Fire Accountability Board Minutes 12 March 2024

Welcome and introductions.



PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Jonny Bugg (JB)

Vaughan Ashcroft (VA)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

Nick Alexander (NA)

A/CFO Simon Tuhill (ST)

ACFO Rob Porter (RP)

A/ACFO Phil Pells (PP)

ACO Paul Bullen (PB)

AC Neil Sadler (NS)



Paul Fell



Minutes and decisions of previous meeting


  • SM welcomed everyone to the meeting.
  • Minutes of the previous meeting were circulated with the meeting papers.





JESIP creates a joint doctrine and interoperability framework for blue light emergency services to work together at incidents. The Commissioner requires a paper that outlines the position of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue relating to JESIP. The paper should outline the extent to which the principles of JESIP are embedded within the culture and operational activity of NFRS. It should include levels of training that are undertaken and an assessment of the effectiveness of this and the readiness at all levels of the organisation to operate in line with the general principles of JESIP doctrine.


  • A/Assistant Chief Fire Office Pells gave an overview.
  • The report provided in advance of the meeting was taken as read.
  • This is a positive story regarding progress made by the Service.
  • JESIP assurance can be gained from Training and Exercising, Operational preparedness and assessment of effectiveness from operational learning locally and nationally.
  • In October 2023, NFRS were invited to attend a JESIP Focus Group with the Home Office where it was noted that they were the only agency to deliver JESIP awareness training to Category 2 partners and private sector aligned premises or venues in Northamptonshire.
  • Post Manchester responder/ LRF partners need to consider JESIP at an earlier stage and not just when there is a major incident.
  • There was a discussion about the use of the Joint Decision Model (JDM) and how agencies interact from a full command point; encouraged not to work in silos.
  • Policing sometimes still referring to their National Decision Model (NDM)
  • The Commissioner asked about a national self-assurance process pilot and whether there was any learning to come out of this for NFRS.
  • A/ACFO Pells said there was none for NFRS and this was a positive statement.
  • Northants FRS is an outlier from a learning point –only service on the focus group who had not only completed training for their own staff and with emergency service partners, but they had also invited in other partners such as Silverstone SCL to complete JESIP training to maximise an effective response..
  • NFRS embed JESIP principles within Command training and revalidation.
  • The Commissioner commended this work adding NFRS is clearly demonstrating excellent practice.
  • Area Commander Neil Saddler provided an overview on JESIP Compliance.
  • 98% of staff have now received JESIP training. This is now a mandated competency and staff receive an automatic notification when training is due.
  • Learnings from Police and Fire are shared via the JOT

Action – SM to ask the Chief Constable for police JESIP training compliance levels.


  • There was a discussion about a graph in the paper (4.3) regarding Multi-Agency Gold Incident Command (MAGIC).
  • The Commissioner commented that he was not able to ascertain the level of NFRS compliance from the graph.
  • It was explained that the graph showed the percentage of Incident Commanders in other Services who are not currently accredited and did not reflect the position in NFRS where all are accredited.
  • The Commissioner was greatly reassured by this.
  • On 4.4 which provided information about the number of formal assessments, the Commissioner was pleased to see that the training was clearly taken seriously, and assessments were robust; as demonstrated by the small number of failures.
  • AC Sadler confirmed any minor failure is addressed with via a professional discussion. Commanders are assessed both in test environments and in live situations.
  • There is a team of accredited assessors who also attend incidents to monitor and assess skill sets and behaviours as the assessment criteria.
  • NFRS play a key role on Local Resilience Forum Testing and Exercising group and are committed to testing and exercising the JESIP principles within the multi-agency environment.
  • The Commissioner commended the work and asked that HMICFRS are sighted on this work when they inspect the Service to ensure it is reflected in their assessment.
  • There was a discussion about VR headsets to support future JESIP based multi-agency training and exercising

Action – SM to ask PF about the OPFCC sets that were funded via Safer Streets to see if these could be utilised via NFRS.

