4 Current Operating Framework
4.1 The Fire Services Act 1947
The Fire Services Act 1947, places a duty on the Fire Authority to make provision for
firefighting purposes and to make arrangements for rendering mutual assistance to other
authorities for the purpose of dealing with fires. Section 3 of the Act gives Fire Authorities
the power to use the fire brigade and its equipment for other purposes and to charge for
any service rendered under this provision. Under this legislation, there is no statutory
obligation for the Fire Service to attend the wide range of non-fire related incidents that
now form a significant part of the incidents attended.
4.2 The Current Standards of Fire Cover
National Standards of Fire Cover were first introduced in 1936. These made
recommendations based upon three classes of area:
• Congested urban areas
• Smaller towns with mainly residential property
• Mainly rural areas with scattered villages and hamlets
The committee recommended that at least one appliance should reach a fire in any part of
these areas in not more than 5 minutes, 10-12 minutes and 15-20 minutes respectively.
4.2.1 The 1958 Standards
In 1955 a committee set up by the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council began work on
reviewing the standards and in 1958 they established the minimum standards, which have
remained in place up to now. The table below illustrates these 1958 standards.
Table 4.2.1 - Standards of Fire Cover 1958
No. of pumps Approximate time limits for attendance
Risk Category in first (minutes)
attendance 1 Appl 2nd Appl 3rd Appl
A 3 5 5 8
B 2 5 8 -
C 1 8-10 - -
D 1 20 - -
High Risk Pre-determined attendance - -
During the same period, the committee examined the standards on crewing, the outcome
of which was a recommendation that establishment schemes should provide for a crew of
five firefighters on a first appliance and a crew of four firefighters on a second appliance on
at least 75% of occasions.
4.2.2 The 1985 Fire Cover Review
Following the publication of a consultative document on future fire policy in 1980, which
suggested the need for a review of standards of fire cover, a joint committee was formed
and a report published in 1985. In this report the committee concluded that the existing
minimum standard on weight of first attendance should be maintained and recommended
no change in the number of appliances specified in the recommended standards for A, B,
C and D risk areas. They also concluded that no change to the existing attendance times
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4.2.3 Existing Risk Categorisation for Northamptonshire
The map below illustrates the risk profile for Northamptonshire based upon existing
standards of fire cover. Being a largely rural county, it is predominantly ‘D’ risk. The towns
and larger villages are ‘C’ Risk except for small areas in Northampton and
Corby, which are ‘B’ risk. These ‘B’ risk areas are predominantly industrial sites.
Map 4.2.3 - Northamptonshire Risk Category Areas
4.3 Best Value Framework
The Fire and Rescue Service is currently managed under a Best Value framework seeking
continuous year on year improvement and aiming to provide an efficient and cost effective
service. Best Value performance indicators are used to measure and compare
performance in both prevention and intervention aspects of service delivery. For the
purposes of benchmarking, brigades are placed in groups of ‘like’ brigades. These are
referred to as family groups. Northamptonshire shares a group with the following brigades:
• Bedfordshire & Luton,
• Durham + Darlington,
• East Sussex,
• West Sussex,
It is worth noting that only four of the above are County Council Fire and Rescue Services
(those in bold type). The remainder are single purpose, stand alone Combined Fire
Authorities (CFA). CFA’s will become precepting authorities in 2004. Accurate financial
data comparison is only practical with the County Council Fire Authorities.
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4.3.1 Current Performance
Our current operational performance is illustrated in the following table, using comparison
at both national and family group level.
184.108.40.206 Operational Performance Indicators
Operational performance is measured using the following range of national performance
indicators. Northamptonshire’s results are shown alongside its rank order in the national
list of 50 fire brigades and the family group of 13 brigades. Many of these indicators are
based upon the existing risk categorisation some of which will be replaced in due course.
