Statement of Operational Assurance 2022 – 2023
Operational Assurance Statement 2022-23
(for the Commissioner’s Fire and Rescue Annual Report 2022-23)
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The North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (Fire and Rescue Authority) has carried out its functions in accordance with the defined statutory and policy framework in which it is required to operate. As such, the view at the end of the 2022-23 financial year, is that requirements associated with operational matters were met.
- The key documents setting this out are:
- the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004
- the Civil Contingencies Act 2004
- the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
- the Fire and Rescue Services (Emergencies) (England) Order 2007
- the Localism Act 2011
- the Fire and Rescue National Framework for England
- the Health and Safety Act at Work etc Act 1974
The Fire and Rescue National Framework states that Fire and Rescue Authorities must make provision to respond to incidents such as fires, road traffic collisions and other emergencies within their area and in other areas in line with their mutual aid agreements and reflect this in their Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP).
Risk and Resource Model
Within North Yorkshire the IRMP is known as the Risk and Resource Model (RRM) 2022-2025. This sets out who we are as a Service, the risk in our county and city, and the services we provide to prevent and respond to emergencies.
The Risk and Resource Model consultation took place over a 12-week period from 23 May to 14 August 2022 and collected opinion on seven proposals for change, developed by North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) and recommended to the Commissioner by the Chief Fire Officer to take forward to consultation.
During the consultation period, residents, businesses, stakeholders/partners, and employees were invited to provide feedback on the proposals via an online survey and in person across 12 district events. 1,378 responses were submitted. Three resident focus groups were also conducted to further explore views and opinions on the proposals.
The resources we put in place are based on an assessment of risk across the Service area called the Community Risk Profile (CRP). Our research and understanding of the factors that create risk have been considered, having used a wide range of information from a variety of sources. This has helped us prioritise the risks we need to focus on, accidental dwelling fires leading to death and serious injury, road, and water.
We have also considered the National Risk Register and the Community Risk Register created by North Yorkshire’s Local Resilience Forum (NYLRF) which is a partnership of local agencies working together to manage emergencies covering the whole of North Yorkshire and York.
Our Service area is one of the largest in England covering more than 3,200 square miles and over 6,000 miles of road. Our area has isolated rural settlements and farms, market towns, and larger urban areas such as York, Harrogate, and Scarborough. Our area has two of England’s ten national parks, three designated areas of outstanding natural beauty, over 200 sites of special scientific interest and over 12,000 listed buildings.
Overall, our area is sparsely populated, but there are still over 340,000 households and over 830,000 residents. The resident population is increasing steadily and becoming predominantly older. The City of York is also home to over 21,000 students, with two universities. More than 20 million visitors come to our area each year. There are over 37,000 active businesses across the area, with hospitality and entertainment among some of the main industries.
The road network is the main means of transport connecting small towns and villages. The rural nature of our area means that people often travel further to access work, education, and services. Several major arterial routes also cross our area – the A1(M), M62, A59, A64, A65, A66 and A19.
Two of the major rivers in the county are the River Swale and the River Ure, joining together to form the river Ouse which flows through York. The coastline of North Yorkshire runs for approximately 45 miles from just north of Whitby to south of Filey.
If we must respond to an emergency, harm has already happened. Our stated ambition within the current RRM is to prevent emergencies from happening in the first place through education, advice, and support. Through the proposals set out in the RRM we intend to permanently increase the number of specialist staff in our prevention department and increase prevention activities.
Our prevention services are based around five main areas:
- Home fire safety
- Road safety
- Water safety
- Safe and Well
- Other engagement activities with communities, (including seasonal risk e.g., wildfire, bonfire night, chimney safety)
Last year (1 April 2022-31 March 2023) we undertook 8,402 prevention activities:
- 4,076 safe and well visits (which will include partnership and safeguarding work)
- 1,541 safety in the home
- 652 road safety activities
- 236 water safety activities
- 1897other engagement activities
We have a responsibility to protect the built environment within North Yorkshire and York; this includes all workplaces and premises to which the public have access. It also includes other premises to which the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies. We provide information, guidance, and advice to businesses and other employers to prevent fires happening in the first instance and to reduce the impact should they occur. Beyond this we also have a statutory duty to enforce compliance with fire safety law.
Last year (1 April 2022-31 March 2023), we undertook 5,221 protection activities:
- 1,108 provisions of guidance and advice
- 2,654 audits and inspections
- 1,459 consultations (building regulations, licensing, planning)
Whilst the Fire and Rescue Authority is primarily a locally based service, mutual aid arrangements are in place with other services to provide resilience for large scale or complex incidents where additional resources need to be called upon. The Fire and Rescue Authority contributes to national resilience and can make several of its assets available to support a national emergency.
We provide support to national resilience through the maintenance and delivery of these assets. We provide:
- two High Volume Pumps (Harrogate and Richmond)
- an Incident Support Unit (Acomb)
- a flood rescue boat (Selby)
- waste fire tactical advisors
- National Inter Agency Liaison Officers
- High Volume Pump tactical advisor
- Airwave Radio tactical advisor
- National Flood advisors.
We maintain these national assets and undertake specialist training to ensure that they are available for a coordinated national response when requested. We also use them within our own county when we need to.
Our emergency response resources are widespread across the county to account for the large travel distances and times resulting from the expanse of geographical area we cover. We have 38 fire stations and operate a range of duty systems.
Last year (1 April 2022-31 March 2023), we attended 8,195incidents.
- 2,1167 fires
- 2,661 special services
- 3,418 false alarms
Fires – Account for around a quarter (26%) of incidents we attend. These range from very small fires such as bin fires which are quick to extinguish, to large scale building fires which may involve people being trapped and requiring rescue.
