There is a legal requirement upon each Fire Authority to provide a publically facing Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP). This document determines how the Fire Authority will meet the needs of the local community and must include how the balance will be made between their Prevention, Protection, Response and Resilience (PPR&R) initiatives.
The IRMP requires an account of risk analysis and how this has been applied based on the demand and demographics of each area. This has meant formulating clear proposals for new ways of working in which a Fire and Rescue Service can be structured and delivered. Services must sustain maximum efficiencies whilst maintaining the highest standards and performance measures quantified locally. This has led to many differing solutions in the way Fire and Rescue Services determine risk, allocate resources and define response standards. This methodology needs to be presented for consideration by the Service, the relevant Fire Authority or governing body and by the public. However, inconsistency still remains within this process. Fire and Rescue Services are funded in different ways and this can impact the budgetary requirements around PPR&R. Whilst one Fire and Rescue Service may choose to review Response standards, another may choose Prevention initiatives as the way forward. Protection resourcing seems to have waivered in recent years and according to the recent tranche of HMICFRS inspections, Resilience is starting to factor in on IRMP methodology with many Fire and Rescue Services.
There is limited standardisation to Response standards across England and Wales. This can make benchmarking and comparing performance between Fire Services challenging. An opinion mirrored recently by HMI Zoe Billingham in her second tranche summary of the HMICFRS findings on Fire and Rescue Service Inspections.
“In summary, 45 different ways of defining and doing things is not helpful in some situations. There should be more consistency, for example, in how fire and rescue services define risk and calculate and communicate response standards to the public.”
Targets for responding to incidents tend to range from 8-mins to 15-mins with a varying percentage target but each service may have a different method of measuring this performance. For example, the metric may account for factors such as incident type (life risk vs non-life risk) or location of incident (urban and rural), each potentially having different pre-determined allocation strategies.
Although the underlying trend has been a declining Response performance, most Fire and Rescue Services have a good handle on responding to incidents, a view echoed in the recent tranche of HMICFRS inspections. Services in which we’ve seen effective IRMP initiatives tend to understand the inherent risk and demand that exists within their local areas and are able to support their decision making with a clear evidence base. Services having the ability to answer questions around optimal location of resources particularly during a period of estate rationalisation, demonstrates a strong grasp on the problem.
Quote – Much of the work around IRMP was focused on the risk profile and scenario modelling to ensure that we had a clear understanding of all the potential implications decisions would have. This is where tools such as Fire Incident Response Model and Facility Location Planner were key.
Many published IRMP documents tend to focus on the Response, with less attention given to Prevention measures. In a time when overall budgets have significantly reduced, it is clear that many Fire and Rescue Services have seen resourcing and activity levels in Prevention and Protection dramatically reduce. The services in which we’ve seen effective IRMPs have strived to understand the link between Prevention activity and demand driven initiatives. These organisations have looked to effectively target the resources that they do have on areas with the highest levels of risk and vulnerability by investigating current trends and historic demand data.
Overall the trend has been a movement within the Protection area towards a greater reliance on legislative frameworks, much of this may be driven by budgetary constraints. From our experience, there are significant differences in the way in which the Protection agenda is applied. Most Fire and Rescue Services do the statutory minimum and have reduced the size of their teams against the few that have interpreted the introduction of the Regulatory Reform Order 2005 legislation slightly differently and have maintained their capacity. This has led to a sharp fall in the number of qualified and experienced Protection officers within the Fire and Rescue Service nationally.
Even within Fire and Rescue Services there tend to be differences in the way in which the Protection and Prevention agenda is implemented, much in the same way that duty systems differ across stations, the latent capacity available to carry out inspections and educational visits now vary from area to area.
- Risk Based Inspection Programmes (RBIP)
- Strategy that can be implemented
- Using powers appropriately
- The ability to empower communities to plan for, deal with and recover from incidents in their locality.
Not all IRMP’s factor Resilience in as part of the methodology behind the document structure whereas some services emphasize the importance of this role within their local communities, especially those with a majority of rural orientated stations.
There are many incident types that can affect whole communities, all of which can have far-reaching impacts. Working with local communities is extremely important to improve safety and aid recovery from incidents.
Many Fire and Rescue Services are working closely with their partner agencies in targeted areas to assist communities and local businesses with pre-planning and education, enabling them to become more resilient to emergencies. Officers dedicated to the cause, identify and establish appropriate resources within the community. They provide information to raise awareness and improve knowledge where needed to help minimise disruption and reduce the dangers of large emergencies.
- Effective IRMP has to be balanced
- Protection is an area we’d expect to be a real focus – particularly with the publication of the [x] Report (Grenfell)
- HMICFRS Inspection Programme finishes Autumn 2019 – Outcomes
- NFCC Community Risk Programme and Digital Programme