The ‘National’ column in the table below is colour coded to reflect upper and lower quartile
placing. Red indicating lower quartile, yellow indicating mid range, green indicating upper
Table 220.127.116.11 - Best Value Operational Performance Indicators
Northamptonshire National Family
Indicator Description 2001 Group
1998 1999 2000 2001
Total calls to fire (excl false alarms) per
BVPI 142 i 69.8 75.4 73.2 87.7 32 12
BVPI 142 ii Primary fires per 10000 population 40.9 41.7 39.8 42 37 13
Accidental fires in dwellings per 10,000
BVPI 142 iii 23.6 21.5 19.7 20 32 11
Number of Deaths arising from accidental
BVPI 143 i 0.65 0.32 0.32 0.32 8 3
fires in dwellings per 100,000 population
Number Injuries arising from accidental fires
BVPI 143 ii 9.4 9.2 8.8 6.8 5 2
in dwellings per 100,000 population
Accidental Fires in dwellings confined to
BVPI 144 b room of origin in B risk areas as a % of all 100 N/a 100 80 40 11
accidental dwelling fires in B risk areas
Accidental Fires in dwellings confined to
BVPI 144 c room in C risk areas as a % of all accidental 96.1 92.8 91.0 90.5 33 10
dwelling fires in C risk areas
Accidental Fires in dwellings confined to
BVPI 144 d room of origin in D risk areas as a % of all 77.1 86.0 93.0 87 29 8
accidental dwelling fires in D risk areas
% of calls to fires at which national
BVPI 145 a standards for attendance were met for N/a 95.7 99.7 99.8 29 8
Number of Appliances
% of calls to fires at which national
BVPI 145 b standards for attendance were met for N/a N/a 84.9 84.3 33 10
Number of Appliances Number of Riders
% of calls to fires at which national
BVPI 145 c standards for attendance were met for N/a 95.7 95.2 95.6 24 7
Number of Appliances Number of Riders
Number of calls to malicious false alarms
BVPI 146 0.7 0.7 0.8 0.6 12 4
per 1,000 population
False alarms caused by automatic detection
BVPI 149 apparatus per 1,000 non-domestic 140.0 136.9 142.9 34 8
The current Best Value Performance Indicators measure brigade performance on the
number of deaths and injuries occurring in accidental fires in domestic dwelling properties
and are calculated per 100,000 population. This indicator limits inclusion to accidental fires
in dwellings and excludes first-aid rendered at scene. When discussing casualties later in
the report, the figures will be fully inclusive.
18.104.22.168 Fire Safety Performance Indicators
Fire safety performance is currently measured in four Best Value Performance Indicators.
These are detailed below, showing the position for each in the table of 50 brigades
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nationally and for the family grouping. The upper quartile figure for each indicator is shown
in brackets next to the actual figure.
Table 22.214.171.124 - Best Value Fire Safety Performance Indicators
Position Position in
Indicator Northants In National Family Group
Table (50) Table (13)
Average time taken in hours to complete fire
3.2 (3.5) 5 1
inspections in category A premises
Average time taken in hours to conduct re-
2.5 (2.5) 11 2
inspections of category A premises
Percentage of fire safety officer hours
45.4 (67) 40 11
available spent on fire safety work
Number of inspections per specialist fire safety
390.1(528.6) 28 7
4.4 Current Performance Drivers
4.4.1 Public Service Agreement
As part of the Northamptonshire County Council Local Public Service Agreement, new
three-year targets have been set. These targets are for a reduction in the number deaths
and injuries and deliberate or accidental fires occurring. They are based around existing
Best Value Performance Indicators. The continuation of additional funding through the
Public Service Agreement is dependent upon us meeting these targets.
Table 4.4.1 - Public Service Agreement Targets
Performance at the end of the period of the Local PSA
Indicators by which (2005/06)
performance will be Performance Enhancement in
(2001/02) Performance target
measured expected without the performance with the
with the local PSA
local PSA local PSA
BV 142 (iii) Accidental
Fires per 10,000 dwellings
19.19 16.7 15.9 0.8
BV 143 (i) & (ii)
Deaths and injuries in
dwellings per 10,000
9.68 6.16 5.5 0.66
Performance Performance at the end of the period of the
Indicators by which Current (2002/03) local PSA (2005/06)
performance will be Performance Actual With the
Without the Enhancement with
measured (2001/02) (Apr- Predicted local
local PSA the local PSA
LPI 99- FDR1 1,501 833 1,666 1,869 1,683 186
Malicious FDR3 2,598 1,800 3,599 3,599 3,240 359
4.4.2 Government Targets
In addition to these targets, the Government have set new national targets, these being:
• To reduce the number of fire-related deaths in the home by 20%, averaged over the
11-year period to 2010 compared with the average recorded in the five-year period
to 1999, with no local authority fire brigade having a fatality rate more than 1.25
times the national average.