Special Services – About one third (32%) of incidents we attend require our technical rescue capability ranging from water and animal rescue, road traffic collisions and working at height.
False Alarms – Nearly half (42%) of the incidents we attend turn out to be false alarms, sometimes made with good intentions, where people call us in the belief something is happening that requires our intervention. Most calls that become classed as a false alarm are from automatic fire alarms.
In April 2023 we informed businesses and the public on changes to how we would respond to automatic fire alarms.
How will we respond to AFAs from 1 April 2023:
- We will not attend automatic fire alarms between 7am and 7pm at premises where people do not sleep – unless a fire has been confirmed (we will continue to attend AFAs at these premises outside of these hours).
- We will attend AFAs at certain high-risk premises between 7am and 7pm this will be based on service intelligence about that building.
- We will continue to attend all AFAs at premises where people sleep.
- We will continue to attend all AFAs at domestic properties.
- We will continue to attend all incidents where a fire has been confirmed.
We are confident that this new approach will reduce the number of false alarms we attend, meaning fire engines will be available more of the time to deal with genuine emergencies and to carry out more risk reduction work.
Productivity and Efficiency
On the 31st of March 2023 at the request of Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire we submitted our North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Productivity and Efficiency Plan 2023-24. The plan not only covers planned efficiencies, but also our plans for increasing productivity.
enableNY brings together the support functions from police and fire, pooling resources on a client service model to deliver services, including people services, ICT, estates, finance, and business planning, to North Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.
This helps the Services plan better for future demands and challenges, increases resilience and effectiveness, and improves value for money for the public.
The Control Partnership Agreement enables Cornwall and North Yorkshire to take each other’s calls during spate circumstances and to provide resilience should there be software mobilisation issues. Because of the geographical distance between the two areas, it is unlikely that both areas would be inundated at the same time, for example during flooding incidents. If there is no one to take calls in North Yorkshire then the call can be diverted to Cornwall who can mobilise and deploy crews to incidents, and vice versa.
The Public Safety Service (PSS) is a pilot scheme which aims to improve local capacity across multiple services (initially including North Yorkshire Police, Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS), and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service) by providing generalist support and targeted prevention interventions through specific services. It brings together several organisations to improve the safety and resilience of communities.
North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner commissioned Kada Research to evaluate North Yorkshire’s public safety service (PSS) pilot. The result is a return on investment (ROI) of 1:7.8m. This means that for every £1 invested in the costs of the service, there would be a return of £7.80 in social value benefits. The scheme, therefore, indicates a significant return on investment as well as good value for money.
We have set out ambitious transformation plans through our Risk and Resource Model 2022-2025. The Risk and Resource Model sets out the risk in our county and the City of York and how we will deploy our resources, prioritising prevention, and protection activity to address and reduce that risk and the likelihood of emergency events occurring.
We continue to evaluate each phase of its implementation from its inception, through its consultation and at regular stages through its implementation.
Our performance dashboards allow us to track performance at a station and district level and we do have some performance measures in place. We have recognised that these need refining to become bespoke for each station, considering the training requirement at each location alongside local risk (community safety, the built environment and firefighter safety etc.) to ensure that activity is guided to add greatest value to the local communities.
We are developing an outcome-based accountability model, but we appreciate that we must monitor outputs which we know positively impact and improve outcomes for our community. We are better aligning the performance measures to ensure that key activity such as monitoring our response principles, maintaining our risk-based inspection program and meeting timescales for high priority safe and well referrals improve.
As the dashboards develop, we are ensuring that the information is regularly reported through our leadership and governance boards. These will be presented five times a year at the Online Public Meeting (OPM) where the Commissioner and service will welcome questions from the public on our performance.
It is our intention to supplement these dashboards through regular “reality testing” of our performance to ensure a qualitative assessment of performance as well as our quantitative recording of activity. This will be in the form of case file audits, watch performance audits and operational assurance at incidents.
His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS)
HMICFRS published our second rounded assessment report in January 2023. We welcome regular inspections from HMICFRS, as the reports are an independent and rigorous assessment which we use to aid continuous improvement
Whilst we recognised that this was a very disappointing outcome from the inspection, we were self-aware and and working to improve these. We have now implemented an Improvement Plan to deliver change on the areas raised by HMICFRS. We must reflect the Inspection was conducted at a time of significant transition for our Service, as we adjusted to organisational renewal post Covid, a changing Strategic Leadership Team and PFCC, along with the continued development of the enableNY model.
We submitted a comprehensive action plan to HMICFRS in September 2022 to address the two causes of concern that we were issued, and we’ve continued to engage them on the plan, pace and scale of change required. This action plan now includes all the areas for improvement identified within the report and the recommendations issued to each of the 44 English Fire and Rescue services from the HMICFRS Culture and Values report.
HMICFRS revisited the service at the end of January 2023 to review progress against the action plan and the arrangements for overseeing it. HMICFRS were pleased to see the service had made headway on both causes of concern and were satisfied with our current progress. HMICFRS will revisit the service in September 2023, to further monitor our progress.
The Independent Audit Committee
The Committee proactively supports the Commissioner and Chief Fire Officer in ensuring the right governance and control mechanisms are in place to support a well-run fire and rescue service. The Committee reviews and scrutinises the adequacy and effectiveness of risk management, internal audit and control, and corporate governance arrangements of the Fire and Rescue Service, as well as reviewing financial management and reporting.
The service appointed a new internal audit provider in 2022/23 to offer a new robust approach and a targeted plan of internal audit coverage on known risk which was agreed with Senior Officers and the committee. The provider noted that the Deputy Chief Fire Officer has established a Risk and Assurance Board with the intention to triangulate all sources of assurance more effectively. As a service we recognise that we have work to do to improve our framework of risk management, governance, or internal control.