Fire Accountability Board Minutes 8 March 2022




PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Paul Fell (PF)

Helen King (HK)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

CFO Darren Dovey (DD)

ACFO Shaun Hallam (SH)

ACFO Robin Porter (RP)

Group Manager Jim Dorrill (DR)


Minutes and Actions from previous meeting


SM welcomed everyone to the meeting

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



NFRS performance update


The Commissioner requires a report on the performance against the measures and metrics contained within the IRMP.


  • Group Manager Jim Dorrill provided an overview of how NFRS is delivering against the IRMP and organisational measures as detailed within the balanced scorecard.
  • Jim advised that data within the IRS entry system is currently being checked for accuracy.
  • The IRS entry system is a Home Office system that records incidents, incident types and the cause of the incident.
  • It relies on crews entering data from a drop-down menu of options. If the wrong option is selected, then the data can become skewed.
  • A new IRS system is being developed with improved functionality, but NFRS do not have timeline for this.

Primary fires (deliberate and accidental)

  • The number of Primary Fires are higher than last year but lower than pre-pandemic levels. The long-term trend for primary fires remains down.
  • Deliberate fires have increased slightly in Q3 but remain lower than pre-pandemic levels. Overall secondary deliberate fires as decreasing and in December NFRS experienced less than half of the calls relative to the previous month.
  • Accidental dwelling fires have increased slightly against pandemic levels but the overall trend is flat.
  • Whilst accidental fires include things like electrical item failure, they are sometimes linked to a person living alone who may have a vulnerability or mental health issues. These are fed back to the Prevention team for a Home Fire Safety check.
  • Home Fire Safety checks often flag potential fire hazards such as mattresses in alley ways etc. These are secondary benefits and have been flagged as best practice by HMICFRS.
  • The was a discussion about Acorn data
  • Acorn is a powerful consumer classification that segments the UK population. By analysing demographic data, social factors, population, and consumer behaviour, it provides precise information and an understanding of different types of people.
  • For NFRS this is really useful as it informs crews on things like population density and can help the prevention team target individual vulnerability.
  • There was a discussion about Safer Streets Fund Round 4 (Neighbourhood crime ASB and VAWG key focus) and an opportunity to overlay fire prevention data.
  • It was agreed that PF and JD would have a further discussion outside of the meeting.

Action – PF/JD to discuss how Fire Prevention data could be used to strengthen the round 4 Safer Streets bid.


Fatalities from fires


  • Fatalities arising from accidental fires remains extremely low with no deaths recorded in the past 12 months.
  • There was a discussion about national data analysis to understand what can be learned from trends in accidental deaths.
  • The Commissioner was particularly interested where vulnerable households or individuals have received visits from other agencies and opportunities to identify potential fire risks were missed.
  • The Fire College was discussed but this is a private organisation not linked to NFCC.
  • In terms of trend data, much of it comes from local returns.
  • The College of Policing produces national data but is directly linked with the NPCC and better funded.
  • It was identified that there is an opportunity to ensure staff in the OPFCC Early Intervention Team receive training on how to spot potential fire risks and how to make the referral to the Prevention Team in NFRS.

Action – LS to raise with Jackie Jones and Lisa Bryan to organise.


  • There was a discussion about an increase in fires that had spread beyond the room it had started in.
  • Looked like NFRS had seen an increase and the Commissioner was keen to understand why this was the case.
  • The Chief Fire Officer advised that this is being checked but emphasised that it wasn’t due to slower attendance. More likely to be inaccurate recording from the crew – for example, fire in lounge spread to hallway which has caused smoke damage but logged as fire spread beyond the room.
  • This led to a discussion on what data analytic tools are being used.
  • NFRS are currently reviewing QLIK which is used by Northants Police. The other system (used by most Fire Services) is Power BI

Non-domestic fires


  • Non-domestic fires – flat trend but flagged for analysis as there was a slight increase in Q3
  • In times of economic downturn non-domestic fires typically go up. The NFCC are doing a national report on the overall cost of non-domestic fire (stock, job losses etc are a hidden statistic).



  • Short term sickness data shows an upward trend with firefighters but this is largely down to the Omicron variant in December and January.
  • All Covid related sickness is tracked in a separate spreadsheet. Classed as an infectious disease so covered in grey book.
  • The approach to absence management has been inconsistent at local level and varies across stations.
  • Some of this is down to Fire Watch – clunky system and not easy to extract data.
  • This will improve as more NFRS HR is picked up by the Enabling Service HR function.
  • There has been an overall decline in fire staff sickness – this is most likely to be a consequence of more staff working from home and therefore less likely to phone in sick if feeling a little unwell.



