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HER MAJESTY'S CHIEF INSPECTOR OF FIRE SERVICES FOR SCOTLAND: Report for 2004-2005

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THE WORK OF THE INSPECTORATE

12. The Fire Service Inspectorate were:

The Fire Service Inspectorate

Overview of Inspections

13. During this reporting period the Inspectorate underwent a restructure and realigned its role to provide further added value for the Fire Authorities and their Services as they progress on the modernisation agenda.

14. The main aims of the Inspectorate are to support, assist and, where appropriate or necessary, robustly challenge Fire Authorities and their Services in relation to the Modernisation Agenda, with the sole outcome being safer communities, safer staff and compliance with best value.

15. In the spring and summer of 2004 Audit Scotland undertook pay verification audits throughout all the Services in Scotland which resulted in the Employers releasing the final elements of the pay formula to staff. This also resulted in action plans being agreed by Audit Scotland and the relevant Fire Authority to ensure that correct progress on the Modernisation Agenda was being achieved. The Inspectorate liaised closely with Audit Scotland to ensure that many of the objectives of the inspections complimented the earlier work of Audit Scotland. I am pleased to report that this liaison and efficient working arrangement has continued.

16. During this reporting period all 8 Fire Authorities and their Services were inspected. The objectives of the inspection were to assess:

  • The overall strategic management of the Service.
  • Progress on the Fire Authority's Integrated Risk Management Plan ( IRMP), including compliance with National Guidelines and timetables.
  • Progress on the introduction of Integrated Personnel Development System ( IPDS) including Rank to Role and the opportunities this presents particularly for retained/part time and support staff.
  • The Fire Authority's preparedness for the new Statutory Duty (Fire Service Bill) of Community Fire Safety and the duties contained within The Local Government (Scotland) Act 2003.
  • The Fire Authority's plans to become the enforcing authority for all fire safety issues (Fire Service Bill).
  • The degree to which the Fire Authority is utilising the service delivery flexibilities arising from the Heads of Agreement signed between The Employers and the Fire Brigades Union in 2004.
  • The Fire Authority's and the Service's progress on Diversity, Equality of Opportunity and Cultural Change and compliance with all relevant legislation.
  • The Fire Authority's performance on Health and Safety at Work in accordance with relevant legislation and guidance.
  • The Fire Authority and the Service's information flow, staff communications and general consultation arrangements across all groups of staff.
  • The Fire Authority's performance in terms of staff attendance levels.
  • The Fire Authority's performance and compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and general handling of complaints etc.
  • The Service's ability to maximise Information Technology ( IT) and central data capture.

17. The Fire Authority's progress on identifying realistic efficiencies to enable the transitional funding for whole-time operational staff (provided by the Scottish Executive) to be absorbed over the Spending Review 2004 period.

18. The opportunities taken by the Service and/or the Fire Authority to review the uniformed Service establishment (Section 19 of The Fire Services Act 1947).

19. The findings and recommendations of the inspections can be viewed on http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Justice/Fire/15130/1019.

20. I am pleased to report that Scottish Fire Authorities are making good progress on the Modernisation Agenda. Some are at different stages depending upon their starting point and resources. There have been regrettable delays in the issuing of further guidance from the National Joint Council on Pay and Conditions of Service regarding Rank to Role changes.

21. Without doubt the issuing by the Scottish Executive of the FSEC (Fire Service Emergency Cover) software tool, provided freely to all Fire Services, is now beginning to help them identify trends in their area relating to fires and other emergencies. This also assists in determining where resources might be best concentrated, not only to reduce risk, but also for efficient deployment of fire crews and equipment in the event of an emergency. The dual challenge that now lies ahead for all stakeholders is to utilise FSEC and other available data in order to plan to drive down numbers of fire deaths, injuries and incidents of all types whilst ensuring the correct emergency response is available at the right time and location to meet the identified risks. This challenge will involve considering even greater flexible working methods in Fire Services and will create opportunities for much more integrated use of all staff to deliver safer communities. This in turn will offer opportunities for greater diversity in the Service and inclusiveness across the various groups of staff, i.e. wholetime, part time and support staff.

22. Over the last twelve months members of the Inspectorate have provided advice to the Fire Policy Branch on the drafting of the Fire Scotland Act 2005, the National Framework document and a series of connected legislation including the removal of the Appointment and Promotion Regulations. In particular the Inspectorate worked closely with the Policy Branch and the Firemasters to ensure that the removal of the Recommended Standards of Fire Cover, scheduled for the end of March 2005, was completed with a smooth transition to IRMP. I am pleased to report that this did occur efficiently and that IRMP is firmly embedded in Fire Authorities throughout Scotland.

