged to see that feedback from exercises that have taken place is used to inform risk information and brigade plans.

But plans for more regular cross-border exercises need to be carried out now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

JESIP training and exercising is integrated with incident command skills

The incident commanders we interviewed had been trained in and were familiar with JESIP.

The brigade provided strong evidence that it consistently follows these principles. This includes the application of JESIP in all command training and assessments, as well as in multi-agency exercises and incidents.

Cleveland Fire Brigade is also the lead agency for the regional JESIP strategic co-ordinating group for exercising and debriefing in the North East.

There are good working arrangements with other partners

The brigade has good arrangements in place to respond to emergencies with other partners that make up the Cleveland Local Resilience Forum. These arrangements include planning and preparations for major incidents under statutory regulations for COMAH sites, and plans to mitigate risks identified in the community risk register.

The brigade is a valued partner and member of the LRF. The brigade sat on the strategic co-ordinating group during the pandemic and chaired the tactical co-ordinating group. The brigade is represented on several working groups within the LRF. These include the blue-light group, the business continuity group, the excess deaths management group, the Resilience Direct group, the risk assessment group and the training and exercising group.

The brigade takes part in regular training events with other members of the LRF and uses the learning to develop planning assumptions about responding to major and multi-agency incidents. During the pandemic, we were told by external partners how the brigade supported the LRF by maintaining the statutory testing of off-site COMAH plans. This was achieved by adapting the plans so they could be tested in a virtual environment. This resulted in 20 plans being tested, preventing a challenging backlog after the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

The brigade actively shares and receives joint and national learning

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

During this inspection we saw evidence of how the brigade made submissions through the joint organisation learning process to share learning with other services and organisations. This included learning on how to adapt the testing of COMAH plans, and learning about the risk of wearing personal devices in potentially explosive atmospheres.

We also saw evidence of how the brigade received learning from other services and shared this internally. Examples included sharing risks associated with the poor ventilation of explosive gases, the risks associated with static electricity, and the use of hand sanitiser in high-risk environments.

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