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PERFORMANCE INSPECTION REPORT DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE 2005

DescriptionReport of the performance inspection of Dumfries & Galloway Fire & Rescue Service carried out by HMFSI (Scotland) in March 2005
ISBN075594593X
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateJuly 12, 2005

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A Report by HM Fire Service Inspectorate for Scotland Fire Services logo
St Andrew's House
Edinburgh
March 2005
ISBN 0 7559 4593 X

This document is also available in pdf format (232k)

CONTENTS

Executive Summary
Recommendations
Section 1 The Strategic Management of the Service
Section 2 Integrated Risk Management Planning
Section 3 Integrated Personal Development System
Section 4 Community Fire Safety and Local Government (Scotland) 2003
Section 5 Fire Safety Issues
Section 6 Heads of Agreement
Section 7 Diversity and Equality Issues
Section 8 Health and Safety
Section 9 Information/Communications
Section 10 Personnel Attendance Levels
Section 11 Freedom of Information Act
Section 12 IT and Data/Information Capture
Section 13 Duties under the Civil Contingencies Bill
Section 14 Funding

DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE PERFORMANCE INSPECTION - 17, 18 and 19 JANUARY 2005

The Team:
Jeff Ord Chief Inspector
Andy Harrison Assistant Inspector
Angela Webb Assistant Inspector
Andy Wilson Assistant Inspector
Brendan McCaffrey Assistant Inspector

Background

As Fire and Rescue Services across Scotland move towards implementation of The Modernising Agenda, the Inspectorate will inspect the Services between October 2004 and March 2005. The findings of the inspection will be reported to Ministers, the relevant Fire Authority, the Firemaster and will be available to the public.

Aims and Objectives of the Inspection

The aim of the inspection is to support, assist and, where appropriate or necessary, challenge the Fire Authority and the Service's progress towards modernisation in accordance with National Guidance and within Best Value.

The objectives of the inspection are -

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;
  • 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; and
  • 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).
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Despite having experienced considerable disruption to the Management Team and enduring the major industrial action that affected the Fire and Rescue Service's throughout the UK, the Service and the Fire Authority are well placed to deliver the modernising agenda.

The Firemaster and his staff have worked extremely hard to ensure that the community receives the best possible service and this is complemented by the professional relationship with the broader corporate Council body and a very supportive Fire Authority. In addition to this the Fire Authority and the Service are on course to reach all the milestones of the Integrated Risk Management Planning Guidance Notes issued by the Scottish Executive.

Overall, the Fire Authority and the Service were found to be in the improving category and in some areas, e.g. Community Fire Safety, in the achieving category in terms of performance. I am pleased to report that the Fire Authority and the Service are effectively discharging their duties within the general terms of the Fire Services Act 1947.

The remainder of this report and the subsequent recommendations are designed to support continuous improvement. The Fire Authority is invited to adopt these recommendations and utilise them within the modernising agenda and their associated action plans.

JEFF ORD
HM Chief Inspector of Fire Services
February 2005

Note: For further information relating to Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service visit their website: www.dumgal.gov.uk

RECOMMENDATIONS

Section 1 - The Strategic Management of the Service

1. Wherever possible, temporary promotions, particularly within the Management Team, should be reassessed with a view to making substantive appointments as they arise. Opportunities should be taken to complement the uniformed section of the Service with specialist support staff. This will enhance the diversity and experience of the Service and will allow uniformed staff to further concentrate on service delivery. (Para. 1.5)

Section 2 - Integrated Risk Management Planning

2. The IRMP team should consider presenting an intervention options paper to the Firemaster in relation to house fires and road traffic accidents. Without detriment to the ongoing need for a dynamic database, urgent consideration should be given to the skills set required to create alternative proposals for service delivery which utilise not only the database but also FSEC and professional judgement supported by underpinning evidence. Such consideration will lead to a reduction in the wasteful use of resources, e.g. operational response to automatic fire alarms, etc. (Para. 2.4)

3. The Best Value review of the control room may not be the best use of limited resources and should be reconsidered by the Fire Authority. (Para. 2.6)

Section 3 - Integrated Personal Development System ( IPDS)

4. It is recommended that the Service ensures that all staff receive realistic fire training at the earliest opportunity. The Service may wish to examine the level of Guide Line scenarios included in multi-pump exercises. (Para. 3.3)

Section 4 - Community Fire Safety and the Local Government (Scotland) Act 2003

5. The Service will need to ensure that the increasing workload in CFS is adequately resourced to support the many initiatives contained within the CFS action plan. (Para. 4.1)

6. The Service has established some excellent community safety partnerships, which presently cover a wide and diverse range of activities. However, it should consider all options available should the programme of 'over sixties' home safety visits become financially unsustainable.