  • Home Fire Safety Checks are monitored using a risk matrix to ensure there is a balance between the quality of the work against the quantity of visits.
  • During Q1 HFSCs only took place in the highest risk properties. Post covid, crews now utilise new deprivation heat maps to assist with targeting generation activity and in addition self-referrals which are triggered via the national Safelincs portal.
  • As a result, the number of checks is increasing and the Service aim to maintain above 70%
  • In Q2 the number of checks trebled in comparison to the first quarter.



  • The revised high risk-based inspection programme is on track having completed 38% of the three-year plan.
  • Feedback on this area from HMI was good.
  • The team continue to work with West Northants Council on HMO’s

Appliance availability


  • Overall appliance availability remains good.
  • Whilst appliance availability overall reduced slightly this was largely down to higher sickness levels due to Omicron.
  • Good availability at nigh time when have biggest sleeper risk.

Response times


  • Response times are back to pre-pandemic levels. (10:25)
  • Average calls to mobilise have improved by 9 seconds. (01:48 > 01:39)
  • Turn-out times have not improved in the past year and are higher than pre-pandemic levels. (02:26 > 02:37)
  • There was a discussion about ‘booking in attendance’ – the point where an appliance arrives at the scene.
  • The Chief Fire Officer explained that they are currently replacing MDTs as they regularly fail which means the crew have to log their attendance by radio and wait for control to clear. This causes an issue with data accuracy
  • There was a discussion about overall productivity so for example if pump availability was increased, what would crews be doing when not responding.
  • The Chief Fire Officer explained that with retained crews – these are not paid so they wouldn’t be doing anything else whereas wholetime crews are paid so they do other things whilst waiting for a fire such as prevention work during the day.




  • Both in decline with significant reductions in KSI’s over the years although now flattening out.
  • Whilst the number of RTC’s has increased recently, levels remain lower than pre-pandemic levels.
  • Nationally, there has been an 8% decrease compared to previous years.
  • The data for injuries and deaths from RTC’s and the number of other rescues performed shows a significant reduction over pre-pandemic levels.
  • There was a discussion about the need step change via Highways. Both Police and Fire have done lots of work to reduce the risk but now is the time to look at road design. Cycle ways etc. (Cheaper to put in when new estates and roads are designed rather than retro fitting).
  • Police and fire turn up to accident – Highways don’t see the impact of the collision just fix the barrier.


All incidents


  • A graph was provided which illustrated the total number of incidents attended in Northamptonshire.
  • The overall trend for indents shows a decrease in the total number of incidents attended which remain lower than pre-covid levels.
  • There was also a notable drop in the total number of fires attended.
  • The Commissioner commented that it would be helpful to remove the ‘false alarm’ calls.
  • There was a discussion about the meaning of ‘false alarms’
  • Some are still attended, and they are categorised as false alarms post attendance for example fire alarm fault, or someone saw smoke which turned out to be a bonfire.
  • It was agreed that there is some work to do on categorisation which would be helpful for future reports.
  • Another report was mentioned which contains more detailed information on false alarms and malicious calls.
  • It was agreed that this paper would be shared to provide further insight.


Assurance Statement:


The Chief Fire Officer reported on the performance of NFRS against the measures in the IRMP.


Overall, the Commissioner was assured that progress continued to be made in reducing the risks to local people, with performance positive in most areas.

The Commissioner was concerned about the increased rate of short-term sickness. The Chief Fire Officer stated that this was mainly covid related but that work was needed with some junior managers to ensure that repeated bouts of short-term sickness was identified earlier and managed appropriately. This work is underway.

The Commissioner was pleased that the agreed 3-year high risk based inspection programme was on track.


Grenfell Inquiry


The Commissioner requires a report that provides an end of year update on the implementation of actions arising from the Grenfell Tower Part 1 report.

The report should be high level and describe the number of actions completed and those that remain outstanding. In the event there are actions that remain outstanding the report should provide detail of what they are, the reason that they remain outstanding and anticipated completion dates.