Crown Premises

23. Fire Inspectors attached to the Inspectorate have responsibility for the enforcement of fire safety legislation in premises owned or occupied by the Crown. There are more than 1,000 Crown premises in Scotland and two Assistant Inspectors are engaged in this work. Inspectors undertake a risk based programme of inspections as well as responding to specific enquiries and design proposals submitted at the planning stage. In addition to the traditional range of government offices, the portfolio includes a diverse range of other types of building including prisons, courts, vehicle test stations, driving test centres, research facilities, coastguard buildings and scheduled monuments.

24. Whilst the distribution of buildings reflects the main centres of population there are Crown premises in all parts of Scotland and this year's inspection programme included visits to Applecross, Campbeltown, Barra, Benbecula, Eyemouth, Mallaig, St Kilda, Tomintoul and the Isle of Rona. A total of 549 contacts were recorded during the year. These included 104 initial surveys, 120 programmed inspections, and dealing with a further 169 consultations regarding specific fire safety issues. Some 120 sets of plans were examined during the year concerning proposed new works or alterations.

25. New buildings opening during the year included the Scottish Parliament Building at Holyrood and a new sprinklered accommodation block at the Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre, near Strathaven in Lanarkshire. A major redevelopment project was completed at Abercrombie House, East Kilbride (Department for International Development). A significant major refurbishment of Portcullis House (Customs and Excise), India Street, Glasgow is currently ongoing and the nationwide Jobcentre Plus refurbishment programme continued during the year.

26. Such projects can involve a considerable amount of work during the design and construction phases as proposals are developed and consultation takes place between the design team and the relevant regulatory authorities. Effective working relationships are essential to this process and Inspectors have held meetings with key stakeholders involved in the management of Crown property and with consultants who provide independent verification of compliance with Scottish building standards. This has improved lines of communication in the run up to significant changes in both building standards and fire safety legislation.

Scotland's Fire Service Preparedness and Resilience Arrangements

27. As in previous years I reported on this important area of work for the fire service in Scotland and indeed the UK, detailing the extent and scope of the enhanced capability that continues to equip and train Scotland's Fire Service to deal more effectively with an ever increasing range and scale of operational incidents.

28. As reported last year, the preparatory and procurement work, necessary to provide these additional resources, was well advanced and this report provides an update on the delivery phase and operational capability now being integrated into the Scottish Fire Service as part of the Scottish Executive new dimension ( ND) capability and resilience programme and where appropriate the UK capability programme.

Mass Decontamination

29. Following the delivery of the original Six (6) new mass decontamination ( MD) systems to Central Scotland (1), Grampian (1), Lothian & Borders (2) and Strathclyde (2) during the previous year, a strategic planning review was undertaken to validate the level of capability and importantly resilience across Scotland to support the provision of a credible mass decontamination response.

30. The review identified a potential gap in existing capability and further funding was provided by the Scottish Executive within the new dimension programme to enhance the number of mass decontamination systems at strategic locations in Scotland. These additional MD systems were purchased and delivered in January 2005 to Highlands & Islands and Tayside Fire Services.

31. As part of the increased capability being provided, a further 200 gas suits and supplies of disrobe & re-robe packs have been purchased and distributed across the Scottish Fire Service to support MD operations in accordance with national guidance

32. To facilitate deployment of these assets, the Inspectorate continues to work closely with the Fire Services through the CFOA New Dimension Forum to establish a flexible and sustainable deployment capability that will deliver the required standard inventory of MD assets to an incident both in a Scottish context or as part of a wider UK mutual aid arrangement.

33. On a UK national front, Scotland is represented on the New Dimension National Co-ordination Group on Mass Decontamination which is a strategic forum on which all groups are represented including employee organisations, other emergency and health service partners. This group is currently developing and evaluating a number of important areas of work which have national implications including, biological detection & monitoring equipment, respiratory and personal protective equipment all of which have been identified as key to supporting the mass decontamination concept of operations.

Monitoring & Detection

34. One of the key components of delivering a safe and sustainable Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear ( CBRN) capability is the ability to quickly identify the potential or likely hazards present at an incident. Extensive work in this arena is being conducted as part of a wider UK led work stream and recent developments have identified a suite of equipment which has been scientifically tested and approved as fit for purpose.

35. In Scotland the ND programme has now provided an enhanced capability across the Scottish Fire Service with the most up to date radiation monitoring and detection equipment and multi gas detectors. The Scottish programme continues to develop its capabilities in this area and as part of our implementation plan to enhance detection and identification capability for the Fire Service, a Hazmat ID system has been delivered to Strathclyde to enhance its already robust scientific operational support arrangements which are critical to the success of this specialist area of work.