7. The current priority targeting within this initiative, whilst highly commended, does appear to require the Service to meet a specific numerical target. It may be better to widen the impact of this partnership and the benefits it provides across other sections of the community. (Para. 4.3)

8. The Service makes good use of data on operational activity and the various initiatives are monitored to assist in the development of targeted Community Fire Safety. However, the Service may wish to consider providing this information 'live' to stations so that they can immediately identify local issues and implement, where appropriate, a remedial plan. In addition, the Service should consider how best to utilise all staffing options in the delivery of community fire safety work and develop the wider use of the CFS Toolkit by station personnel to enhance and support local initiatives. (Para. 4.9)

Section 5 - Fire Safety Issues

9. In light of the considerable expertise and experience held by the existing staff, some of whom could be in a position to retire in the near future, the Service may need to further consider in its future planning, the possible impact of losing a number of existing experienced staff over a short period. In light of the withdrawal of operational staff in Dumfries from the inspection programme, the Service should consider how best to maintain expertise and skills for these staff who would normally be utilised as part of succession planning. (Para. 5.5)

10. The Service has consistently been able to complete its existing inspection programme. However, due to staff shortages and secondments, this has not been possible over the last year. There is no evidence to suggest that this has had an impact on safety critical premises. The Service may wish to further examine its inspection programme risk categories. (Para. 5.3)

11. It is recommended that the Service should consider in its review of working arrangements the full range of staffing options available to them to deliver some elements of legislative work including, where appropriate, operational personnel. (Para. 5.7)

Section 6 - Heads of Agreement

12. Whilst the opportunities for efficiencies arising from the Heads of Agreement and other reforms in the Service are limited, they should be kept under constant consideration, consultation and review. (Para. 6.3)

13. Where appropriate the Service should look to implementing its whole time/retained policy to support crewing shortages. (Para. 6.3)

Section 7 - Diversity and Equality Issues

14. The Service should explore the possibility of the creation of an equality advisor's post. (Para. 7.1)

15. Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service must look at the ownership of the duties of the RRA. It must be audited and reported on annually and Equality Impact Assessments ( EIAs) undertaken for all new and existing relevant policies and procedures. These EIAs must also be published where any adverse results emerge. There must also be evidence that consultation has taken place with the black and minority ethnic ( BME) communities on the relevant parts of the action plan associated with the RES, and the results of such consultation are published. The Senior Management Team must take corporate responsibility for the duties under the Act and the reporting and publication of progress. Reporting on the progress of the RES should be a standing agenda item in Management Team meetings. Each Head of Division/Department should be reporting on the specific duties/action plans for their area. The RES is owned legally by the Fire Authority. Therefore it is they who are at risk if the Service is not fully compliant.

16. The Equal Opportunities Policy should be reviewed and an individual copy given to all current and future staff. The revised policy should include the Harassment Policy as there is no need for this to be a separate document.

17. The undertaking of training in equality issues must be addressed and resourced as soon as possible. The Senior Management team have not been trained adequately on Diversity and Equality issues and this must be undertaken immediately. It is imperative that Senior Managers are trained in order that the agenda on diversity and equality can be taken forward efficiently and professionally. The delivery of training to all other staff must also be considered, particularly noting the new legal requirement arising from the RR(A)A to train staff on cultural and race awareness.

18. A more representative Contact Officers Group should be established and all members should be adequately trained in conflict resolution and the Service's procedures in dealing with complaints. The Service should ensure that a list of these contact officers is communicated to all staff along with the procedures to make a complaint.

Section 8 - Health and Safety

19. It is recommended the Service examines ways to better integrate the use of data produced by the Health and Safety Advisor in relation to managing attendance. (Para. 8.4)

20. The Service may wish to review existing arrangements and establish a Service instruction. Where appropriate, the Service may wish to require the secondary employer to endorse the application so that they fully understand and accept the primary employment conditions set out in the contract by the Fire Authority to prevent a conflict of employment interests and responsibilities. (Para. 8.7)

Section 9 - Information/Communications

21. The Service may benefit from enhancing 'face-to-face' communications with staff, particularly during a time of major change across the Service as current perceptions can have a detrimental affect on morale. Such 'face-to-face' communication will help to reduce concerns. Increasing staff awareness of the benefits that New Dimensions equipment is bringing to the Service and the community should form part of the information/communications flow. (Para. 9.2)

22. The Service may wish to consider further engaging with retained staff specifically on community safety and release for duty issues. (Para. 9.4)

Section 10 - Personnel Attendance Levels

23. It is recommended that the Service reviews the functionality of its Human Resource/Personnel Development management structure. (Para. 10.1)

24. It is recommended that the Service prepares and submits a business case to the Council to re-designate its current development manager post to that of Human Resources/Personnel manager. (Para. 10.2)

25. It is recommended that trigger levels be introduced to the attendance management policy. Whilst reviewing the policy, it is recommended that a benchmarking exercise be carried out with similar Services to explore best practice in the use of trigger levels. (Para. 10.3)

Section 11 - Freedom of Information Act

26. Whilst it is recognised that the Service's arrangements are inextricably linked to that of the Council, it nevertheless needs to move forward and issue the current draft Service order to ensure that all staff have access to the necessary guidance on dealing with any requests under FOI. (Para.11.2)

27. To support these arrangements, staff training should be progressed as soon as practicable, preferably utilising the Council's e-learning package. The results of the initial information audit should be used to extend this process across all Service departments. (Para.11.5)

Section 12 - Information Technology and Data/Information Capture

28. Further work should be carried out on the interface between FSEC and the Active Response System software system and this needs to be progressed as soon as possible. There is also a need to provide limited amounts of data from the FSEC model, which is already being gathered, to stations and departments. This would allow staff to analyse the data and the running of planning scenarios which in turn would build up confidence in the use of the FSEC model at both strategic and practitioner level. (Para. 12.3)

Section 13 - Duties under the Civil Contingencies Bill

29. The work plan for managing the new duties imposed by the CCB are clearly identified in the framework of the report to the Councils Corporate Management Team, and this work plan should be utilised to develop the Service specific duties as a category 1 responder. (Para. 13.1)

