Fire Accountability Board Minutes 11 July 2023

Welcome and introductions



Stephen Mold (SM)

Helen King (HK)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

A/CO Nicci Marzec (NM)

ACFO Rob Porter (RP)

T/ACFO Phil Pells (PP)

ACO Paul Bullen (PB)

GM Jason Urbani (JB)


Minutes and decisions of previous meeting


  • SM welcomed everyone to the meeting.
  • Apologies were accepted from Paul Fell
  • Minutes of the previous meeting were circulated with the meeting papers.


Strategic Outcomes Letter Requirements


As part of the budget setting process for 2023/2024, the Commissioner and Chief Fire Officer agreed a set of strategic outcome requirements outlining areas that were to be delivered in this financial year.


The Commissioner requires a paper which demonstrates the progress made to date, on the delivery of these agreed outcomes and measures.


  • The Commissioner commented that the paper provided by the former Chief Fire Officer required further work.
  • As a result, he would like to use this meeting to focus on the key matters that he would like the temporary CO to focus on.
  • HK suggested that it would be helpful to have an update on the interoperability work given that both ACFO Porter and T/ACFO Pells were present.
  • PP confirmed that RP Chairs the Interoperability Board with ACC Tuckley and tasks PP and Supt Helm with the work.
  • They met yesterday to discuss the TOR.
  • Some previous work by former ACC Andronov can be picked up where it was left off however there is work to do to link the proposed strategy to the Police, Fire and Crime Plan.
  • RP confirmed that at a recent meeting he attended, there was confusion around the lack of vision for their utilisation
  • The Commissioner confirmed that he was expecting a report from the Chief Constable next week, however if this did not meet his expectations, he was prepared to commission someone to progress this.
  • R observation was that there is a keenness to push the community safety aspect and not so much the operational element.
  • There was a discussion about the D&C tri-service model.
  • It was generally agreed that for them, the biggest beneficiary was on the medical health side.
  • Northants already has first aid community responders so the focus should be on a police/fire emergency response.
  • NM confirmed that EMAS are unlikely to contribute any funding. Public Health or NHFT are the two partners in this county who might be considered if the Commissioner still favoured the tri-service option.
  • The Commissioner agreed but reiterated that it had previously been agreed that a trial would be conducted in the south of the county where there are visibility issues both from the police and Fire.
  • The original suggestion was that they should be deployed in twos, and it was for the two Chiefs to agree how they would be employed.
  • The officers could be retained and there could also be a discussion on them having the ability to issues tickets on behalf of the local authority which would help alleviate parking issues.
  • The Commissioner was keen to not allow the role to be consumed by responding to health issues as was often the case in D&C.
  • RP confirmed that the conceptual thinking should be complete by the end of the week
  • The Commissioner confirmed he is happy to wait for that and looks forward to being updated.
  • JU advised that he was involved in the launch and tasking of the Joint Intervention Vehicles.
  • If the author of the report is going down the community safety route, Lisa Bryan will be best placed to lead for Fire.
  • NM commented that there are currently only two partners in the project and the focus should be on what they want to achieve from the pilot. If the role needs to be broader, that can be agreed when a decision is made as to who else to partner with.
  • However, it is important to ensure that the role addresses the on-call element otherwise there are still gaps and pinch-points in the Service.
  • RP agreed that the role needs to deliver benefits to both organisations.
  • The Commissioner added that it was always his intension that the role would have an operational element which supports pump availability in the areas of the county identified.
  • This would be a pilot for 2 – 3 years and it is expected that it won’t work perfectly straightaway but there is learning to be had from D&C, Essex and Yorkshire.
  • The Commissioner is accepting of the fact that the role may work differently in the North of the county and will be guided by the recommendations of both the Force and Fire. This was never expected to be a one size fits all model.
  • RP suggested that if the Commissioner wants to do this quickly the responders will need to be dual badged.
  • The Commissioner reiterated that he does want to do this quickly having already spent a considerable amount of time waiting for the two chiefs to agree a model that can be piloted as a genuine trial.
  • As previously stated, the money for the project has been set aside so there is no cost to either the Force or to Fire; More importantly it will provide additionally to both organisations and a better service to the people of Northamptonshire.
  • HK reiterated the commissioner point on additionally for the project that will have no impact on the Fire budget as funding has been ring fenced in reserves to support the project.
  • Moving on to the ECR, RP updated that this has now been commissioned (as of Monday 10 July)
  • M Berry is the SPOC and there will be a whole host of people with whom he wishes to speak to over the course of the summer.
  • There was a discussion about MLC and Moulton Fire station and the disaggregation of the site.
  • PP advised that an On-call crew is required within 5 minutes from that facility, but he has not been sighted on further proposal
  • The Commissioner reiterated that a decision was agreed at the Estates Board by the former Chief Fire Officer. The options are to sell the whole site and lease back the fire station or rent a new unit for them. Either way, whatever the remedy, there will be no loss of a pump.
  • On the wider Estates conversations, RP also confirmed he was a little out of the loop.
  • NM confirmed that she will meet will pick this up to ensure both chief officers are informed of the decisions taken.
  • There was a discussion about the Service’s response to the HMICFRS recommendations, Cause of Concern, and a wider plan to create a fair, equitable and inclusive workplace within NFRS.
  • RP confirmed there is an action plan which sit under the Senior Management Team. The action plans are embedded within the Business plans for each Head of Service/area managers and equivalents.
  • All are now sighted on the TOR
  • The Commissioner expressed his concern that NFR may have gone backwards where other Services have moved forwards on people and culture.
  • PP confirmed that NFRS have made improvements on both interoperability and the Manchester Arena report adding that a lot of good work has been done in this area.
  • On HMICFRS, PB reminded everyone that an extra grade has now been added to future inspections with ‘adequate’ being the same as the old ‘good’.
  • This should be highlighted to the Panel with a footnote to ensure they realise that the new grading doesn’t mean the standard has gone backwards.
  • RP confirmed that they have yet to hear when HMICFRS will be conducting their next inspection.
  • HK asked for an update on the People pillar.
  • PB confirmed that lot of activity is underway. He could not be confident however that behaviours on stations will be significantly different at this stage – culture change takes time.
  • JU added that stations have started the improvement journey and that it is largely just one or two individuals who need to change.
  • NM asked PB how he intends to keep that conversation going to ensure the culture continues to improve.
  • PB confirmed there has been really good engagement in ‘Serving with Pride’ and he will be able to show progress from what has been put into place.
  • The Commissioner asked if a decision had been made on confidential reporting, `where that be by Flag It or another independent route.
  • PB advised that ‘Flag It’ is being used. This is currently via email so whilst it is confidential it is not anonymous. This will be fixed next month when the Oracle licence is obtained.
  • Other independent routes will remain available for reporting any concerns including Fire Stoppers, an external group if a colleague doesn’t feel comfortable using an internal source.
  • There was a discussion about having a function similar to PSD in police.
  • PB confirmed the former Chief Fire Officer requested further work be completed on this at the last SMT.
  • That work is almost complete.
  • A final decision will be made shortly.
  • There was a discussion on a ‘pay as you use’ external service for conducting disciplinary investigation processes
  • The benefit of this option would mean that they will be commissioned to train managers on how to effectively deal with lower-level issues so that more serious allegations can be managed externally.
  • If in 2 years’ time confidence in the Services ability to manage internal complaints and concerns is higher, there is an opportunity to bring it back in house.
  • PB confirmed he will chase the paper on this and share it with NM.

