Fire Accountability Board Minutes 12 July 2022




PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Paul Fell (PF)

Helen King (HK)

Nicci Marzec (NM)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

CFO Darren Dovey (DD)

Area Manager Philip Pells (PP)

Area Manager Kerry Blair (KB)

Joint Head of Finance Nick Alexander (NA)


Minutes and Actions from previous meeting


SM welcomed everyone to the meeting

Apologies were accepted from ACFO Shaun Hallam, ACFO Rob Porter and ACO Paul Bullen

The minutes from the previous meeting were approved.

Relevant updates on any outstanding actions were provided and the Action Log updated.

As part of the actions there was an update on the discussion regarding the request to appoint two permanent posts from the carry forward request of £56K . The posts are Home Safety Advisers and would be funded in the long term buy stopping using the flexible arrangements which has an annual budget of £60K.

HK advised in her view this is not a permanent or base budget funded solution as it still infers there will be an extra resource need and does not permanently address the operational requirement for this area, nor does it address the PFCC request at the last Accountability Board for the tri-service opportunities he is keen to explore.

HK advised that the flexible spend is already £60K for the first quarter and if that level continued it could be circa £80K for the year, £20K over budget. The use of a Carry forward would give some breathing space to enable the backlog to be reduced whilst looking at a permanent operational solution.

DD advised that whilst Fire identify the need is for 4 posts (circa £120K)the option to recruit two posts and use flexible support would reduce the backlog over 12/18 months should move this forward.DD advises if after this time there is a need to still use flexible support then it can be built into the budget after that time.



Strategic outcomes requirements update


The Chief Fire Officer, as a part of the budget setting process for 2022/23, agreed a set of strategic outcome requirements with the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. These were set out and agreed in a letter.


The Commissioner requires a report which outlines the progress made against the achievement of these to the end of June 2022.


  • The Chief Fire Officer advised that he was now in receipt of the update on the Interoperability programme from ACFO Shaun Hallam and ACC Ash Tuckley but had not yet had the opportunity to full review this.
  • PF advised that he also had a copy which summarised what has been done to date. Now need to move forward and build momentum. The Commissioner responded by stating that he had been briefed on the report and agreed that we now needed to look forward but that did not mean he was content with the progress that had been made. He wanted greater energy to be put into this and both Chief Fire Officer and Chief Constable had agreed that more could be considered and done and that was his expectation this year.
  • The new Strategic Board will now work together and at pace to drive forward four key priority areas that have been agreed:
    • The development of the tri-service officer role
    • Community safety/prevention
    • Cadets and volunteers
    • JOT centre of excellence.
  • Work is now underway to scope out how these can be developed in line with the strategic intent of the Police, Fire and Crime Plan.
  • In relation to the four areas, it was agreed that a sensible timetable for delivery of the different stages needs to be agreed. PF will attend the meetings and manage on behalf of the Office.
  • Once opportunities and timelines have been scoped, these will then be socialised with the Chief Constable and Chief Fire Officer to ensure that they are operationally deliverable, before being brought to the Commissioner to ensure they meet his strategic vision.
  • There was a discussion about a fifth element which is the Joint Control room however this is currently being progressed and governed via the Estates Board.

Action – PF and SM to review the control room element following the next Estates Board on 19th July.


  • There was a discussion about potential industrial action and the likelihood that both on-call and fire control staff could strike alongside wholetime grey book staff.
  • The Chief Fire Officer confirmed that the Chief Officer teams have already started the conversation on what would need to put in place to mitigate.
  • The Commissioner put forward some additional options that he would also discuss with the Chief Constable.
  • There was a discussion about the Culture and People Strategy for 2021 – 2025 and comments made by HMICFRS that the Service has a good strategy, policy, and action plan but that it was not yet embedded in the organisation, with some resistance in places.
  • The Chief Fire Officer explained that the action plans and performance measures within the strategy along with the feedback from HMICFRS are under review and an EDI survey by Nelson Training had been completed and would also be considered as a part of this.
  • The survey has recently been completed as it was the first thing on the action plan and now needs to be reviewed to make sure it solves the problem.
  • An extraordinary FEG meeting is being arranged to review the findings and recommendations in the survey.
  • The Commissioner asked for a copy of the survey.

