Fire Accountability Board Minutes 14 July 2020




Stephen Mold (SM)

Paul Fell (PF)

Nicci Marzec (NM)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

Helen King (HK)

Darren Dovey (DD)

Shaun Hallam (SH)

Rob Porter (RP)

Phil Pells (PP)

Barry Mullan (BM)

Nick Alexander (NA)

Paul Bullen (PB)


  • SM welcomed everyone to the meeting


Minutes and Actions from previous meeting


    • The minutes from the previous meeting were approved.
    • Relevant updates on any outstanding actions were provided and the Action Log updated


Fire and Police Interoperability Plans


Grenfell Inquiry


  • Phil Pells, Area Manager and Head of Operations provided an update on the progress NFRS have made on the action plan following the Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1 report.
  • The report included how additional funding from the Protection Grant has/will be used.
  • Gap analysis has been completed and a Phase 1 Action Plan has been developed.
  • A Gold Group provides strategic oversight and includes representatives from all areas of the Service.
  • An East Midlands Fire and Rescue Service Grenfell Tower group has also been established with strategic leads from each Fire and Rescue Service including Northants.
  • The local and national Covid response has affected some original milestones and progress of some recommendations. However, opportunities to amend and maximise new ways of delivery for revised High rise/Tall Buildings operational guidance and training have been achieved through remote learning.
  • The Funding schedule in appendix 2 of the report was discussed in detail and the Commissioner asked the Chief Fire Officer if he was content that grant expenditure will meet the conditions of the grant provided.
  • DD confirmed there are two grants. One is for the review of relevant buildings and the other is for the bolstering of inspection activity and hardening of high risk buildings.
  • DD content that all grant expenditure will meet grant conditions however it was noted that these are currently outline conditions. The final grant conditions letter has not yet been received.
  • It was agreed that DD will sign off the final spend in line with achieving an effective balance between the plan and the grant conditions when received.
  • There was a discussion about aerial appliances. This is flagged as a risk as the current appliance and an aging fleet do not meet operational requirements.
  • Mitigation for this risk is in place and a Fleet Replacement and Capital Investment plan has been approved.
  • The Action plan supports the risks identified and shows work going on to mitigate.
  • High rise fires, by their very nature, are a complex issue and remain a risk to both the public and to firefighters when dealing with them. However there is a clear distinction between a high rise incident and a Grenfell incident and not not every high rise fire is a Grenfell; a catastrophic failure of the apartment.
  • There was a discussion about the location of the two existing Aerial appliances. DD confirmed they are positioned for County Cover.
  • SM reassured that action plans are aligned to the Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1 Report and a percentage are subject to national guidance being received.
  • An updated report will be scheduled once this is received for further reassurance.
  • HK confirmed grants of £60k and £61k. HK will work with DD and Scott Richards to identify both the one off costs and ongoing costs.


Treasury Management update


  • HMICFRS Update 
    • Barry Mullan provided an updated report in relation to the 2018 HMICFRS inspection report into NFRS
    • A comprehensive overview was given in relation to two identified causes for concern as well as other areas for improvement from the same inspection.
    • A comprehensive action plan sets out how these are being addressed.
    • Following a re-inspection visit in June 2019 it was noted that HMICFRS found appropriate governance structures and PFCC scrutiny had led to significant improvements.
    • In March 2020 HMICFRS noted tangible improvements mitigated the risks to public safety identified in the original inspection.
    • These improvements focussed specifically on Fire Engine availability and the process for managing this along with processes to ensure its firefighters had all necessary safety critical skills needed to respond to emergency incidents.
    • The most recent data scrutinised at the meeting showed an excellent increase in coverage and availability with response time improvements to just over 10 minutes.
    • In December 2018 average response times were 11 minutes and 36 seconds. The YTD reported average for May 2020 was 9 minutes and 53 seconds.
    • In terms of critical skills, the NFRS now has in place a suite of guides and processes that ensure critical skills are accurately reported on and action taken when necessary
    • A performance scorecard is presented at the departmental Performance Board each month.
    • The Commissioner complemented NFRS on the progress it has made against the causes for concern identified by HMICFRS and is keen for these to be replicated and maintained.
    • There was a discussion on Blue Light Driver Training.
    • Legal requirement for this to be undertaken every five years. NFRS complete refresher courses every three years so are 100% compliant.
    • There was a discussion about Protection and Inspection regimes.
    • The Protection department structure has been reviewed, and three additional Fire Protection Officers are now in post and completing their training modules. These have been facilitated by remote video training due to Covid.
    • The risk based inspection strategy has been reviewed to ensure it aligns to risks and resources.
    • Evaluation of the Protection activity and monitoring of the Risk Based inspection programme is now being embedded within the performance framework and the review of CFRMIS.
    • NFRS are confident that all high rise premises above 18M will receive a further physical inspection by the end of this year, well ahead of the 2021 deadline.
    • Fire safety information is now being managed within the business planning process as an Improvement action.
    • There was a discussion about Road Traffic Collison attendance.
    • This is going in right direction but is harder to manage given the location of stations.
    • Overall picture is good and the Service expect to maintain 18+ pump availability post Covid.
    • The Commissioner was pleased with the progress and will be happy to share this at the Police, Fire and Crime Panel on 16th July as this is really good news.


Budget Monitoring


  • Budget Conditions Letter Update 
    • An update was provided on the Budget Conditions Letter with the Chief Fire Officer as part of the budget setting process for 2020/21
    • The Commissioner has set a number of requirements for the Chief Fire Officer to achieve for the 12 month period.
    • Requirements in the budget setting included oversight on the management of individual budgets, firefighter recruitment, the integration of some enabling services and the stabilisation of ICT infrastructure.
    • In addition, cost efficiencies included in the investment proposal for future year’s budget settlements are to be undertaken before the 2021/22 budget settlement is discussed at the October Accountability Board.
    • DD confirmed 20 new firefighters have been recruited and will complete their basic training in August.
    • PB has been supporting the work to address some of the ICT issues. Both capacity and capability were flagged. Additional funding will be needed to accelerate some of the issues. E.g. Windows upgrade.
    • PB is also looking at ways that ISD can support out of hours/on call issues as part of broader enabling services developments.
    • There was a discussion about individual budgets. New arrangements are in place to review and scrutinise budgets that, alongside better use of Purchase Orders seek to ensure improved forecasting and better financial discipline.
    • Underspends and Overspends were discussed at some length. A couple of area were identified where additional support is required. Clarity of this requirement is to be reiterated along with the consequence that the individual budget authority will be removed if not delivered.
    • There was a discussion on the impact of increased costs due to Covid and the impact that has had on the normal revenue budget. HK would like a clearer picture on it so that a decision can be made on whether to put in a bid for ‘Mutual Aid Money’

    Action – DD to work with NA and HK to complete financial impact assessment of Covid.




  • AOB  No further business was raised