• To reduce by 10% the number of deliberate fires by 31st March 2010 from the
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4.4.3 Service Improvement Plan 2003-2006
In line with the County Council’s desire to improve performance, a review of the Service
was carried out in 2002 resulting in publication of a three year Service Improvement Plan
for 2003-2006. This document states three strategic aims:
1. To reduce deaths, injuries and impact of fires and other hazards on
2. To meet statutory requirements placed on the Fire Authority.
3. To support the strategic goals and objectives of Northamptonshire County Council
In achieving these goals the fire authority recognises the importance of prevention-driven
strategies and sets targets in all areas of service delivery to be comparable to the best
practice in each of the Best Value Performance Indicators by 2006, the key milestone
being the upper quartile boundary.
In addition, the Service is seeking Charter Mark status. This is a Government award for
public services, gained by organisations that can demonstrate that they put their
customers first and go that extra mile.
These objectives are consistent with the requirements of IRMP.
5 Drivers for Change
This section of the report describes some of the key drivers that will help shape the future
for the Fire Service in Northamptonshire.
5.1 National Perspective
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service is one of 50 fire brigades in England and
Wales. There are 7 metropolitan (including Fire Authority for London), 16 county brigades
and 27 Combined Fire Authorities. Currently, Her Majesty’s Fire Services Inspectorate is
responsible for inspecting fire brigades and determining centrally driven policy.
The White Paper states, “The current arrangements for managing the Fire Service are
confused and inefficient. Government has given too little strategic direction and yet has
been involved in operations to a remarkable level of detail”. To overcome this, the
Government are in the process of repealing section 19 of the Fire Services Act 1947,
which requires referral to the Secretary of State for matters relating to reduction in fire-
cover or other resources.
5.2 Regional Perspective
Northamptonshire is a member of the East Midlands Region group of fire brigades also
comprising Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire. The Bain
Review identified that improved collaboration across areas larger than the current area of
fire authorities is needed to unlock the benefits of modernisation in terms of lives saved
and more efficient operation. The regional level is acknowledged to be the right operational
level for many functions, in particular securing the safety of the community in the event of
terrorist attack or other major emergencies.
As a result of this, the White Paper makes a requirement for regional management
arrangements from existing Fire Authority members, to be in place before April 2004. It is
expected that these regional management boards will take responsibility for:
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• Ensuring resilience to emergencies, especially potential conventional, chemical,
biological, radiological or nuclear attack.
• Specialist common services, where appropriate, such as fire investigation.
• Establishing regional control rooms.
• Introducing regional-based procurement or procurement to national standards.
• Developing regional training strategies and delivery.
• Introducing regional personnel management and human resources management
The White Paper goes on to state, “Such a regional approach will ensure that service
improvement and also greater savings are achieved from regional fire control rooms, from
reducing waste in other areas – for example, procurement, training, specialist services,
personnel and human resource functions – as well as from rationalising management
The Government will ask for a report on progress in each region towards the April 1 2004
deadline. If insufficient progress has been made, the Government will consider the use of
its statutory powers to combine Fire and Rescue Authorities and impose regional
5.3 Integrated Personal Development System (IPDS)
The Integrated Personal Development System has been developed for the Fire Service
over the last two years. It originated in 1992 following the death of two firefighters, which
showed that there was no systematic way of reducing risk in the Fire Service and that
there were no occupational standards of performance. The syllabuses for training were not
aligned and did not support what the Fire Service was supposed to do, and there were
wide variances in standards across the service.
IPDS is a new system of training and development. It is based on national occupational
standards and provides a framework of skills and competencies necessary to support a
role. It is designed to encompass all aspects of a firefighter’s activities from initial
recruitment, selection, training, in-service development and progression through to
retirement. There are eight different components within IPDS as follows:
• The National Occupation Standards (NOS) Role Maps.
• Awards based on the NOS (NVQ).
• Systems to assess the potential of people to be able to meet the demand of NOS.
• Development programmes based on the training objectives database.
• Personal Development Records (PDR) to record development needs and
• Access to planned Continuous Personal Development.
• Quality assurance mechanisms.
The change from a rank-based structure to a role-based one will result in a change from
the current twelve ranks to seven roles. These seven roles are listed in the table below:
The principles of IPDS apply to all members of the Service, including control room staff,
Retained and non-uniformed. In due course, roles will be defined for each of these areas.
This will ensure that a common standard applies across the whole organisation.
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Table 5.3 - Roles in the Fire & Rescue Service Under IPDS
Supervisory Management Middle Management Strategic Management
Firefighter/control operator Station Manager Area Manager
Crew manager Group Manager Brigade Manager
IPDS is being introduced in Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service for operational
staff during this year and will provide the framework for ensuring safe systems of work and
competent standards of service delivery.