30. The Service may also wish to consider the wider expectations of all partners in developing business continuity plans, to ensure that there is not an over reliance on finite Service resources. (Para. 13.2)

31. It is recommended that the Service considers developing a wider role in exercising these arrangements. This should include, where appropriate, the deployment of mass decontamination facilities and support arrangement from existing Services with Major Incident Units to further validate mutual aid and local planning assumptions. (Para. 13.7)

32. The Service has innovatively utilised its resources to provide an interim USAR solution which maximises the capability provided by the new dimension programme to deliver an enhanced service to the benefit of the community. (Para. 13.9)

33. The Service should look to build on existing planning arrangements and consider how best to review its planning assumptions. Planning should also consider, in more detail, the type and scale of events that previously would have been unimaginable. (Para. 13.10)

Section 14 - Funding

34. Reviews of the infrastructure areas of the Service should be undertaken in an attempt to identify efficiencies and/or savings. The Fire Authority should plan for the absorption of the recently provided transitional funding which may be assisted by these reviews. (Para. 14.1)

SECTION 1

1. The Strategic Management of the Service

1.1 Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service is a department of the larger corporate Council body. It is essential that the relationship between the Firemaster, his Management Team and the Council is at an effective level in order to best serve the Community. During the inspection period it became clear that there is strong partnership and joint supportive working arrangements between the two, which is clearly serving the community to a high standard.

1.2 A further relationship consideration is that between the Service and the Fire Authority. I am pleased to report, and acknowledge, the excellent arrangements that are in place whereby the Fire Authority consider and approve policy and allow the Firemaster and his team to manage and deliver the service whilst, of course, monitoring the overall performance. There is no confusion or overlapping and clearly this is an underpinning factor to the efficient service provided to the community.

1.3 The Service nationally has encountered a difficult period during the recent industrial dispute and now faces the extensive challenge of the modernising agenda which is aimed at delivering even safer communities. The Firemaster and his team are to be congratulated for their progress to date, as indeed are the Fire Authority. They are generally achieving all the milestones of the modernising agenda. Progress has been achieved despite the lack of stability in the principal management team of the Service. For various reasons the team has had a number of temporary positions during this period. This is not a situation that should be allowed to continue. The Firemaster, Fire Authority and the Service in general, would benefit from a reduction in the number of temporary positions and the stability this would bring.

1.4 It was noted during the inspection that, just as the Service is integrated into the Council which clearly brings benefits, the Firemaster and his staff also undertake considerable corporate duties and responsibilities which contribute to the overall aims of the Council and benefit the community at large.

1.5 The Service is introducing specialist support staff into several areas of its infrastructure and this has brought a sustainable quality and diversity to the organisation. Wherever the opportunity arises this initiative should be extended.

RECOMMENDATION

1. Wherever possible, temporary promotions, particularly within the Management Team, should be reassessed with a view to making substantive appointments as they arise. Opportunities should be taken to complement the uniformed section of the Service with specialist support staff. This will enhance the diversity and experience of the Service and will allow uniformed staff to further concentrate on service delivery.

SECTION 2

2. Integrated Risk Management Planning ( IRMP)

2.1 The Fire Authority and the Service are making very good progress in terms of IRMP at a strategic and policy level. They are achieving all the milestones in accordance with the Scottish Executive's guidance documents and are now undertaking wide stakeholder consultation on their 2005/06 draft IRMP (improvement plan). The results of this should be ready for implementation in April 2005.

2.2 The Fire Authority has published its 2005/06 draft IRMP for extensive consultation. Contained within this document are statements relating to the current prescriptive recommended standards of fire cover. Removal of these will deliver the opportunity for the Firemaster to take full early advantage of the flexibilities afforded by IRMP, utilising the current incident data available augmented by general data sets (census etc). This data will provide an evidence-based platform for the Firemaster to utilise professional judgement, thus ensuring early results in regard to resource deployment, prioritised areas for fire safety campaigns, etc.

2.3 The Service is utilising the Fire Service Emergency Cover ( FSEC) computer software provided by the Scottish Executive. This will enable them to collect extensive data and help support the Firemaster in exercising professional judgement when prioritising resources. The initial issue of this software was affected by minor problems and uncertainty surrounding its long-term future as the maintenance of the software is dependent upon the ongoing resource commitment of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. This uncertainty has now been removed and it is clear that FSEC will continue to be a major tool in the progress and reviews of IRMPs. It is vital that full resources and commitment to the data team and FSEC is achieved in order for the Fire Authority to take advantage of the flexibility afforded by IRMPs and reduce wastage of resources which can be better focused upon community fire safety delivery.

2.4 The IRMP team are in the process of gathering statistics and evidence on all risks. However, they do now have sufficient historical evidence on house fire and road traffic accidents to enable them to present intervention options to the Firemaster and his team whilst still gathering evidence on other risks, i.e. commercial buildings, etc.

2.5 The small team who undertake this area of work are to be congratulated on their efforts to date.

2.6 During the inspection it was noted that the Fire Authority, within its improvement plan, are to undertake a best value review of fire control. This is despite acknowledging, in the same plan, that the Scottish Executive has undertaken a review, 'The Future of the Fire Service Control Rooms in Scotland' during 2004. At the time of the inspection the Executives report was the subject of further additional work as directed by the Deputy Justice Minister in the Scottish parliament on 18 November 2004.

In terms of best value and efficient use of limited resources it is questionable as to what benefits can be gained from an 'in house' best value review at this time. The Fire Authority should reconsider this proposal in the light of the above.

