2 Planning For Change
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Supporting Government’s Vision

“Fire kills. Preventing fires saves lives and reduces injuries. Preventing fires also saves money. So it makes sense to protect people and to prevent fires from happening in the first place”. This is taken from the introduction to the Government’s White Paper on the future of the fire service. Part of the Government’s 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 Government’s wider agenda of social inclusion, neighbourhood renewal and crime reduction”;

This vision comes as no surprise to Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority nor the many people within Merseyside who have benefited from our services. Indeed the Government’s vision for a modern Fire and Rescue Service is consistent with that adopted in Merseyside for some time.

The Authority’s vision for the last four years has been:

To make Merseyside a fire safe community

and its Mission is:

We will work in partnership with the community to provide a value for money service which will:

  • Reduce death, injury and loss of property due to fire and protect the people and environment including visitors to the region.
  • Provide a high quality fire and rescue service within the resources available in accordance with the Best Value principles.

The vision and mission of Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority are evolving to better reflect the Government’s vision for a fire and rescue service that reduces risk in a number of areas.

The following diagram illustrates the relationship between the Government’s vision and Merseyside Fire Authority’s strategy:

Relationship between the Government’s vision and Merseyside Fire Authority’s strategy:

In order to achieve the stated outcomes, our Action Plan for the forthcoming year sets out how we intend to achieve these.

Process/Methodology

The risk management process is a system of continuous improvement and the main elements are shown below.

The Risk Management Process

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has been applying this process in practice for many years although the data sets we need to gather for the future are slightly different.

The first significant change from the way we have previously worked has been the formal adoption of the RAPID (Risk Assessed Programme for Incident Deployment) system. This is an IT based risk assessment and reduction model to replace the old standards which the Government is to withdraw in the near future. A great deal of work has already been completed in respect of this, as detailed below, although a range of technical measures still need to be undertaken.

There is a separate document explaining the finer detail of this process which is available, free of charge, on request or through our website.

Until recently incident data had not been geo-coded. Geo-coding is the process that assigns a precise map coordinate to an address. Once this coordinate is assigned, the address can be displayed on a map whether it be paper or computer based. As part of the IRMP process all dwelling fires for the last three years have now been geo-coded. All data has been validated and the system audited. Work is on-going on other fires involving non-domestic property such as retail outlets, educational establishments, etc. This geo-coded data resides on a Geographical Information System (GIS). The data is plotted onto the map base and can then be used for analysis purposes.
The dwelling fire data is analysed on a year by year basis which allows “hot spots” to be identified where there have been clusters of dwelling fires over a period of time. These are high risk areas. The map below shows a ward related example of this work.

Dwelling Fires in Merseyside shown by Ward Jan 2000-May 2003

Dwelling Fires in Merseyside shown by Ward Jan 2000-May 2003

Dwelling Fires between January 2000 and May 2003:

Dwelling Fires between January 2000 and May 2003:

Other software used has the very latest demographic and lifestyle data based upon the 2001 census. This is used to highlight areas of high-risk properties based upon known criteria. This is then overlaid on the incident data and comparisons made between the identified “hot spots” based upon fires and areas of high risk properties based upon lifestyle data. There is a high degree of correlation between the two data sets. An example of this lifestyle data can be found as an Appendix to this plan.

The relative activity level of each fire station has been analysed for the last five years and the chart below summarises this information.

5 Year Average Calls Within each Station Ground (1998-2002) inc

All the data concerning the Home Fire Risk Assessments (see Chapter 4) we have carried out has also been geo-coded and input on the analytical system. This data is used to concentrate resources in the areas of highest risk.

All fatal fires for the last ten years have also been analysed in detail and geo-coded. Data has been produced showing exact location, cause, time taken from ignition to discovery, time from discovery to first call, time from first call to mobilising and then attendance. This is used for both fire safety and operational purposes.

All incidents for the last five years have been analysed by time of day to show when the busiest times are and when fewer fires occur. This is illustrated below:-

Brigade call profile by hourly time bands using five years data

In addition, work is still being undertaken to analyse the pattern of risk across the 24-hour period in order to better determine the best response at different times of the day.

Additional statistical data including high risk chemical sites, accident blackspots, etc., has been input into the system to provide an even more detailed risk map. Unitary Development Plans produced by the District Councils are being scrutinised for any developments which may impact upon any area and vary the risk identified.

When all this work has been completed, this will result in the provision of a comprehensive risk assessment and planning tool for the public of Merseyside. Ultimately this risk mapping software will greatly assist the Authority in making resource (fire engine and special appliances) allocation decisions based on the risk levels highlighted by the model.

Consequently, the mapping software will be used in the first instance for identifying risk which will, in turn, allow a range of community safety initiatives to be directed in those areas where this is most needed.

We are also working with our colleagues in the Police and Ambulance Services to share and standardise the data and information we all maintain in respect of emergency incidents.

Although we are well on the way to developing the full RAPID system, we already have a wide range of data and if we know we can improve something now, that makes you safer, we should get on and do it. We discuss this approach further at page 33 - Response Standards.

Electronic Government

The Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Implementing Electronic Government (IEG3) statement and supporting e-Government Strategy have been co-ordinated with the IRMP and will work in synergy by establishing and satisfying common requirements. The following is a summary of key areas of synergy between both strategies.

In line with the shift of focus to putting people first, looking at risks and the options for their reduction and management, the e-Government Strategy identifies our plans for knowledge management. A significant amount of GIS-based information is currently being gathered, and linked to the National Land and Property Gazetteer. This will be used to determine a pattern of risk which will enable fact-based planning for activities to make the public safer. By using new tools and joining with other agencies, sharing information, we will develop a common understanding of risk and by working together we aim to reduce those risks.

Within the framework of a restructured corporate information management role and policy, we are planning to develop a corporate repository which supports the information requirements of our internal and external customers and legislative compliance. Our collaborative partnerships are already significant and will be developed further to enable additional external agency information sources to be used plus greater experience and resources to be shared.

All developments within our e-Government Strategy will comply with relevant Government standards plus other guidelines. This consistent approach will ensure interoperability with other agencies for systems development, data exchange and analysis, so that information can be shared.

In support of our information improvement plans, our e-Government Strategy recognises the potential of the national e-Fire projects, especially the ‘national portal’, ‘risk knowledge management and data sharing’, ‘fire safety and business’ and fire safety in the community’ in the context of IRMP.

Electronic service delivery will be implemented through a wide ranging access channel strategy which already includes the ‘Loop’ Fire Service Direct Contact Centre.

It is anticipated that the automation of the HFRA assessment activity with the use of hand-held devices could reduce error and significantly speed up the process.

We will consult with our local community to ensure that we provide our electronic and traditional services in the way the community wishes those services to be delivered. Since IRMP will make significant use of access channels for information provision and consultation, we acknowledge the benefits of collaborative access channel planning and development, take-up measurement, consultation and customer satisfaction monitoring.

The processes which deliver services through the access channels will be made more effective and will ensure Freedom of Information Act compliance. A corporate Intranet will contribute to knowledge management and enhance communication to all locations.

Prince2 project management techniques will be used to implement our e-Government action plan as part of a strengthened corporate project and programme management structure.

©Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service