36. Currently as part of an inter agency capability and resilience programme, The Scottish Executive Health Departments Scientific Advisor is leading on work to develop, along with the Chief Fire Officers Association ( CFOA), the Inspectorate and other key stakeholders, a common Scottish Hazmat arrangement to provide a robust and validated level of expertise and scientific advice across Scotland. The outcomes of this work will inform and support the level of capability being established and, consequently, the most appropriate locations of the more specialist detection, monitoring and identification equipment such as the Hazmat ID system.

Specialist Search and Rescue

37. During the reporting year, the rollout process continued on the operational deployment of the specialist search and rescue equipment purchased during the initial phase of the new dimension programme. This work also included the completion and delivery of the initial Scottish Major Incident Units ( SMIU) in Grampian, Lothian & Borders and Strathclyde into operational service.

38. In support of the SMIU capability, and as part of the ND programme's overarching aim to establish an urban search and rescue ( USAR) capability, that will also increase specialist rescue capability and resilience across Scotland, arrangements are currently being developed with those fire services that have not presently been identified for receiving an SMIU, to maximise the use of these resources in a manner that will support the programme objectives.

39. An example of this work is the new demountable heavy rescue vehicles developed by Tayside Fire Service as part of modular and flexible system to deliver a number of operational capabilities. This collaborative working has enabled the service to increase its capacity for dealing with the more specialist rescue activities such as those involving large goods vehicles, train incidents, structural collapses and the more frequent occurring rescue incidents and at the same time deliver a standard and common inventory of USAR equipment to a major incident.

40. Tragically on the 11th of May 2004, at around midday, an explosion occurred at the Stockline Plastics factory in the Woodlands District of Glasgow, which resulted in a number of persons being trapped within the collapsed buildings.

41. During the days that followed this tragic event, a large scale search and rescue operation was begun that resulted in the implementation of Scottish and UK wide mutual aid arrangements to provide additional specialist equipment and trained personnel support to Strathclyde Fire Service.

42. Initial findings from the operations carried out at this incident confirm that the concept of operations and deployment strategy developed to support such events in Scotland had been successful, with USAR teams attending from 3 Scottish Brigades and 6 from England all of whom had been trained to the same standard and operating with the same sets of equipment.

43. The lessons learned from the operations at this incident also identified some areas where an improved provision of certain specialist equipment, such as shoring, chainsaw and hot cutting capability may be required. Following an evaluation of the recommendations, an enhanced shoring pack has now been issued to all Scottish Services to complement the initial allocation.

44. Some of the more specialist areas of work identified, have been referred to the CFOA Research & Development group. The CFOARD Group replaced the New Dimensions Training Operations group and works directly to the CFOAND Forum. The inspectorate is represented on the Forum by the ND programme manager Andy Harrison and Assistant Inspector Andy Wilson currently chairs the Research and Development group who are currently undertaking further evaluations to determine the suitability and sustainability of providing additional equipment.

Training

New Dimensions

45. The ongoing training needs for the Scottish Fire Services were established through the work of the Chief Fire Officer's Association ( CFOA) New Dimensions forum which brings together Principal Officers from all Scottish Fire Services and members of the Inspectorate.

46. In order to continue to support the progress toward the integration of New Dimension skills within the Scottish Fire Service the Executive, again during the year, provided the identified needs through specialist training courses at the Scottish Fire Service College, Gullane, the Fire Service college, Moreton in Marsh, at Mines Rescue, Crossgates, Fife and at A&M University in Texas.

47. Urban Search and Rescue Training has been provided for advanced tools skills, Interim Structural Collapse Responder, Structural Collapse Technician and Skills maintenance training at Mines Rescue.

48. A Business case was submitted to the executive by the CFOA New Dimensions Forum highlighting the needs of the Scottish Fire Service in terms of Structural Collapse Technicians to support the Scottish Urban Search And Rescue ( USAR) capability programme. After careful consideration of these needs and the training available at that time in the UK, it was agreed to fund a further course to the A&M University in Texas.

49. Forty eight students drawn from all eight Scottish Fire Services attended the course with five Instructors selected from those who had attended previous courses. There are now 90 trained USAR Technicians with the Scottish Fire Service with a target to train a total of 150.

50. Discussions are ongoing with the Fire Service College in regard to how future Technicians courses are provided.

51. The development of additional training facilities for Urban and Search and Rescue has not progressed as quickly as anticipated in last years report, but is still under active consideration. It is hoped to make significant progress on this issue during 2005/2006.