RECOMMENDATIONS

2. The IRMP team should consider presenting an intervention options paper to the Firemaster in relation to house fires and road traffic accidents. Without detriment to the ongoing need for a dynamic database, urgent consideration should be given to the skills set required to create alternative proposals for service delivery which utilise not only the database but also FSEC and professional judgement supported by underpinning evidence. Such consideration will lead to a reduction in the wasteful use of resources, e.g. operational response to automatic fire alarms, etc.

3. The best value review of the control room may not be the best use of limited resources and should be reconsidered by the Fire Authority.

SECTION 3

3. Integrated Personal Development System ( IPDS)

3.1 The Service is managing all issues associated with IPDS and have excellent staff delivering this. They have an ongoing pilot scheme of the IPDS work packages and recording procedures at Dumfries station. They have been innovative in advancing the use of assessment development interviews and have trained staff in this procedure using external trainers.

3.2 The Service has an impressive training function. The incident Command system is fully functional and well understood by all personnel. Virtually all personnel have been trained in the Service's Realistic Fire Training Unit ( RFTU) which has been in operation for some time. The training site is being well utilised for a wide cross section of training, most recent amongst which is a small USAR training facility.

3.3 However, whilst recognising some of the logistical issues associated with retained personnel, it was confirmed that not all personnel have received practical RFTU training and this is a matter which the Service should address as a matter of urgency. Additionally, it was noted that whilst multi-pump exercises are being undertaken against logistical difficulties, the use of guidelines in such exercises is not. The Service should seek to introduce such exercises as soon as possible.

3.4 The Service's performance review team initiative, looking at live operational performance, and subsequently reporting on this, is to be commended. All training issues arising out of the review have either been addressed or are currently programmed.

3.5 The Service has made good and innovative use of retained staff in delivering key elements of, and to provide the initial capability for, New Dimension deployment for USAR and decontamination.

RECOMMENDATION

4. It is recommended that the Service ensures that all staff receive realistic fire training at the earliest opportunity. The Service may wish to examine the level of guideline scenarios included in multi-pump exercises.

SECTION 4

4. Community Fire Safety and The Local Government (Scotland) Act 2003

4.1 The Service has not, as yet, increased specific resources in this important area of work. However, this is clearly identified within the year 2005/2006 improvement plan.

4.2 The Service's IRMP, has also identified the need for a full review of present methods of supporting CFS, which will also consider decentralising some of these functions to fit better with the local area committee structure within the Dumfries and Galloway council area.

4.3 The Service is a key partner within the local area committees. It has developed a number of initiatives and has drawn on funding opportunities. For example, the Service is funded, via the Council, to carry out a number of home fire safety checks and installation of 10-year smoke alarms in premises occupied by the over sixties.

4.4 The Service also implemented a targeted education and fire safety campaign in partnership with Strathclyde Fire Brigade for the Wanlockhead and Leadhills communities following a serious fatal fire incident. Other key activities include engaging with youth organisations, joint home safety visits with the Police and crime and awareness workshops with the Scottish Prison Service.

4.5 Robust reporting and auditing features across the range of activities carried out by the Service. This is further supported by regular reporting on the outcomes to each of the local area committees.

4.6 Operational activities are also monitored and the information fed back into the CFS department to identify trends and develop targets as part of the overall CFS strategy for the department and stations.

4.7 Operational staff, wholetime and retained, are utilised to support the dedicated community fire safety department in the delivery of the Service's community fire safety programme. This is across a wide and diverse range of CFS initiatives including home risk assessments, fitting smoke alarms, the Echo project and schools programme. The CFS work at stations is balanced between local initiatives and centrally directed strategies, such as the fitting of smoke alarms and hot strike campaigns.

4.8 The Service works closely with various council departments, police and local area community groups and numerous other partners in delivering many elements of its Community and Fire Safety initiatives. However, at present they do not utilise non uniformed staff at the front end delivery side of community fire safety work.

4.9 The Community Fire Safety Toolkit is available and utilised primarily by the CFS department to develop and drive initiatives down to stations in accordance with the overall CFS strategy and national projects.

4.10 As previously highlighted, the Service has an established arrangement for home safety visits. These are presently targeted at the elderly and those who are referred and/or identified to the Service. This work is specifically targeted and these targets are regularly measured and formally reported to the Council and the local area community groups.

RECOMMENDATIONS

5. The Service will need to ensure that the increasing workload in CFS is adequately resourced to support the many initiatives contained within the CFS action plan.

6. The Service has established some excellent community safety partnerships, which presently cover a wide and diverse range of activities. However, it should consider all options available should the programme of 'over sixties' home safety visits become financially unsustainable.

7. The current priority targeting within this initiative, whilst highly commended, does appear to require the Service to meet a specific numerical target. It may be better to widen the impact of this partnership and the benefits it provides across other sections of the community.

8. The Service makes good use of data on operational activity and the various initiatives are monitored to assist in the development of targeted Community Fire Safety. However, the Service may wish to consider providing this information 'live' to stations so that they can immediately identify local issues and implement, where appropriate, a remedial plan. In addition, the Service should consider how best to utilise all staffing options in the delivery of community fire safety work and develop the wider use of the CFS Toolkit by station personnel to enhance and support local initiatives.