Action – DD to provide the Commissioner with a copy of the completed Nelson survey


  • The workforce development team is progressing an effective Leadership programme alongside a new talent and promotion process. investing in more leadership training.
  • A key focus of the leadership training is challenging poor or inappropriate behaviours, picking up issues and dealing with them effectively and in a timely manner.
  • It was recognised that this is an important area, and should any additional funding be required to support leadership development the Commissioner would be supportive
  • HK confirmed that money is available to be set aside to support improvements in the culture of NFRS when the plans for what are needed has been costed and can be shared
  • The Chief Fire Officer raised a concern about having more access to professional HR support following the move of some Fire staff to Enabling services.
  • It was agreed that The Chief Fire Officer should raise this with the Paul Bullen the Assistant Chief Officer for Enabling Services in the first instance.
  • HK added that from her understanding of the original HR Business case it was always signposted that the joint work and the scope it covered would be developed and refined over time so in her view this is a good time to have that conversation.
  • Both the Commissioner and Helen King requested that they are updated and provided copies of the plans once any discussion has taken place.


Action – DD to meet with PB to discuss HR support. Following that meeting DD to update SM and HK.


  • There was a discussion about the development of the tri-service officer role.
  • PF raised the risk that discussions will get stalled at an early stage if either the Force or Fire get hung up on the specifics of the role (Accredited coercive powers and on-call firefighter). He has counselled that we need to start with the overall strategic vision then bolt things on afterwards. The vision is for a multi agency worker that focuses on prevention and protection activities across our communities.
  • The Chief Fire Officer agreed – For example being 15 minutes away from a fire station but doing a Home Fire Safety Check is a better use of a tri-responders time than being within 5 minutes of a fire station with no fire to attend.
  • It was agreed that this will be a role which will start as part of a small team and evolve over time.
  • There was a discussion about the rationalisation of non-operational support posts.
  • The Chief Fire Officer confirmed that the five existing areas of enabling services continue to implement the agreed business cases along with research other opportunities for sharing non-operational departments.
  • The core SIT team has reduced from nine people to three as whilst lots of their work has transferred to Enabling Services, some work will have to stay within Fire. (Customer service desk, Exec support, information and admin management, some digital functions and strategic support).
  • The Chief Fire Officer explained that whilst some functions are better being shared, some should remain until the time is right for them to move across.
  • The Chief Constable is keen to wait for the new Chief Fire Officer to join before he commits to any further adjustments.
  • Line management for the functions that remain are now managed by Area Manager Kerry Blair.
  • The Commissioner reiterated that he is not looking for saving for saving sake, more the opportunity to invest in ensuring that processes as efficient as possible and encourage and support innovation.
  • There was a discussion about the Emergency Cover Review.
  • Kerry Blair confirmed that TOR’s have been agreed and project meetings have been arranged for the whole of phase 1.
  • Formal updates will be provided the Commissioner via the Accountability Board on a quarterly basis.
  • The Commissioner was content with this if Kerry regularly updates Paul Fell.