Action – PB to chase the paper on the ‘pay as you use service regarding conducting disciplinary investigation processes and share it with NM.


  • The Commissioner confirmed that he was supportive of whichever route PB and the SLT agreed but he is keen to get it done so that fire colleagues feel that they can raise any concerns they have with confidence.
  • Overall, the Commissioner felt that some of the annual strategic outcome requirements had progressed, but others clearly need more work.
  • The Commissioner set out his expectations for a higher standard of paper at the next briefing on this.

Assurance statement:

The Commissioner expressed his dissatisfaction with the content and quality of the paper submitted to the accountability board on this subject and stated that he expected additional details to be included in future iterations.

 The contents of the report were used as a basis for discussion at the meeting, but it was lacking in a number of areas.


Performance Update


The Commissioner requires a report of the performance against the measures and metrics contained within the CRMP and internal NFRS performance framework to the end of Quarter 4 for 2022/2023.


  • Area Manager Jason Urbani provided an overview.
  • He confirmed that their data analyst has now transferred to Sarah Crampton’s team. This will benefit future reporting.
  • Sarah is looking at how data analysis and reporting can be moved forwards to have improved and live data.
  • PB confirmed that a second fire analyst will be joining the team shortly
  • There was a discussion about the use of Qlik versus Power BI.
  • The Commissioner confirmed he would be willing to supercharge the investment into Power BI and looked to HK for advice on how this could be done to the mutual benefit of both Services.
  • HK advised that if both services jointly advise and the PFCC agrees this is a priority there is an opportunity to consider making  some additional joint investment.
  • PB agreed to look at this.

Action – PB to investigate how additional investment into Power BI could benefit both Services in order to supercharge Fire data analysis capability.