SECTION 5

5. Fire Safety Issues

5.1 The Service led in the development and piloting of the initial fire safety premises inspection reassessment process. This work resulted in the production of a desktop tool to assist in prioritisation on a risk basis of all premises within the Service. There is, in place, a robust, risk-based approach to all legislative enforcement work. During 2004, a further review of the risk classification of premises was commenced utilising the FSEC Toolkit to further validate the current inspection regime.

5.2 Due to staffing shortages, the department had been unable to meet its target inspection programme and this has resulted in some lower-risk premises not being inspected in accordance with the existing risk profile timescale.

5.3 The current risk categorisation arrangements are sufficiently flexible to manage any changes due to additional new work and/or reassessment of existing priorities. The Service's improvement plan for 2005/2006 includes a planning strategy to discharge new enforcement duties emanating from the Fire (Scotland) Bill and this also considers revising current risk based inspection criteria.

5.4 The current staff profile within the legislative section of the department is well balanced, although presently some difficulties exist in covering short-term gaps. The current qualifications of relevant staff within the department are good, with a considerable breadth of experience and knowledge. Succession arrangements appear to be adequate for the present. However, based on the service and age profile, it appears that a number of department staff could be in a position to retire in the near future.

5.5 The Service has withdrawn operational crews at Dumfries from undertaking legislative inspection work in 2004, due primarily to the increased role in CFS and partly to the limitations placed on securing competence in the skills necessary for such work.

5.6 The Service has not currently utilised alternative arrangements to deliver the legislative elements of fire safety. However, they do provide external fire safety training to support the Council's departments and operate in partnership arrangements with a number of local business groups such as the Dumfries and Galloway Fire Protection Association.

5.7 The Fire Authority and the Service have established a working group to consider developing more flexible working arrangements for day duty staff, which will encompass the Fire Safety department.

RECOMMENDATIONS

9. In light of the considerable expertise and experience held by the existing staff, some of whom could be in a position to retire in the near future, the Service may need to further consider in its future planning, the possible impact of losing a number of existing experienced staff over a short period. In light of the withdrawal of operational staff in Dumfries from the inspection programme, the Service should consider how best to maintain expertise and skills for these staff who would normally be utilised as part of succession planning.

10. The Service has consistently been able to complete its existing inspection programme. However, due to staff shortages and secondments, this has not been possible over the last year. There is no evidence to suggest that this has had an impact on safety critical premises. The Service may wish to further examine its inspection programme risk categories.

11. It is recommended that the Service should consider in its review of working arrangements the full range of staffing options available to them to deliver some elements of legislative work including, where appropriate, operational personnel.

SECTION 6

6. Heads of Agreement

6.1 The recent long-running dispute in the Service was ended with the joint signing of a document entitled Heads of Agreement. This agreement allows for much greater flexibility in terms of working practices than the Service has hitherto enjoyed.

6.2 Overall, the Fire Authority and the Service have policies in place on all the flexibilities afforded by the heads of agreement. Understandably, with only one wholetime fire station and a limited number of uniformed staff at the Service HQ, the impact of these policies is not yet highly visible. However, in the retained section of the Service there are already some excellent examples of flexible working, particularly in the area of community fire safety.

6.3 The Firemaster and his team are exploring all opportunities that may be utilised in the future, following on from the heads of agreement and other reforms in the Service, and are committed to consulting on any proposals that may be forthcoming.

6.4 The Service has developed a wholetime/retained policy to utilise wholetime staff to support retained crewing where appropriate.

RECOMMENDATIONS

12. Whilst the opportunities for efficiencies arising from the Heads of Agreement and other reforms in the Service are limited, they should be kept under constant consideration, consultation and review.

13. Where appropriate, the Service should look to implementing its wholetime/ retained policy to support crewing shortages.

SECTION 7

7. Diversity and Equality Issues

7.1 Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service ( DGFRS) have gone some way to addressing issues of fairness and diversity in the workplace. However, the lack of a Service- based equality advisor has undoubtedly hampered progress in this area. The creation of such a post, even on a part-time basis, would help to move these issues forward.

7.2 There was evidence that the Service has taken some steps to take advantage of the removal of the Appointments and Promotions Regulations and have already replaced some uniformed roles with support staff. There is a policy in place to ensure that all posts are reviewed before being filled.

7.3 There seems to have been little training undertaken in the Diversity and Equality area. It appears, particularly, that the majority of Senior Managers have not received recent diversity and equality training. This should be rectified as soon as possible to remove any risk to the organisation from lack of knowledge and in order that Senior Managers can show true leadership in this area.

7.4 Despite having a good Race Equality Scheme ( RES), there is little evidence that a corporate mainstreaming view has been taken with regard to the legal duties of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. The responsibility for the associated duties does not appear to lie with either Departmental Managers or Corporate Management Team. There have been no impact assessments undertaken on any policies and procedures of the Service. Further work must be done on the management and ownership of these duties. The RES is owned by the Fire Authority and as such it is they who will be at risk if there is a failure to fully comply with the legal duties.

7.5 There was evidence offered that DGFRS still has remnants of a two-tier culture. Support staff felt that they were not valued as much as uniformed staff and that communication was poor. However, DGFRS are currently reviewing their Equality and Diversity Forum to ensure full representation and have considered the role the participants will undertake. This group should be in place by the time that the results from the proposed Cultural Audit are received and would be best placed to look at taking forward any issues of culture and communication which may come from this survey.

7.6 There are currently two contact officers who will advise and assist staff with any issues around equality and diversity. This Contact Officer Group should be expanded to include staff from the retained and at other levels. This will ensure that staff have a wider range of staff grades to assist them. A cleaner, for instance, may prefer to discuss an issue with someone from the administration grades rather than a more senior officer.