In addition to the introduction of IPDS, the White Paper states the Government’s intention
to introduce multi-level entry into the Fire and Rescue Service. This will ensure that
opportunity exists for people to enter the Service at a level appropriate to their
qualifications and experience, and to introduce accelerated development schemes, to
ensure that those identified as having the potential to progress to strategic management
levels receive appropriate development at an early stage in their careers.
5.4 New Dimensions
Following the events of 11th September 2001, the Government determined that the Fire
and Rescue Service should be trained and equipped to provide a capability to respond
effectively to major disasters, whether naturally occurring or as a result of terrorist attack.
To achieve this, the Government have developed a programme for providing brigades with
vehicles and equipment that, combined with effective regional and multi-regional
collaboration, will enable the Fire Service to deal with:
• Mass decontamination in the event of conventional, chemical, biological,
radiological or nuclear attack.
• Urban search and rescue in the event of major structural collapse, etc.
• Serious flooding and other types of water rescue.
The introduction of this programme and the rollout of vehicles will place a significant
training requirement on brigades for several years to come. Annual IRMP action plans will
take account of the programmed delivery of vehicles and equipment into the brigade
5.5 Civil Contingencies Bill
5.5.1 Civil Contingencies Legislation
The new legislation is relevant to the preparation of this plan because it places specific
requirements on the County Council and a range of partner organisations to assess certain
major risks and make plans to prevent them materialising and, if this fails, to mitigate their
5.5.2 Definition of ‘Emergency’
The definition of ‘emergency’ as contained in the Bill is structured in such a way as to
stress that the only real difference between the everyday risks that the public face and a
major disaster is scale.
The Civil Contingencies Bill defines an ‘emergency’ as ‘an event or situation which
presents a serious threat to: -
• the welfare of all or part of the population of the United Kingdom or of a part or
• the environment of the United Kingdom or of a part or region.
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• the political administration or economic stability of the United Kingdom or of a part
• the security of the United Kingdom or of a part or region’.
5.5.3 Duty to Assess, Plan and Advise
Certain bodies including County Councils (defined as Category 1 Responders) are
required to assess the risk of an emergency occurring and also the risk of an emergency
making it necessary for the body to perform its functions. This duty is similar to the
requirement to provide the IRMP but has been written with large-scale disasters in mind.
Category 1 Responders are also required to make plans to prevent an emergency as well
as preparing to mitigate or control its effects.
Other bodies with a duty under the legislation will be operators of public utilities, transport
systems, and the Health and Safety Executive. These bodies are termed ‘Category 2
Responders’. Both Category 1 and 2 Responders have a duty to provide advice to the
public and businesses to help in their planning for continuity of business provisions in the
event of disaster affecting them alone or as part of a wider emergency.
The County Council has a lead role in respect of local authority planning and will need to
demonstrate that in respect of working with other partners including District/Borough
Councils to ensure that we jointly provide for community needs, always within the context
of the regional and national frameworks.
The additional requirement in respect of advice to the public to assist with business
continuity planning will provide opportunities for the Authority to pro-actively seek to
improve this aspect of risk management. It is also essential that assistance is provided
internally to ensure that quality plans are in place for all Council services.
5.6 Changes to Fire Safety and Associated Legislation
The Government has stated its intention to simplify fire safety legislation by putting in place
one set of legal requirements for fire safety that can apply to most places people use. This
will be taken forward by means of a Regulatory Reform Order and, subject to
parliamentary approval, will see reforms coming into force by Autumn 2004. The main
focus of the new law will continue to be people’s safety, but the proposed move from a
prescriptive regime, where the Fire and Rescue Service determines the fire precautions to
be provided, to a risk assessment-based approach which places responsibility on the
person responsible for the premises to determine how to deal with the risks identified, will
significantly alter the role of the fire safety officer. In most cases the Fire and Rescue
Service will be responsible for ensuring, through monitoring, the adequacy of fire safety
measures in premises, and where appropriate, by taking suitable and proportionate
In parallel with the proposed regulatory reform, the Government has initiated a review of
the Building Regulations 2000 (as amended) which ensure that fire safety is designed into
new or materially altered buildings, including homes. To inform this review, which
commences in 2004, the Government has commissioned research to consider the
effectiveness of sprinklers as a means of tackling fires in the home. Northamptonshire
Fire and Rescue Service is wholly convinced of the major contribution that sprinklers and
other active fire suppression systems can make to the overall reduction of risk in the
community and will actively lobby for changes to legislation to ensure their inclusion in all
new dwellings, schools, prisons, residential care premises and other high risk premises.
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