Chapter 1: Protecting Communities: Risk, Prevention and Response
The overriding purpose of the SFRS remains to work in partnership with communities and with others in the public, private and third sectors to improve the safety and well-being of communities.
The SFRS's delivery of its functions is focused on prevention (reducing the risk of, and changing people's perception and behaviour towards, fire and other risk factors within communities), protection (mitigating the effects of those risks) and developing a flexible response (dealing effectively with different types of incidents in different communities across Scotland).
Underpinning all the work the SFRS undertakes in relation to prevention, protection and response are overarching principles of managing risk; evidence-based decision making; working with others, and local flexibility and this chapter also sets out key priorities for the SFRS in these areas.
Prevention and protection
Keeping communities safe from harm is at the core of the SFRS's work. Fire prevention and protection activity over recent years has been key to reducing the number of fires, casualties and losses in Scotland, thus minimising loss of life and the economic and social impact of fire on communities. This focus on prevention, working collaboratively with other partners, must continue in order to deliver improved local and national outcomes for the communities of Scotland.
The SFRS should build on the successes already achieved in community fire safety activity through partnership working, and should aim to take into account a range of other types of risk facing Scotland. It must also ensure that there are clear processes and systems for working with partners to identify the most vulnerable communities, and the most vulnerable individuals within communities, to target activity where it is most needed and to make an effective contribution to tackling inequalities.
The SFRS must continue to fulfil its statutory duty to promote fire safety, including providing advice, information, publicity and encouragement to prevent fires and death or injury from fires. In doing so, the SFRS should work with partners to ensure properly integrated public safety campaigns for raising awareness of fire safety and other relevant areas of activity, thereby maximising the effectiveness and targeting of the campaigns.
The SFRS enforces fire safety legislation in the majority of the non-domestic sector, including carrying out fire safety audits of premises, providing advice and carrying out enforcement action when necessary. These fire safety enforcement activities should be informed by risk and thus targeted at those premises where the risk to life is greatest.
The aim of enforcement is to offer support and check that employers and other duty holders are ensuring the safety of persons in the event of fire. Whilst the main focus of fire safety promotion is rightly targeted on activity to prevent dwelling fires and related casualties, work enabling duty-holders to comply with fire safety legislation, along with enforcement, is also important. The SFRS should undertake promotion and education activities targeted at the non-domestic sector to promote the legislative requirement for duty holders to undertake, and regularly review, fire risk assessments. By reducing the number, or severity, of fires in business premises the SFRS can contribute to the Scottish Government priority of growing the economy by reducing the economic and other impacts of fire on businesses.
Strategic Priority 2: Safety, Well-being and PreventionThe SFRS should fully contribute to improving the safety and well-being of Scotland's communities and must continue to build on the successful focus on prevention. It should ensure that there is a clear process for working with partners to identify the risks faced by communities and individuals so that the SFRS can target activity on a risk-based approach and where it can most effectively improve safety and contribute to addressing inequalities within and between communities.
Responding to incidents
Providing an economic, efficient and effective emergency response to fires and other incidents is central to the purpose of the SFRS. An increasing focus on prevention and risk reduction does not change the need for the SFRS to ensure that it has the necessary resources able to respond appropriately to fires and other emergencies across Scotland.
The SFRS has a statutory duty, under the 2005 Act  , to make provisions in relation to fire fighting and a range of other emergencies including road traffic collisions, flooding, search and rescue, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents, as well as having the power to respond to other incidents at its discretion. The SFRS should plan its operational response to these incidents in a way which reflects national and local risk across Scotland and in doing so ensure that its arrangements for operational command are designed in the most efficient way. As part of this operational response, the SFRS must continue to make sure that specialist equipment, resources and skills will be made available where and when they are needed across Scotland.
The SFRS should continue to ensure that it has a robust IT system in place to accurately determine at all times the availability of its appliances, retained and whole-time workforce, and other resources. It is important that live information to Operations Control is maintained on whether or not an appliance is available prior to selection for mobilisation. Accurate, up to date and reliable operational intelligence should be available to crews at incidents, and SFRS should have mechanisms in place to facilitate this. The SFRS should compile and maintain data on the availability/turn out of its appliances in order to inform evidence-based decision making. Consideration should also be given as to whether this data should be captured within the organisational statistics which are published annually by the SFRS.