52. Members of the Scottish Fire Service College and the Inspectorate attended and observed the USAR Senior Officer Awareness course at the Fire Service College, Moreton in Marsh, with a view to developing a similar course in Scotland. It is expected that this course will be available in Autumn of 2005.

53. Instructors courses for Mass Decontamination have continued to be provided at the Scottish Fire Service College. Training was also provided for new specialist equipment purchased from the New Dimensions Forum capital plan. During the year all Scottish Services were provided with Satellite phone equipment, (Global Area Network Systems), and one Service received the first Scottish Hazmat Identification Unit.

54. In collaboration with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister ( ODPM), all Scottish Services received copies of an interactive awareness training Compact Disc for Urban Search and Rescue. This is the eighth in the series of such CD's.

55. Strategic and Tactical level training has continued throughout the year for Scottish Principal and Specialist Officers at Winterbourne Gunner in support of the training needs for Command and Control at Chemical, Biological, Radiation, Nuclear ( CBRN) incidents.

56. In addition to this central provision of training and equipment, the Scottish Fire Services have been increasingly proactive during the reporting year in carrying out New Dimension related training within Services utilising a range of local onsite and offsite training facilities. Services are to be encouraged in this work which will enable them to cost effectively maintain their personnel's skills.

Integrated Personal Development System

57. In the second verification of the progress of modernisation, Audit Scotland reported in October 2004 that all fire authorities had made progress in the roll out of the IPDS since their Phase 1 audit. Within the report under Exhibit 8, arrangements for the implementation of IPDS were highlighted as good practice.

Good practice in relation to IPDS

58. The national approach to the implementation of IPDS in Scotland illustrates the benefits of collaborative working. The Scottish Fire Service Learning and Development Strategy lays out strategic aims and objectives for the implementation of IPDS in Scotland, and the IPDS team at the Scottish Fire Services College supports work in all the authorities. All eight authorities have signed up to the partnership model. All are members of the IPDS ( VQ) Management Board and all are represented on the Assessment Boards. The Partnership Model is underpinned by SQA Approved Centre Quality Assurance policies and procedures. A website dedicated to IPDS in Scotland ( www.IPDS.org.uk), gives access to an e-learning module to raise awareness of IPDS. All personnel attending training courses at the College receive presentations on IPDS. Fire service circulars issued in Scotland mirror those issued in England, with a member of the Scottish IPDS team sitting on the ODPM editorial panel responsible for the issue of all IPDS circulars. All trainee firefighters are now undertaking an SVQ in Operations in the Community under national arrangements for workplace assessments. The Partnership model has approval from the SQA to deliver workplace assessor training across the Scottish Fire Service to the National Occupational Standards, and a Workplace Assessment Adviser has been appointed by the Scottish Executive to support this arrangement. A workbook, induction packs and guidance is now available to firefighters, and a workplace assessment e-learning module is under development.

Source: Audit Scotland fieldwork

Scottish Fire Services College

59. The Scottish Fire Services College ( SFSC) continues to develop in a supportive role to the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service in seeking alternative methods of delivery. The Lead Partnership arrangement with Fife College is now well established and the first programme for Crew & Watch Management modules began in November 2004. Fife College have engaged with a further four colleges in order that the programme can be delivered with greater geographical spread. Approval of a Personal Development Award ( PDA) for Crew Managers and a Higher National Certificate ( HNC) for Watch Managers has been sought from the Scottish Qualifications Authority ( SQA) to ensure due recognition of personal development and the quality assurance of systems of delivery. In a similar context, the SFSC is working with the SQA to have the Firefighter Foundation programme levelled on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

60. Development Programmes for Fire Safety Officers is now delivered by the SFSC rather than the previous outreach delivery by the Fire Service College, Moreton in Marsh. Other specific programmes (Road Traffic Accident Instructor; Breathing Apparatus Instructor; Urban Search and Rescue Tool Skills; Health and Safety) have undergone review and revision in accordance with modern delivery techniques.

Firefighter Development Programme

61. In seeking to set a common standard for the development of personnel in the workplace, the Scottish service in collaboration with the IPDS Team and the SFSC have developed a Fire Fighter Development Programme ( FFDP). The programme consists of forty five modules and a comprehensive guidance document for line managers. The programme builds on the principles of 'Training for Competence - A model for Implementation' previously issued by HMCIFS in collaboration with CFOA.

62. Published by the Scottish Executive in hardcopy format with Compact Disc inserts, the programme is to be distributed to all fire stations throughout Scotland. Future versions of the programme will be hosted on the SFSC website (Virtual College) in order to ensure that 'risk critical' amendments are instantly available.