Action – PF to put monthly update in diary with KB


  • There was a discussion about when the HMICFRS report will be published.
  • The Chief Fire Officer confirmed that it will be published on 27th
  • The Final version may change as it is subject to moderation, NFRS responses and any additional checks.
  • The Commissioner commented that communication from HMICFRS with him had been poor on Fire when compared with Policing.
  • The Chief Fire Officer agreed and advised that he was going to raise this with Roy Wilsher particularly that the Liaison Officer for HMICFRS keeps changing.
  • There was a discussion about the proposed saving that the Service need to make as outlined in the MTFP.
  • Assurance was provided from Nick Alexander (Joint Head of Finance) that he has regular meetings with both Darren and Paul Bullen.
  • Monitoring reports are updated on a regular basis.
  • Nick confirmed that he is already having discussions with the Home Office to build in inflationary pressures including the rising cost of fuel and utilities
  • Salaries will also have an impact, if they increase too much then it adds further pressure to the MTFP but not increasing them has an impact on recruitment and retention.
  • This is the case for both in Policing and Fire.
  • There was a discussion about the Clock House development which will provide affordable accommodation to key workers including Police Officers and Firefighters.
  • The Commissioner asked LS to chase Cllr Nunn for an update on building progress.

Action – LS to chase Cllr Nunn on the progress of the Clock Tower.

Assurance Statement:

The Commissioner received an update from the Chief Fire Officer on progress in the first quarter against the outcomes referred to in the Strategic Outcomes Requirements letter.


He agreed that some progress had been made across the range of measures recorded within it.


The Commissioner made specific reference to aspects of the progress on Interoperability between Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and Northamptonshire Police and made the point that now a number of areas had been identified for further future development he expected to see more rapid progress on them.


There was a lengthy discussion on matters relating to equality, diversity and inclusion and the Commissioner summed this up by stating that there was much work still to do on this and this must now be a priority.


The Chief Fire Officer reported that work on his Emergency Cover Review was on track in line with agreed timescales for reporting. The Commissioner accepted a plan for monthly updates to be provided to his office by AM Kerry Blair on behalf of the Chief Fire Officer.


National Operational Guidance and Fire Standards.


In November 2021 the Chief Fire Officer presented the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, with a paper outlining progress in relation to the implementation of National Operational Guidance and Fire Standards into the service.


As agreed at that meeting the Commissioner requires a further report, outlining current progress.


  • Area Manager Phil Pells provided an update on the delivery of National Operational Guidance (NOG)
  • NOG was previously discussed at the November Accountability Board when the Commissioner received a report to explain what it was.
  • Phil advised that NOG continues to grow and that everything that the Service does as an organisation has a strategic action attached to it.
  • NOG activities are broken down into hazards encountered and measures to control or eliminate them.
  • There are currently 1,945 strategic actions that are measured, and these continue to increase.
  • Phil advised that HMICFRS have positively referenced key areas where the delivery of NOG supports our risk intelligence, Command training/competence, JESIP, operational learning, major incident response and response to Grenfell.
  • One of the gaps identified by HMICFRS was preparedness for a marauding terrorist attack. HMICFRS recognised the training and awareness work that had been undertaken but found that some staff still didn’t understand it.
  • It was acknowledged that further work in relation to response to terrorism will be required when the new national guidance for terrorism and MTA is published in 2022/23.
  • A full review of strategic actions has taken place in preparation of the Emergency Cover Review and potential themes from the Manchester Arena public enquiry.
  • A performance dashboard has been developed to support the NOG Delivery Group and Operational Assurance Board. This will ensure that progress continues to be made to complete the full gap analysis.
  • NFRS are currently 81% compliant. The main gaps in non-compliance (8%) are linked to trends emerging from NOG around Risk intelligence. Some of these will not be achievable, for example wildfires and putting in place site and water plans for all open space areas. Where it is deemed that this is the case locally the rationale and reasons for this will be properly documented.
  • NOG updates are available to all personnel via Fireplace.
  • There was a discussion about remote learning for On Call personnel and the associated cost with the increase in hours required to complete the training.
  • Phil advised that whilst the paper included previous costings from November, he did have an action to discuss this with NA. The paper based on Nov 21 info set out costings based on On Call staff claiming for remote learning. Depending on whether this is done on a 2-year, or 4-year planner additional costs range from £73k to £182K.
  • Making sure On-Call are NOG competent is biggest challenge.New NOG creates additional training requirements and this cannot be fitted into the current rolling pattern of Tuesday drill nights for on call firefighters. As such the service proposes the rollout of an e learning platform to support these personnel in undertaking this training without the need to attend formal drill nights.
  • Those on dual contracts will not need to complete the additional hours of training as they will have already completed it within their wholetime contract.
  • Nick confirmed £100k has been built into the base budget but will await the final proposal from Fire so that updated costings can be based on strength rather than establishment and look at the wider financial implications and aspects required for on-call.
  • HK requested that these costings include sensitivity analysis which looks at scenarios based on 2, 3 and 4 year implementations.
  • It was noted that other services have been unable to complete their training within the 2 year aspirations , therefore it will be looking at what is achievable balanced with affordability.