  • JU provided an overview of the main headlines from the performance report.
  • The Service attended 5870 incidents in the past year, 2124 of which were fires.
  • A third of all incidents attended were false alarms.
  • There has been an increase in formal enforcement notices.
  • The Commissioner asked for more information about enforcement notices and whether this meant the Service was doing more, or better inspections.
  • JU said the stats were small and would ask the Head of Protection to provide the Commissioner with a more informed answer.

Action – JU to ask SR to provide more information about the number and types of enforcement notices.


  • Overall, demand increased last year but this was attributed to the spate conditions in August 2022.
  • Long-term and short-term sickness is improving but remains high.
  • Fire fatalities are very low (1)
  • The greatest risk continues to be on the county’s roads. (34 fatalities)
  • NFRS attended 459 RTC’s; 75 of those required extrication activity by fire crews.
  • There was a discussion about false alarms and non-fire related incidents.
  • RP confirmed that during peak times and if there is high incident demand there is a protocol for managing which calls Fire do not go out to.
  • On false alarms, the Commissioner asked if there was any trend data for false alarms; or any premises that they are more likely to occur in.
  • JU advised that he has requested further information for further analysis.
  • Strong call challenge measures are in place and there are lots of false alarm call outs that are not attended as a result.
  • On non-fire related incidents, the Commissioner was keen to understand what is driving the increase in this call type, particularly given the cost of sending an appliance to respond.
  • JU advised that this is largely due to an increase in support required to both EMAS and to the police for example calling for support when dealing with someone who is suicidal.
  • PP confirmed there is an increased national trend of Fire and Rescue Services attending suicides. From a training perspective there is an opportunity to look at engagement skills (police negotiator role)
  • The Commissioner discussed how police have a Grading system for both urban and rural incidents and suggested that a similar approach for Fire might be built into the CRMP.
  • It was agreed that if the opportunity to do this was missed years ago when Vision was configured however if the new Vision can be configured better it could save time.
  • PB confirmed it will be built into the new Vision system.
  • The Commissioner added that this could be another benefit of the tri-service model which he is keen to pilot.
  • There was a discussion about Secondary fires and a big spike in August 2022 due to the spate conditions at that time.
  • The Commissioner asked what work is being done with schools to educate young people on the risks associated with deliberately starting fires.
  • RP confirmed that there was lots of activity happening in schools in conjunction with the police.
  • RP also updated on the CRMP action around climate change, wildfires, and flooding. There is a document that outlines both the prevention and operational activities.
  • On Appliance availability, JU confirmed this has remained relatively static over the past 24 months.
  • From Dec 22 paid/banked appliances was amended from 18 to 14 but there have been occasions where cover has dropped below 14 for short periods.
  • The Commissioner asked what the operational recommendation is.
  • RP advised that the peak times of 6am – 8am and in the evening between 5pm and 7pm are the pressure points when there is less availability from on-call firefighters.
  • JU confirmed the other issue is that bank shifts are being offered, but people don’t want the Overtime.
  • PP advised that the Pace setter average is still 14 and there are only 1 or 2 hours a day when availability reduces to 12.
  • RP confirmed he will review and provide information as to how long and how often the 14-pump model is under pressure and provide that information to the PFCC.
  • NM commented that understanding whether the fire risk is higher or lower in those peak times is key.
  • RP confirmed pump availability is monitored daily.
  • The ECR should help address.

Action – RP to review and provide information as to how long and how often the 14-pump model is under pressure and provide that information to the PFCC.


  • On response times, all incident call mobilisations have seen a slight increase from previous period of 5 seconds, this is still lower than the preceding two reporting periods.
  • Most notable is the increase in RTC response times. This is often due to the remote rural locations of these incidents or the heavy build-up of traffic.
  • Further work is being undertaken to understand and map this data due to the increase from the previous 3 years.
  • The Commissioner stated that he was genuinely interested in receiving more detail and was pleased to see that this was started to be measured.
  • On Protection and Prevention, the Commissioner acknowledged the good work being done in both areas with visits and activity showing a marked increase.
  • Overall, the Commissioner was pleased with the work highlighted in the performance report and the work being delivered.

Assurance Statement

 The Commissioner welcomed the report and noted the increases in demand in some areas of the business but also noted than in many cases, this was because of the summer 2022 spate conditions and therefore it was too early to determine any longer-term trend in demand for the service.

 He welcomed the fact that casualties were low, and the work achieved by protection and prevention teams was making the county safer.

 He was also pleased with the discussions regarding the potential bringing together of the BI and data staff for Fire and Police and the progression to get better live time data for NFRS




  • Following the departure of the Chief Fire Officer, the Commissioner was keen to ensure that everyone was pulling together.
  • He was keen to work with the management team to unblock anything that was holding up progress, increase momentum and regain the initiative to keep things moving forward.
  • PP suggested that there are some quick wins to support this.