7.7 On disability issues it was found that the Service has the 'double-tick' symbol showing good practice is already in place with disability and employment. The Service has also looked at access to the Headquarters building and is installing a lift. This shows good proactive work is being undertaken in the disability area.

7.8 The Service has dealt with only two complaints relating to equality and diversity in 18 months and has dealt with them satisfactorily. However, anyone dealing with complaints of this nature must take advice from the professional staff so that the organisation is not put at risk through lack of understanding of these issues. The Service must be careful of this, particularly since it has been highlighted that the training of officers in equality and diversity issues is not sufficient.

RECOMMENDATIONS

14. The Service should explore the possibility of the creation of an equality advisor's post.

15. Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service must look at the ownership of the duties of the RRA. It must be audited and reported on annually and Equality Impact Assessments ( EIAs) undertaken for all new and existing relevant policies and procedures. These EIAs must also be published where any adverse results emerge. There must also be evidence that consultation has taken place with the black and minority ethnic ( BME) communities on the relevant parts of the action plan associated with the RES, and the results of such consultation are published. The Senior Management Team must take corporate responsibility for the duties under the Act and the reporting and publication of progress. Reporting on the progress of the RES should be a standing agenda item in Management Team meetings. Each Head of Division/Department should be reporting on the specific duties/action plans for their area. The RES is owned legally by the Fire Authority. Therefore it is they who are at risk if the Service is not fully compliant.

16. The Equal Opportunities Policy should be reviewed and an individual copy given to all current and future staff. The revised policy should include the Harassment Policy as there is no need for this to be a separate document.

17. The undertaking of training in equality issues must be addressed and resourced as soon as possible. The Senior Management team have not been trained adequately on Diversity and Equality issues and this must be undertaken immediately. It is imperative that Senior Managers are trained in order that the agenda on diversity and equality can be taken forward efficiently and professionally. The delivery of training to all other staff must also be considered, particularly noting the new legal requirement arising from the RR(A)A to train staff on cultural and race awareness.

18. A more representative Contact Officers Group should be established and all members should be adequately trained in conflict resolution and the Service's procedures in dealing with complaints. The Service should ensure that a list of these contact officers is communicated to all staff along with the procedures to make a complaint.

SECTION 8

8. Health and Safety

8.1 The present non-uniformed Health and Safety advisor replaced a uniformed post

18 months ago to work in conjunction with the Council's Safety Manager. It was apparent that this officer is delivering a very high standard of work for the Service and has many valuable initiatives underway. Such initiatives include a collaborative arrangement with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service in developing the use of predictive software for trend spotting and trend analysis (Firewatch). This appears to be an excellent system and further examination of it will be undertaken by the Inspectorate to assess its value to other Fire Services. The Service has utilised a number of support staff in specialist posts such as Health and Safety, Human Resources and Procurement. During the sampling undertaken it was evident that the quality and expertise offered enhanced the Service's capability in these areas.

8.2 Whilst the Service has not had a formal inspection by the HSE since the last inspection the safety reference is working on a Health and Safety improvement plan, building on the outcomes of an internal audit. A second audit is also in the process of being prepared.

8.3 The department takes a holistic view of accident monitoring and collates statistics on off duty injuries with the same vigour as on duty injuries. This is with a view to minimising their impact on attendance at work. Where accident causation in off duty accidents identifies a training need that the Service can deliver, such training is given with a view to improving personnel attendance at work. This approach would seem to have particular relevance to retained personnel and is, therefore, very valuable to the Service. This approach may also be of interest to other similarly structured Services.

8.4 This approach has provided the Service with a robust data set. However, it was also apparent that the Service is not taking full advantage of this information recorded by the Human Resources section.

8.5 The Service has completed an employee stress audit as part of the Scottish Health at Work objective across all Council departments. The data gathered by the Service will be benchmarked with the outcomes of these departments results when this is completed. Many of the concerns identified within the Service survey have already been actioned internally.

8.6 One initiative of special note is the use of firefighters at retained stations to act as Health and Safety Liaison Officers in lieu of rank holders. Whilst this developed out of recognition of the time pressures on retained ranks for administration and management, it has resulted in a role rather than rank approach to dealing with this issue which is in accord with the modernisation agenda.

8.7 The Service does not presently have an established Service Order to provide guidance for personnel wishing to undertake secondary employment, relying on the existing provisions within the NJC Scheme of Conditions. Approved applicants receive a confidential memo setting out the rules applicable for staff making such a request. However, the present procedures do not require any formal endorsement from the secondary employer of acceptance of the primary employer's contract conditions. The procedure also indicated the requirement of the work time regulations. The applicant has to complete a consent form in relation to the regulations.

RECOMMENDATIONS

19. It is recommended the Service examines ways to better integrate the use of data produced by the Health and Safety Advisor in relation to managing attendance.

20. The Service may wish to review existing arrangements and establish a Service instruction. Where appropriate, the Service may wish to require the secondary employer to endorse the application so that they fully understand and accept the primary employment conditions set out in the contract by the Fire Authority to prevent a conflict of employment interests and responsibilities.

SECTION 9

9. Information/Communications

9.1 All senior staff had a clear grasp of, and were fully committed to, the modernisation agenda. Contact with operational staff was initiated with both wholetime and retained personnel.

They had good knowledge of the modernisation agenda and had considered some of the impact on themselves, the Service and the community in general.

