1 Introduction
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What is Integrated Risk Management?

“Integrated Risk Management” is the development of a balanced approach by the Fire and Rescue Service to reducing risks within the community. This achieved by combining prevention, protection and emergency response, on a risk-assessed basis, in order to improve the safety of the community and also create a safer working environment for firefighters. To be added to this ‘mix’ is taking measures to help the community recover quickly in the aftermath of an emergency and minimise the impact both to people and the local economy.

 

What is Integrated Risk Management

Setting the Scene

In late June, 2003, the Deputy Prime Minister presented a White Paper to Parliament entitled “Our Fire and Rescue Service”. This White Paper sets out the Government’s vision for the fire and rescue service of the future and how the vision will be delivered. Its guiding principle is that the fire and rescue service should have the right resources, in the right place, at the right time, to save lives.

The White Paper includes proposals for changes in the structure of the Service, in its institutions and in the working practices and procedures of all who work in the service. The Service has not really changed much since the late 1940s.

A number of reports in the period 1970 (Holroyd) to 2002 (Bain) have pointed to the need to overhaul the fire service and to change its culture. The Government believes the service must be refocused on fire prevention and flexible responses to fires and a range of other emergencies (including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks). The ultimate objective is for each community to be safe from fire and other hazards. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service agree with this approach.

Our vision is for a fire and rescue service that:-

  • is proactive in preventing fires and other risks, rather than simply reacting to fires;
  • acts in support of the wider agendas of social inclusion, neighbourhood renewal and crime reduction;
  • has effective institutions that support its role and purpose;
  • is well-managed and effective; and
  • is committed to developing and adapting to changing rescue demands of society, including the growing threat of terrorism.

The Government has now recognised that in the past it has failed to develop its guidance to fire authorities to achieve these aims. This has meant that the resources utilised by the service have not always been allocated on the basis of need because of outdated response standards and levels of risk.

When this Authority has been ambitious in its approach to try and change the way it does things, it has sometimes been criticised by Government. The Authority is pleased that the policies it was criticised for in the past, have now been adopted by the Government as the way forward.

By a huge majority deaths and injuries from fire occur accidentally in the home. Fires can spread so quickly that even the fastest attendance targets can mean appliances arrive too late to prevent death and injury. Fire does discriminate. Research shows those most likely to be at risk from fire, whether accidental or deliberately set, are the poorest in society. They are more likely to have a fire in the home and are less likely to be insured. Our key aim, therefore, is to prevent fire occurring in the first place.

This Authority has been commended by the HM Coroner for our ground-breaking community safety approach for reducing death and injury. Our analysis of fatal fires in Merseyside provides further details of underlying factors in such incidents.

Our prevention strategy relies on three main strands:

  • designing fire safety into homes, offices and other buildings through the Building Regulations;
  • maintaining a safe environment, through fire safety and other legislation, which sets out employers’ and commercial property owners’ responsibilities; and
  • promoting community fire safety to encourage safe behaviour and to reduce the incidence of arson.

To create a safer community, the White Paper sets out the demands for change at Government’s level. Government must:

  • review the Building Regulations to ensure that they address changing trends and new developments in building design;
  • rationalise the existing law on fire safety legislation to facilitate compliance;
  • invest more in community fire safety and arson reduction; and
  • set a new legislative framework introducing fire cover based upon risk through integrated risk management planning.

Without Government delivering these changes it will be impossible for the Authority to deliver its plan.

Our maxim is “prevention is better than cure”. Our fundamental goal is to continue the transfer of a main focus of the Service into one of prevention, particularly by community safety, tackling the root causes of fires in the home. However, we also recognise the changing world we live in and the risk of international terrorism. We will develop our emergency response to meet this new threat.

Traditionally, the fire service has organised its staffing levels and the location of firefighters, stations and appliances to match nationally prescribed fire cover standards originally set in the 1930s. In the future, the Service will plan for, and respond to, emergencies on the basis of risk assessment and management. We will consult local communities on these plans and the fire and rescue service will work with the other emergency services to implement them.

This Plan, set out in the following pages, seeks to explain how Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service will better protect the public of Merseyside and how, based upon a system of integrated risk management, we will move forward to achieve our vision of safer communities.