The SFRS will continue to play a key role in the wider resilience agenda. The Civil Contingencies Act 2004  requires the SFRS to work with other responders to plan for emergency incidents. The structures which support responders in Scotland to carry out those duties are, collectively, the North, East and West Regional Resilience Partnerships ( RRPs). The majority of multi-agency response activity ( e.g. severe weather, flooding, utility outages etc) continues to be managed at a more localised level. Each RRP therefore has its own Local Resilience Partnership ( LRP) to manage the response to most incidents and to facilitate activity that is best carried out at the more localised level. This close partnership working is particularly important in planning for, and responding to, widespread threats and incidents involving, for example, environmental disasters and terrorism, as well as protecting critical infrastructure assets. The role of the SFRS within this is especially important in maintaining people's safety, rescuing them from harm and containing damage to Scotland's economic infrastructure. The SFRS will ensure that it continues to deliver these responsibilities to a high standard in order to enhance Scotland's resilience and ensure communities are protected.
Strategic Priority 3: Response and Resilience
The SFRS should work with other public sector partners to evolve a holistic and dynamic process of identification, evaluation and assessment of community risk and Best Value in order to prioritise and target its use of resources to ensure an appropriate response to incidents across Scotland and support improved outcomes for communities. As part of this approach, the SFRS should promote optimal command, control, communication and tri-service co-operation in response to incidents.
The SFRS has a statutory duty to reduce the risks to our communities. Assessing and managing risks with, and on behalf of, communities is at the core of what the SFRS does.
One of the major challenges facing the SFRS is managing the changing risk profile due to changes in our society, our built environment and our climate. The national approach to risk management should be to prioritise and target resources based on an on-going process of identification and evaluation of community risk and assessment of Best Value. This strategic management of risk will enable a consistent approach to achieving an optimal balance between prevention and response and should inform all the operational policies and decisions of the SFRS.
The continued evolution of public services in Scotland means that how the SFRS is structured - for example, where its people, appliances and buildings are configured and located - needs to be kept under review to ensure it remains 'fit for purpose' now and into the future. The SFRS should make effective use of its risk assessments and other relevant data to inform the strategic distribution of all personnel, premises and equipment. This is to ensure that the people and resources required to attend incidents are in the optimum locations to deploy to incidents across Scotland in anticipation of identified risks. Having an appropriate organisational design that is capable of responding to future demands as well as current priorities will be fundamentally important in ensuring that the Service is capable of continuing to meet its purpose and deliver its outcomes, objectives and goals.
The SFRS should also maintain close links with other agencies to ensure that analysis of its own and partner organisations' intelligence informs local and national risk management and responders are provided with appropriate, relevant and timely risk information and support. Risk information and tolerance of risk should be effectively managed and coordinated through all community partners, including voluntary organisations, encouraging appropriate information/data sharing and joint analytical work in order to ensure community and firefighter safety.
Assessment of information about communities and individuals most at risk will also enable the SFRS to allocate community safety engagement resources where they are most needed. This will inform not only national awareness campaigns, but also the locations and/or target audience for local safety awareness activities. The principles of risk management should also be used to ensure that the SFRS's programme of home visits is specifically targeted at individuals who are at the most risk of fire in their homes. Similarly, the SFRS enforcement activity should be informed by risk and targeted at those premises where risk to life is greatest.
Strategic Priority 4: Response and Resilience
The SFRS should support effective multi-agency emergency planning and response arrangements including contributing fully to the work of Regional and Local Resilience Partnerships in assessing risk; and preparing, planning for, responding to and recovering from major and catastrophic incidents and threats. When working with other responders, the SFRS should play a key role in building community resilience and protecting both Scottish and UK critical infrastructure assets.
Evidence-based decision making
The collection, production and analysis of data is vital to identify and assess risks and to improve safety, efficiency and performance. The SFRS should make use of intelligence from a range of sources to inform its own policies, to facilitate evidence-based decision making, and to assist planning, evaluation and reporting of activity, both at a national level and locally.
The SFRS should ensure that data captured, including comprehensive incident data, is consistent and quality assured. As the SFRS now has responsibility for producing national fire statistics for Scotland it should create the reporting methodology which would lead towards securing Official Statistics accreditation from the UK Statistics Authority.
The findings from fire investigations should continue to be used to enhance community and firefighter safety, to influence community safety engagement initiatives, and fire safety enforcement strategies and to engage in criminal justice processes where required. The collection and analysis of fire safety enforcement audit data should be used by the SFRS to gauge fire safety legislation compliance and inform robust fire safety enforcement policies.