Fire Standards Board


  • Area Manager Kerry Blair provided an update on progress in relation to the implementation of Fire Standards into the Service.
  • There are currently 11 published Standards with more expected to come next year.
  • NFRS are fully compliant on one, partially compliant on eight with two currently being assessed.
  • Work continues to progress/complete compliance and are in varying stages. Some have more elements and are more complex.
  • There was a question about succession planning for Emergency Response Driving as the Service can no longer train its instructors in-house. Instructors need to be trained by a nationally recognised body.
  • Kerry confirmed this is being built into workforce planning and the additional burden is being managed.
  • The Commissioner commented that there were a number of references to some of the partially compliant standards being BAU by September. For example, Operational Learning has 26 key aspects and we are compliant in 25 of them.
  • For example, Safeguarding, Prevention and Protection are almost compliant.
  • It was agreed that Kerry would make determinations as to what work is left to meet the requirements on the remaining standards along with any other factors.


Action – Kerry to provide a timeline on when he expects to have achieved compliance on the remaining Standards.


  • Paul Fell added that he would ask Stuart McCartney in the OPFCC to review the Standards, to identify if there were requirement relating to the Authority as for example he knew that in the standard relating to the Code of Ethics there were responsibilities relating to the Fire Authority.

Action – Paul Fell to ask Stuart McCartney in the OPFCC to review the Standards to ascertain if there were requirement placed on the Fire Authority and if so to check whether these are compliant.


  • In closing, the Chief Fire Officer confirmed he is satisfied that all of the Standards are progressing.
  • Both NOG and Fire Standards have been a positive development as they provide a framework however conversely they create a huge amount of work.
  • Feedback across the Sector has been that these things are good but organisational effort is huge.
  • The Commissioner recognised this adding that we need to make sure that HMICFRS assess against the Standards implemented.

Assurance Statement:

AM Pells and Blair provided an update on the progress of the implementation of National Operational Guidance and Fire Standards.

It was noted that at this point there were over 1900 strategic actions agreed for NOG implementation; Progress was being made in relation to this and compliance overall in NFRS was positive at 81% and improving.

It was reported by the Chief Fire Officer that for small services like Northamptonshire some expectations were unrealistic and there will be a few instances where an evidenced based decision might need to be made, with rationale as to why compliance was not favourable.


The analysis that had been undertaken regarding the time allocated for On Call firefighter training would not be sufficient to allow full training to be NOG compliant. As such, NFRS have explored the options for an E learning platform that would allow greater flexibility in the delivery of this training. The Commissioner welcomed this and requested the associated costs are clearly identified for further discussion and approval where necessary.


In relation to Fire Standards implementation the Commissioner asked the Chief Fire Officer to provide him with an indicative implementation timeline for the published 11 standards.





  • There was a discussion about the potential threat of Industrial action.

Action – DD agreed to work up a plan which sets out the implications of any industrial action, particularly with regard to control room staff along with suggested mitigating actions. HK requested this is shared with NA and HK in order that the plan can be costed, and resources ring fenced where appropriate.

Action – DD to obtain legal advice in respect of missing persons and the firefighter role map.

No further business was raised.