  • ACFO Rob porter provided an overview of the paper that Area Manager Phil Pells had submitted.
  • Evidence demonstrating progress and delivery of improvements was submitted as part of the HMICFRS round 2 inspection.
  • Initial feedback from them on progress is positive.
  • Overall good progress is being made out of the 58 actions identified.
  • As of 1st February 2022, 50 actions have been completed and closed.
  • There was a discussion on 2 actions which have been defined but not opened and the progress of the remaining 6.
  • There was a discussion on the capital upgrade for action GF 16 (Multiple Fire Survivor Information Process)
  • Capita have a product but cost is £100k. NFRS have developed a Microsoft Team’s template which has been stress tested to provide dynamic information sharing from Fire Control to FCP and bridgehead.
  • Currently awaiting approval from Digital and technology to open access to Teams template to Warwickshire Fire Control due to fall back arrangements.
  • Microsoft Teams template is cost zero.
  • HK raised the query that the actual costs charged to Grenfell and reported on the Home Office claim were £2300 higher than reported, leaving just under £8K for MAIT. HK is aware that Nick Alexander is discussing with Phil Pells as to where the £2300 extra cost of smoke hoods should be coded if not Grenfell. HK advised this can be absorbed within the overall Fire envelope and is easily resolvable but the full costs need to be accurate.
  • There was also a discussion about where the additional costs for MAIT (estimated £30-40K, available grant £8-£10K) would be met from. DD queried whether HK was aware of whether the Home Office would be providing grant. HK advised that the Home Office have not advised of additional grants to date and if no additional grants provided it will need to be met from within the Fire envelope.
  • There was a discussion about National Operational Guidance (NOG) for fires in tall buildings and the evacuation of floors above the bridgehead and how you do it.
  • London Fire Brigade have implemented a process (NOG+) which has been successfully challenged by the FBU.
  • The challenge is around whether firefighters should go above the bridgehead without Breathing Apparatus.
  • HSE are involved and we await the outcome of the judicial review.
  • Depending on the outcome, NFRS may need to purchase some additional kit which monitors air quality above the bridgehead.
  • Once the review is complete NFRS can implement the NOG element (have already implemented the tall building guidance) as they have all the telemetry in place with Fire Control apart from air quality recording devices.
  • There will also need to be a discussion with the FBU
  • The cost of the air quality devices is likely to be between £8k and £10k
  • There was a discussion on the 2 actions that have not yet been opened.
  • RP confirmed there are no timescales as yet as there is still a lot of work to do on those.
  • The Commissioner noted that a couple of the actions that related to technology and asked for reassurance that the Digital and Technological implications are understood and are in the D&T workplan.
  • RP confirmed that they were. Phil Pells attends this working group and was complimentary of the D&T meeting.
  • There was a discussion about GF27a and GF 45 which relate to training and a training plan.
  • The Commissioner was keen that NFRS work with other blue light services in the county on this.
  • The Commissioner asked if there were plans for a new joint exercise.
  • The Chief Fire Officer confirmed that there was and would check when it was going to take place.
  • There was a discussion on Op willowbeck – automatic call transfer system that BT will manage.
  • All fire services have signed up to it and have agreed to take a percentage of calls should another fire service be taken out.
  • The Commissioner asked the Chief Fire Officer to ensure that the Force Control Room was aware as they may also invariably take calls should a major incident take place.
  • The Commissioner asked that the Protection team remain engaged with HMO issues.



Assurance Statement:


The Commissioner was provided with an update about continued progress relating the local action plan arising from the findings of the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry Part 1. This was considered alongside the recent HMICFRS inspection and it appears that comments on that will be positive.

The Commissioner is assured that at this point progress is good and appropriate and that there is strong governance around this.




  • Helen King provided an update on a request for further support from the Home Office for additional Capital funding.
  • If provided, this will be the last opportunity for additional funding although HK has advised we will still likely request transformation funding in the future.
  • HK updated on the HO Firelink Grant which will be removed and likely to be reduced out over 5 years. – circa additional £60K reduction every year
  • HK is keeping a watching eye as it is anticipated Protection grant comes out in a couple of weeks. It will be less than 21/22 grants (£12m rather than £14m) and is available over the full CSR of 3 years. HO advice is 22/23 allocation will be based on existing formula, but future years are subject to grants being spent. Northants have not spent much of their grants, but their plans are now in place and spending has commenced in 2021/22 and will move forward in 22/23.
  • HK also provided an update on Cumbria FRS and the HO has asked her to provide critical friend financial advice and assistance in supporting their governance considerations.

No further business was raised