9.2 Opportunities were taken to visit a number of fire stations throughout the inspection period. Generally the morale and the spirit appears to very positive, although there are some areas of uncertainty and concerns, particularly in the control room and in the retained element of the Service. A broad-based knowledge of the benefits of New Dimensions policies and equipment was not as evident as would have been wished. However, overall, staff have confidence in management's and the Fire Authority's ability to lead them through the reform agenda.

9.3 The retained staff saw issues such as community fire safety as not having much application to them. They believed that work in this area would place greater pressures on employers not to release them. This is an issue requiring to be addressed.

RECOMMENDATIONS

21. The Service may benefit from enhancing 'face-to-face' communications with staff, particularly during a time of major change across the Service as current perceptions can have a detrimental affect on morale. Such 'face-to-face' communication will help to reduce concerns. Increasing staff awareness of the benefits that New Dimensions equipment is bringing to the Service and the community should form part of the information/communications flow.

22. The Service may wish to consider further engaging with retained staff specifically on community safety and release for duty issues.

SECTION 10

10. Personnel Attendance Levels

10.1 The Service has a recognised framework, policy and procedures for the management of personnel attendance levels. The majority of these are operating extremely well. However, whilst recognising the balance of wholetime, retained and support staff the Service employs, it is felt that some important aspects of the framework would benefit from being reviewed. Key amongst this is that the positioning of the Service's development manager should be reviewed, and that the full range of subject areas that such a position should hold is devolved to that manager. Whilst recognising that the Council has a Human Resources manager with whom the current development officer works closely, it is felt that a business case could, and should, be put to the council for the Service to designate its current post of development manager to that of Service Human Resources or Personnel manger. This would allow better integration of all related personnel business, particularly attendance management, with other relevant business streams such as Risk management. It would also assist principal managers in dealing with the many aspect of the modernisation agenda that they are currently faced with.

10.2 The attendance management procedure does not include trigger levels in relation to intervention by line managers. It relies on the interpretation of what constitutes significant absence.

RECOMMENDATIONS

23. It is recommended that the Service reviews the functionality of its Human Resource/Personnel Development management structure.

24. It is recommended that the Service prepares and submits a business case to the Council to re-designate its current development manager post to that of Human Resources/Personnel manager.

25. It is recommended that trigger levels be introduced to the attendance management policy. Whilst reviewing the policy, it is recommended that a benchmarking exercise be carried out with similar Services to explore best practice in the use of trigger levels.

SECTION 11

11. Freedom of Information Act

11.1 The Service has adopted the CFOA (Scotland) model publication scheme which is available to Service personnel and members of the public on the website. The Service works closely with the Council, who have utilised specialist consultants to assist in the development of the management arrangements of the Corporate Council Policy on FOI, particularly in the area of records management and the development of an appropriate retention schedule.

11.2 A copy of the draft Service order on FOI, setting out the procedures and arrangements for Service personnel on the discharge of functions and responsibilities, was provided in support of the arrangements.

11.3 The Council are in the process of appointing a senior information officer within its Communications Unit to support all Council departments, including the Service, on FOI issues. Part of this work will be to establish a holistic corporate system across all Council departments as part of the e-government process.

11.4 The Service has had consultants undertake an analysis of its records management/ business processes within Fire safety and Operations functions. The recommendations are to be piloted in these functional areas with a view to introducing the outcomes across the Service.

11.5 Training has been undertaken for senior managers via a seminar held at Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service and it is intended that general staff training will be phased in on a needs basis. To support the wider training of staff, the Council are setting up an e-learning package that will be available to all Council staff.

11.6 The Service, in co-operation with the Council, is developing the necessary procedures and systems which will be used to support the work of FOI. Suitable resources and staff with the necessary expertise are being put in place to manage these arrangements.

The impending appointment of a suitably qualified Business Support manager is likely to enhance the Service's capacity to manage the additional work associated with the introduction of the FOI Act.

11.7 Based on the evidence presented and sampling undertaken during the inspection, the Service's arrangements for dealing with complaints are appropriate and provide a complete audit trail on the outcome of each investigation and the feedback to the complainant is satisfactory. The number of complaints received by the Brigade during 2004 decreased from a previous high during 2003.

RECOMMENDATIONS

26. Whilst it is recognised that the Service's arrangements are inextricably linked to that of the Council, it nevertheless needs to move forward and issue the current draft Service order to ensure that all staff have access to the necessary guidance on dealing with any requests under FOI.

27. To support these arrangements, staff training should be progressed as soon as practicable, preferably utilising the Council's e-learning package. The results of the initial information audit should be used to extend this process across all Service departments.

SECTION 12

12. Information Technology and Data/Information Capture

12.1 The Service has an excellent IT strategy lead by their non-uniformed IT manager who has clear strategic direction. He is also supported by the strategic management team. The Service has an informed and dedicated IT team who clearly know what they want to achieve and are making good progress. There is a clear strategic direction and strategic objectives set.

12.2 The Service has an IT strategy with all stations and departments able to access the intranet and the internet. In the near future all staff will have e-mail addresses.

12.3 As Fire and Rescue Services begin to implement IRMP (April 2005), the need to acquire even broader and shared data bases will take on greater importance. The performance of the Service in every area will also create a need to ensure that data, along with other forms of information, is captured (preferably at a central point). The work, currently ongoing, in relation to the 'Gazetteer' system which the Service and the Council are involved in producing, should be of exceptional value in this regard. It is essential that this work receives strategic support and direction within the management team and the Authority in order that data and information is not allowed to be fragmented throughout the organisation resulting in duplication of work.