Virtual College

63. The SFSC Learning Content Management System has undergone a further development process and now hosts e-learning modules within one specific and easily accessible area. Graphically illustrated as a college reception area, the users can navigate their way through the 8 modules that are now available. The FFDP can also be accessed via this route for the purpose of downloading the most up to date version or delivery to an audience directly on-line from the Internet. Progress in these areas of delivery is very encouraging and Fire Services are striving towards the installation of IT infrastructures to ensure that their personnel can access the information.

64. The virtual college will be further developed as a 'one stop shop' for information relating to learning and development.

E-Learning

65. Following the completion of the initial piloting of e-learning modules in January 2004, the SFSC has continued to work in partnership with their content developers to produce additional modules to meet specific needs of the Scottish Fire Services. It is encouraging that the Services welcome the initiative and that the 'integrated' solution to the delivery of learning will be embedded into future development programmes. It is also pleasing to note that learners from nearly all UK Fire Services have registered with the virtual college for access to the modules.

IPDS Team

66. In the Autumn of 2004 the Scottish Executive created the post of Learning & Development Manager which was advertised nationally with a successful recruitment process being completed in January 2005. This post evolved from that of IPDS Manager which had been filled since 2002 by a manager on secondment from the SQA. The Team continues to support the Service in its implementation of the IPDS and is seen by many from across the whole of the UK service as being an invaluable source of knowledge. Team members have been influential in the design and construction of the development programme for Crew & Watch Management and the development of the Personal Development Record System for the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service as well as embedding workplace assessment and quality assurance processes across the Scottish Service.

Crew & Watch Management training.

67. Working under the auspices of the Crew & Watch Management project board, the development programme and associated materials for Crew and Watch managers have been fully developed and have been incorporated into a pilot programme that is currently running across Scotland. The programme is being delivered locally through a partnership with the Further Education sector with an initial uptake of one hundred and twenty students from across the Scottish Service. Successful completion of the development programme will lead to the award of recognised qualifications (Professional Development Award for Crew Managers and an HNC in Fire Service Watch Management for Watch Managers) for those candidates who complete the programme and pass all associated assessments.

Personal Development Record System

68. The IPDS team have continued to work closely with the Scottish Service and the supplier on the development of the Personal Development Record ( PDR) system for Scotland. The system has been through a rigorous testing period that has seen it exposed to Firefighters from across Scotland who have provided invaluable feedback to the team and the supplier on the functionality of the system. The testing period is expected to be completed by the end of August 2005 after which the system will be offered for use across the Scottish Service up to and including the role of Watch Manager. The IPDS team have been supporting the Scottish Service through a series of training events to familiarise training personnel with the system and this will be consolidated in September 2005 with further training sessions prior to the system being fully rolled out.

Workplace Assessment and Quality Assurance

69. The IPDS approved centre, in partnership with the Assessor & Verifier assessment board, has gained accreditation for delivering workplace assessor training within Scotland. To date some fifty personnel from throughout Scotland have been registered to undertake the qualification and direct support is being offered from the IPDS team through the workplace assessment advisor. To further assist the Scottish Service to embed the workplace assessment process, an e-learning module has been developed and made available via the SFSC virtual college. This innovative training module supports candidates in the workplace as they progress through their award.

70. Quality assurance of all aspects of the IPDS in Scotland continues to be provided through the IPDS partnership arrangements, Management board, assessment boards and robust quality assurance policies and procedures.

Future

71. Following the completion of the original programme objectives, a review was undertaken to further consider potential capability and resilience gaps in light of new developments and current threat levels. The review firstly identified a number of priorities which have been adopted into the programme plan, and secondly additional areas of work such as the impact of climate change and the new Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 which are being further considered within the programme.

72. The Inspectorate will continue to work with the CFOA New Dimension Forum, the Scottish Fire Service and other emergency service partners to deliver an appropriate and sustainable capability for Scotland, that also fits appropriately into national capability arrangements. Additional Scottish Executive funding has been identified to support these arrangements covering financial years 2004 through to 2007.

Fire Service Circulars

73. The Team have worked closely with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister ( ODPM) in the production of Fire Service Circulars ( FSC) and associated guidance. In 2004, the team were involved in producing a series of circulars covering the Firefighter foundation training and development manual, Personal Qualities and Attributes framework, Personal Development Records, Development activities and development programmes. The team will continue to produce circulars and guidance as the implementation of the IPDS progresses across the Scottish Service.

74. The implementation of the IPDS is progressing well and the collaborative arrangements that exist deserve to be acknowledged. All eight Fire & Rescue Services are working closely with the SFSC and the IPDS team and there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the model for implementation can be embedded into the objectives of each organisation in the next two to three years.