Merseyside Fire & Civil Defence Authority

Merseyside is a metropolitan area in the North West of England covering the District Councils of Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St.Helens and Wirral. It covers an area of 653 sq.km. and has a resident population of some 1.4million. Merseyside Fire & Civil Defence Authority is a local authority created by the Local Government Act 1985. It is made up of 18 elected representatives appointed by the constituent District Councils. The number of councillors from each District is determined by statute and in most cases is representative of the political composition of that Council. At present this is:

Knowsley 2 (Labour)
Liverpool 6 (4 Liberal Democrat; 2 Labour)
Sefton 4 (2 Conservative; 1 Labour; 1 Liberal Democrat)
St. Helens 2 (Labour)
Wirral 4 (2 Labour; 1 Conservative; 1 Liberal Democrat)

The Authority is responsible for integrated risk management to ensure the provision of an efficient and effective fire and rescue service for Merseyside, approving the budget and precept charge, consulting with the people of Merseyside, scrutinising the performance of the Service, overseeing major projects and ensuring best value. In making their decisions they will be guided by the advice of the Chief Fire Officer and his Corporate Management Team.

A map showing the Merseyside area and the location of the fire stations is below.


Map showing the Merseyside area and the location of the fire stations

Reasons for Change

Why change?

Because we know we can do better and save more lives! The current standards of response are over 50 years old. Time has moved on and the world is a completely different place to that which existed when the standards were set. Some of the risks are new and different and our solutions and approach should be different to meet these new challenges.

However the fire service response has not really changed with the times and is essentially set up to respond to the same risks as it was 50 years ago. The firefighters and other personnel employed by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service continue to show the professionalism and enthusiasm that they always have done. They have increased their skills in line with new requirements but have been restrained by rules and regulations set over half a century ago.

Evidence, both local and national, from recent years shows that the incidence of fires tends to vary between particular types of buildings in particular locations and at particular times of the day. We know where these fires are most likely to occur and, unfortunately, where people are most likely to die or receive serious injuries through fire. Consequently the historical provision of firefighters and pumps in fixed locations to meet rigid specified national standards is no longer the best way to deal with this risk. Flexible, locally assessed and determined risk-based standards should more effectively meet the needs of local communities. Furthermore, the Government has specified in its White Paper “Our Fire and Rescue Service” that the fire service will have a (new) statutory responsibility to plan for, and respond to, a range of emergencies beyond fire. This will be done on the basis of risk assessment and management.

However, more than simply planning to respond to fires and other emergencies, the aim of the Service is to direct resources to prevent these occurring in the first place by improving community safety. How Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service will do all this is set out in the following pages and in the relevant Action Plan which accompanies this document.

The aim of this strategy is to:

· reduce the incidence of fire and other emergency incidents
· reduce the loss of life in fires and accidents
· reduce the number and severity of injuries occurring in fires and other emergencies
· reduce the commercial, economic and social impact of fires and other emergencies
· safeguard the environment and protect natural resources
· provide Merseyside residents with value for money.

What this all means is having the right resources in the right place at the right time to ensure the public of Merseyside receives the very best possible protection from fire and other emergencies.

Over the forthcoming years Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service will continue to provide an emergency response capability to meet the changing needs of our communities. This will involve continuing to provide an effective and efficient response to day-to-day incidents, such as fires and special services. It will also involve an enhanced capability to respond and deal effectively with unfamiliar incidents, such as rescues from water, from height or involving restricted access.

The changing nature of the threat to the community has become apparent following the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. The Service will ensure it can make an effective contribution should we be called upon to respond to such incidents either within our community of Merseyside or to help others in the UK.

In order to provide this capability, we will provide our personnel with the necessary operational training, emergency vehicles and equipment.

The framework of affordability

As we develop a new approach to our future fire and rescue services, we must be conscious of the issue of “affordability” of our plans. We believe the communities of Merseyside place value in the high investment we make in our community’s safety. We recognise that the people of Merseyside pay more for their current fire service provision than almost anywhere else in the country. The Authority has, for a number of years, been committed to bringing its expenditure and Council Tax levels in line with the average of the Metropolitan fire authorities and has been very effective in catching up with its peer authorities by increasing efficiency within the Service.