  • There was a discussion about JOT, which as a concept has made a difference to the advancement of JESIP in Northamptonshire
  • In terms of Operational learning, having a JOT function 10 years ago meant NFRS and Northants Police was already ahead of the game.
  • Conversations with other police and fire services who don’t have the same level on interoperability and understanding is testament to how we make it work in Northamptonshire.
  • More work is required on accessibility and transparency of the current systems which are clunky at the moment.
  • A new ISARR system has been procured which will be transformational.
  • On section 5: Operational Learning, the Commissioner was assured that lessons from exercises and debriefs are learnt operationally.
  • He asked if there were any examples of where learning from exercises or incidents had changed the way the Service operated.
  • A/ACO Pells explained we have reverse flow traffic on the M1 as an example. This learning had been shared nationally and changed locally.
  • In addition, A/ACO Pells sits on the national JOL committee so also has insight into how other Fire and Rescue Services are doing and can benchmark NFRS against those.
  • There was a discussion about the NILO role.
  • NFRS works closely with Northants police and has an Airwave terminal which means they can receive immediate updates in a live situation, without the need to obtain this from fire control or the FCR.
  • This appears to be a unique relationship and again, is testament to the collaboration between the two Services.
  • The Commissioner wondered if there were any opportunities to be had via the ESMCP and agreed to take this away to find out.

Action – SM to establish if there are any ESMCP opportunities for improved communication or devices via the Programme Board where his is a member.


  • There was a discussion on the a new Ops Learning System which should be rolled out in April/May.
  • There has been a slight delay due to some coding issues.
  • Once the roll out is complete with NFRS, Police and the LRF will follow.
  • The Commissioner commented that having a JOT function puts both Fire and Police in a good place.


Assurance statement:


The Commissioner recognised that JESIP and the principles behind it were important not only in the setting of a Major Incident but also in day-to-day operational activity.

He was very assured that NFRS was at the forefront of some of this working and that it was well embedded in their general working and the work that they did with partners.


He congratulated the service on its approach and how far advanced it was, complementing the national recognition it had received for some of the activity.


DBS Update


In June 2023 changes were agreed to the process of undertaking DBS checks in relation to NFRS firefighters and staff.


The Commissioner requires a report that outlines progress on the implementation of these agreed changes and the current position in relation to the DBS status of all employees of NFRS.


  • Assistant Chief Officer Paul Bullen provided an update
  • The paper was taken as read.
  • Decision taken last year to move to enhanced DBS for all NFRS colleagues.
  • DBS checks have been happening since 2014 but this was inconsistent with no centralised coordination.
  • Checks are now done by HR and recorded on HR system. These are valid for three years then re-checked.
  • In accordance with HMICFRS recommendation 9, a review has taken place in respect of all Fire employees, and it was found that 287 had no form of vetting or DBS check.
  • Phase One is to prioritise these and as a result, all 287 employees have been contacted. Of which, 223 have completed the form and provided the required ID for the checks to be undertaken.
  • 64 employees are still to complete the required forms and are being chased by the operational teams.
  • Any issues identified as a result of the checks will be assessed and dealt with by HR and overseen by ACO Porter via an agreed and robust risk assessment process.
  • The checks are progressing at pace.
  • PB confirmed WNC do the DBS check and send a report.
  • JB asked the A/Chief Fire Officer if he has all the support, he needs to complete stage 1 of the process.
  • The A/Chief Fire Officer confirmed that good policies are in place alongside a defendable process with a scoring matrix to assess any risk.
  • There was a discussion about which other Fire and Rescue Services were carrying out DBS checks.
  • Some are doing standard checks however Northants took the decision to do enhanced checks.
  • This was based on our firefighters undertaking Home Fire Safety Checks with vulnerable people. Other Services don’t use firefighters for this.
  • The A/Chief Fire Officer commented that this will be a good message for HMICFRS. The Service will have a strong story to tell in terms of policy and process once all the checks have been completed.
  • The Commissioner agreed, adding it was also a strong message to share with the community, that our firefighters and staff are safe.
  • This is also good for the NFRS brand.
  • The Commissioner confirmed he was reassured with the explanation of the work being undertaken and the revised numbers shared at the meeting.
  • On Phase Two, which incorporates a number of individuals who have already completed a level of vetting and any remaining not identified in Phase one, the Commissioner asked if there was any automation process that might be helpful.
  • PB advised that most is automated, and it is the council who do the DBS.
  • Unit 4 will allow storage of the data and make it easier for HR to re do in 3 years.
  • PB Worth noting that will be a big amount to re-do in 3 years’ time.

Assurance statement:


The Commissioner welcomed this update report, following the decision to move in this direction in June 2023.

 He was satisfied that proper and effective processes were in place to deliver the outcomes required in a timely fashion and was reassured by the current position.




No further business was raised.