12.4 The Service receives excellent support from the Local Authority. They are also developing a single point of entry and access into their system where information will be categorised by information and not department.

12.5 The Service has also started to look into a data-sharing exercise with other agencies such as Police, NHS and Ambulance services.

12.6 The Service appears to be clear about the future direction and resources required in order to make sure that all staff, no matter on which site location, are connected through information technology.

12.7 The Service, under the direction of the IT Manager, has adopted the Fire Service Emergency Cover software coupled with the Active Response System software package. There is evidence at present to show that these integrated software packages are beginning to be used and show benefits at fire stations and within the Community Fire Safety Department. It is hoped that this will become even more evident in the near future.

RECOMMENDATION

28. Further work should be carried out on the interface between FSEC and the Active Response System software system and this needs to be progressed as soon as possible. There is also a need to provide limited amounts of data from the FSEC model, which is already being gathered, to stations and departments. This would allow staff to analyse the data and the running of planning scenarios which in turn would build up confidence in the use of the FSEC model at both strategic and practitioner level.

SECTION 13

13. Duties under the Civil Contingencies Bill

13.1 The necessary work to accommodate the additional duties emanating from the Civil Contingencies Bill are being developed through the local emergency co-ordinating group ( ECG) and a comprehensive implementation strategy has been developed to support this important area of work.

13.2 The strategy has been developed by the Firemaster and the Councils Corporate Director, responsible for Emergency Planning on behalf of the Councils Corporate Management Team. The report sets out the necessary framework for the development of an appropriate multi agency improvement plan to discharge the collective duties of all category 1 and 2 responders within the Dumfries and Galloway emergency co-ordinating group area.

13.3 The Service has fully utilised the new dimension equipment to provide interim decontamination facilities in two separate centres across the Service, utilising flexible local solutions, which support both local deployment arrangements and Scottish New Dimension resilience capability.

13.4 These arrangements are included in the Service's IRMP document and a new dimension strategic aims report has been developed to support the long-term implications of this work plan. During the inspection, the staff sampled indicated a good awareness of these arrangements and supported this new role for the Service.

13.5 The Service participates in multi-agency exercises within the local ECG. These are being reviewed in line with the Service's Category 1 responder obligations in the Civil Contingencies Bill. This area of work forms part of the framework in the report to the Councils Corporate Management Team.

13.6 The Service has, initially, utilised its retained personnel, located at Dumfries, to provide interim USAR deployment capability. These arrangements are now being enhanced by the wholetime watches at Dumfries who are progressively being trained at the Scottish Fire Service Training College on the specialist USAR operator's course. The Service's own training centre has now established ongoing training to support this new area of work.

13.7 The new USAR equipment has been deployed across the Service to support both local operational deployment and as part of the developing Scotland-wide arrangements.

13.8 A key component of resilience planning is the need to review both existing and potential risks in the Fire Authority area against a range of accidental and/or deliberate CBRN scenarios. Guidance was issued to the Fire Service by the Inspectorate in November 2001. CACFOA provided a planning tool and guidance for this purpose to all Fire and Rescue Services in June 2002.

13.9 The report to the Council Corporate Management Team identifies the need for enhancing these planning arrangements and the Service, along with its partners on the Joint Emergency Co-ordinating Group, will require to undertake this work in developing a risk register in line with the requirements of the Civil Contingencies Bill.

13.10 The Service is a key partner, along with the Police, within the ECG arrangements for Dumfries and Galloway on planning and contingency matters. Where appropriate, information is exchanged to support and inform planning arrangements.

RECOMMENDATIONS

29. The work plan for managing the new duties imposed by the CCB are clearly identified in the framework of the report to the Councils Corporate Management Team, and this work plan should be utilised to develop the Service specific duties as a category 1 responder.

30. The Service may also wish to consider the wider expectations of all partners in developing business continuity plans, to ensure that there is not an over reliance on finite Service resources.

31. It is recommended that the Service considers developing a wider role in exercising these arrangements. This should include, where appropriate, the deployment of mass decontamination facilities and support arrangement from existing Services with Major Incident Units to further validate mutual aid and local planning assumptions.

32. The Service has produced a draft strategy for developing new dimensions and it is recommended that this is further validated by developing enhanced risk profiling for the Service area.

33. The Service should look to build on existing planning arrangements and consider how best to review its planning assumptions. Planning should also consider, in more detail, the type and scale of events that previously would have been unimaginable.

SECTION 14

14. Funding

14.1 The Fire Authority and the Service operate within a prudent budget regime and whilst there is only limited scope for efficiencies and savings, given the small number of whole time staff, there will nevertheless be opportunities to review the infrastructure of the Service within a corporate framework.

14.2 The council are believed to be seeking efficiencies of 1% to 2% in the coming year and, whilst the Service will be subject to scrutiny, it is essential that the Fire Authority acknowledge and make available resources for the most major change programme ever introduced into the Service (modernisation agenda).

14.3 The Service must also identify how they intend to absorb the transitional funding, recently provided by the Scottish executive to part fund the fire fighters pay award, over the next three years.

RECOMMENDATION

34. Reviews of the infrastructure areas of the Service should be undertaken in an attempt to identify efficiencies and/or savings. The Fire Authority should plan for the absorption of the recently provided transitional funding which may be assisted by these reviews.