Barriers to information and data sharing can be an obstacle to collaborative working and the SFRS should continue to work with partners to foster a common-sense approach to inter-agency data and information sharing. It should address any inconsistency in practice and actively seek to remove barriers to joint working and information sharing, with a view to developing a joint analysis of needs where possible. In developing this with partners, the SFRS might wish to consider making use of general guidance published by the Scottish Government  on its web pages.
The SFRS should evaluate the effectiveness of its national and local policies, its community safety engagement and its fire safety enforcement strategies on an on-going basis, identifying where improvements and efficiencies might be made, and taking action to achieve this. The SFRS should also have in place its own process for considering operational intelligence from external sources, including relevant research, reports and examples of best practice from other fire and rescue services. This intelligence should be utilised when developing the SFRS's own operational policies and procedures.
The SFRS must give priority to consideration of the findings and recommendations of the reports of Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate ( HMFSI) in accordance with Section 43E of the 2005 Act, and respond according to existing protocols.
Working with others
The establishment, maintenance and development of engagement with partners including local authorities, emergency responders, other community planning agencies, voluntary organisations and businesses is key to the successful delivery of the SFRS's objectives and priorities.
Public service reform is founded on the benefits of working collaboratively, across organisational boundaries, towards shared outcomes to ensure that services are shaped around the needs and demands of individuals and communities - with a clear focus on prevention and early intervention. The SFRS has a statutory duty to work with others to participate in the community planning process under section 16 of the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003  (as amended by the 2012 Act). The SFRS also has a statutory duty to work with partners to prepare for and respond to and recover from emergencies under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and associated regulations. The SFRS is listed as a public authority in relation to the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015  and, as such, will play its part in improving outcomes for communities by enhancing the process of community planning and ensuring that local service providers work with communities to meet the needs of the people who use its services.
The SFRS is also a statutory Community Justice Partner under the Community Justice (Scotland) Act 2016  . As such, the SFRS will contribute to the local strategic planning, monitoring and delivery of community justice outcomes and be jointly accountable for this.
Partnership working towards shared outcomes, both in emergencies and day to day activities, can help drive down risks in the community, and tackle inequality by focusing on the vulnerable and most at risk, thus improving the outcomes for the communities of Scotland. The SFRS should continue to build on the strong links it has developed with its partners in order to identify and tackle national and local risk-based priorities. The SFRS should also continue its collaborative work, including its participation in and contribution to the Scottish Government's Building Safer Communities  initiative - which is focused on reducing the number of victims of crime and reducing unintentional physical and psychological harm that could have been predicted or prevented.
The SFRS should continue to investigate options for sharing premises, assets and services with partners, including Police Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service, where it could help protect public service provision within a community or contribute to better local or national outcomes.
The SFRS should also seek to develop a shared understanding with both local and national partners of their relative roles, responsibilities and capabilities, to ensure that when emergencies do occur, they are responded to and concluded as effectively and efficiently as possible, and in an interoperable manner. Community Planning and local scrutiny arrangements should be seen as the forum for such discussions and the process should ensure that decisions are informed by local engagement.
Strategic Priority 5: Partnership
Community planning and partnership working with other services and communities should be embedded throughout the SFRS. Building on its existing Engagement Strategy, the SFRS should proactively seek collaborative opportunities and innovative ways of working in partnership with other blue light services/key stakeholders to improve outcomes for communities and should ensure effective stakeholder engagement in its approach to all its work including partnership working.
Whilst the SFRS is a national service, its delivery model must be flexible to reflect the differing needs of local communities.
The SFRS is under a statutory duty to ensure effective arrangements for fire and rescue services in all 32 of Scotland's local authority areas. In accordance with the 2012 Act, it must produce a local fire and rescue plan for each local authority area. These local plans should present profiles which reflect the risks to the specific local authority area, as well as setting out local solutions to local issues and detail local activity.
Close engagement with local communities remains fundamental to service improvements in responding effectively to incidents, integrating risk management processes, building resilience, or enhancing prevention and protection activities. The SFRS must be transparent and accountable to communities for the services it delivers.
The SFRS should continue to maintain and develop good working relationships with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA) and all 32 local authorities in order to achieve better integration with community planning partnerships. This should build on the important role already played by Local Senior Officers in developing local plans and engaging with local scrutiny committees and boards to help ensure delivery of services which meet the needs of local people, and underpin more meaningful engagement with community issues.
Email: Iain Harron, Iain.Harron@scot.gov