Nevertheless, we are concerned that we continue to give you value for your high investment. We are acutely aware of our responsibility to you, to ensure that we modernise our service, to provide a new and wider range of rescue and safety services within a framework of affordability, and we believe it is important to explain to you what we mean by this statement.

This plan contains a number of proposals which it is believed will deliver a more effective fire and rescue service and the Authority will look to allocate its resources to support these proposals in line with the principle of affordability.

Affordability means that we deliver;

  • the on-going ground-breaking investment in community fire safety;
  • the range of improvements set out in this plan;
  • the range of new services for rescue, resilience and safety set out in this plan;

within a financial risk planning framework that is based on the following principles.

  • We would wish to create overtime opportunities where appropriate for eligible personnel in accordance with the National Pay Agreement.
  • Pay increases of any kind (including overtime) must be funded through improved efficiency delivered in a manner that does not compromise the Authority’s determination to improve safety to the communities of Merseyside.
  • There will be no compulsory redundancy.
  • We aim to limit precept increases.

We would wish to deliver the range of improvements set out in this plan and we believe this plan is achievable within this framework of affordability. We invite our personnel, our trade unions, and our communities to work together with us to ensure we achieve this most important of aims.

External limitations

Some of the proposals set out in this plan have been prepared on the basis of the Government’s declared intention to change the national framework and on the assumption that greater flexibility and additional statutory powers will be made available. This needs to happen sooner rather than later if the momentum of change is to be maintained.

The other key external influence is the progress and outcome of national negotiations between the employers and trade unions. These negotiations will need to achieve:

  • agreement on the range and detail of nationally determined terms and conditions of employment and the scope provided to develop local terms and conditions;
  • clarification of the scope and nature of future industrial relations and disputes machinery.

Core principles

The following core principles have been adopted when developing the proposals in this plan:

  • the combined effect of all the measures in our plan will be to make Merseyside a safer place;
  • we must retain an effective, resilient and safe emergency response to calls for assistance;
  • while aiming to reduce life loss and injury, we will also do what we can to reduce property and environmental damage, and to protect our heritage, to preserve business continuity and support the local economy;
  • we will develop a more flexible service – one which can respond to changing patterns of risk across Merseyside at different times of the day, week, or year;
  • resilience to handle major and prolonged incidents (including possible major acts of terrorism) must be developed and maintained;
  • we recognise that provision of support and advice after an incident and reducing avoidable economic loss and preserving business continuity are important to Merseysiders;
  • as and when the legislative framework develops, the Authority develops a more proactive approach to preventing life loss and injury from those non-fire emergencies where it can make a real difference;
  • we will do what we can to involve a wide range of stakeholders, and the public, in decisions about how we intend to organise and prioritise use of our resources;
  • our services will continue to reflect the differing needs of Merseyside ’s diverse communities;
  • we will continue to maintain effective arrangements for partnerships within Merseyside and for cross border working with surrounding Fire and Rescue Services;
  • our emergency response arrangements must maintain safe systems of work for firefighters;
  • we will continue to secure best value in all our activities;
  • we will strive to be a great place to work;
  • this IRMP is a dynamic document and will be continually reviewed and amended as appropriate.

Individual Responsibilities

It is vitally important for the public of Merseyside to appreciate that, wherever a fire station is situated, however many firefighters are on duty and however quickly they can get to the fire, there is no guarantee that they can save lives.

What is far more important than reacting to fire is preventing it in the first place, thereby minimising danger to people and property and if fire does occur, ensuring it is detected early giving every person the best chance of escape.

This plan brings with it a personal responsibility on every member of society – to make themselves safer.

Every household should arrange for a free safety check of their home, have smoke detectors fitted, check they are working properly and have an escape plan that is understood by and practical for each occupant in the event of fire. If you do not, you are letting down yourself, your family and your neighbours (see page 24 for further information).

Every business should comply with the law and ensure that they have carried out a work place assessment, that their staff are appropriately trained and that they are aware of their individual responsibility for safety in the workplace.

For a free Home Fire Safety Checkand for fire safety advice to business, ring Fire Service Direct on 0800 731 5958

©Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service