3. Strategic Priority 2 - Response
In conjunction with effectively addressing risk, SFRS should ensure that the capability of its assets and staff, combined with technological improvements, enable it to respond to incidents with the right resources at the right time across communities in Scotland. The Service should embrace a flexible, innovative and inclusive approach to its service delivery and resilience planning, ensuring its response resources and crewing arrangements are aligned to current and future risks.
SFRS strives to provide the highest possible standards of emergency response in all 32 of Scotland’s Local Authority areas. Its work is guided by the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework and bound by the key legislation cited within this Framework’s introduction.
SFRS need to continue to adapt to the changing nature of risks facing communities across the country to achieve better outcomes for the people of Scotland. SFRS should continue to analyse and understand the broad range of community risks across Scotland to ensure it has the right resources in the right places at the right time in order to deliver the right service.
SFRS should strategically decide how best to locate its operational resources based on where the greatest risk exists, making certain that the greatest possible improvement in public safety can be assured across all of Scotland. The Service should look ahead, working in partnership with other agencies, to make sure that emerging risks are identified early, and actions required to mitigate and address these emerging risks can be implemented before our communities are exposed to them. This strategic management of risk will enable a consistent approach to achieving an optimal balance between prevention and response and should inform the operational policies and decisions of SFRS.
Maintaining Operational Response, Firefighter Safety, Learning and Localism
SFRS continues to have a statutory duty, under the 2005 Act and The Fire (Additional Function) (Scotland) Order 2005, to make provisions for firefighting 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.
SFRS should provide the most effective operational response possible at times of emergency, whilst maintaining firefighter safety. These two key requirements are inherently linked, as it is only when firefighters have the correct procedures, training and equipment available to them that they can operate to their potential in challenging circumstances.
SFRS should review on an ongoing basis all aspects of the operational performance of its crews, to enable it to monitor compliance with requirements, but more importantly, in an attempt to identify opportunities for improvement, ensure it takes action to immediately rectify any identified shortfalls. SFRS should, where appropriate to do so, share lessons learned (positive and negative) nationally through recognised protocols and also with local partners where appropriate.
SFRS should maintain robust systems, processes and procedures that build upon national guidance, supporting the identification and management of operational risk. This will enable the Service to provide a safe, effective and efficient response to operational incidents.
SFRS should review at appropriate intervals its operational resources and working practices in light of emerging issues, equipment, programmes and practices against UK and international best practice and advances in technology, enhancing its operational capability and the safety of its firefighters. SFRS should ensure firefighter safety is enhanced through the provision of robust procurement, evaluation, monitoring and maintenance of all operational assets and equipment.
SFRS should maintain the enhancement of its resilience and emergency call handling capability, providing efficient, effective, highly resilient and dynamic mobilisation for firefighting and deployment to a range of other emergencies such as road traffic collisions, flooding, urban search and rescue, water safety, and hazardous material incidents.
SFRS’s delivery model must be flexible to reflect the differing needs of local communities. 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.
Resilience – Operational Readiness and Capability
SFRS should continue to play a key role in the wider resilience agenda. The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 requires SFRS to work with other responders to plan for emergency incidents. Together with its partners, SFRS should assess risks, prepare for and be able to respond to any significant threats or major emergencies.
National and regional resilience partnerships, in which SFRS has an integral role, coordinate the preparation of risk registers and response plans and arrange vital joint training and exercising events. SFRS should also play a key role in building community resilience more generally by working in partnership with other responders, and continue to help protect both Scottish and UK critical infrastructure assets.
Increasing Threat of Terrorism – Preparing and Responding Appropriately
The nature and sophistication of the terrorist threat to the country continues to evolve. SFRS should use shared best practice and research to ensure that the Service’s preparedness and response continues to keep firefighters and communities safe, in partnership with emergency service partners.
SFRS should continue to work closely with its partners in Scotland and across the UK, to understand current threats and to ensure it has robust multi-agency and Service plans in place should an attack happen. SFRS crews should be prepared to respond appropriately to prevent further harm to life or infrastructure. As a national service, SFRS should continue to evolve to meet new and emerging risks across communities, including Mass Casualty Events. Going forward, SFRS firefighters should be appropriately trained and equipped to be deployed as part of a coordinated multi-agency response to such attacks.
Service Delivery – Embracing Future Opportunities
Building on the evidence-based scenario setting outlined within its 'Long-Term Vision', SFRS should ensure that it understands what changes it may need to make to be able to respond to any new or changing demands.
New challenges and risks continue to emerge for SFRS; for example, the continuing and ever-changing terrorist threat mentioned above, climate change (discussed separately in Strategic Priority 4 of this Framework) and the impact of an ageing population. Such changes present challenges and opportunities for SFRS and all are set against public sector budgets, in an ever more demanding economic climate.
While its response arrangements are a core element of the Service’s role, it should be recognised that SFRS’s response to communities is, and has the potential to be, much broader than operational firefighters responding to traditional fire service related emergencies. From emergency pre-planning of major events to providing opportunities for young people through its Youth Volunteer Scheme, SFRS’s involvement and contributions in a range of settings should be viewed in a holistic way. For example, SFRS should consider how it can contribute to Scotland’s Promise on children and young people and help deliver #KeepthePromise.
Collectively, SFRS’s operational approach, in which the principles and dynamics of prevention, protection, response and resilience are embedded, should serve as an overarching intervention strategy which enhances public safety across Scotland and supports improved wider outcomes for communities.
SFRS should expand the use of its extensive and strategically placed resources across all communities in Scotland to better support partner organisations, in particular the Scottish Ambulance Service and the wider NHS. SFRS has the opportunity to increase life chances in numerous ways such as responding to Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests and other emergency medical events. SFRS has the opportunity to significantly contribute to improving a wider range of community outcomes. Working closely with its people, partners and staff representative bodies SFRS should consider how it is able to save more lives in different ways. This is explored further in Strategic Priority 3 of the Framework, ‘Innovation and Modernisation’.
Utilising Technological Advances
While the Service has already made some advances in changing the types of appliances and firefighting technology it utilises, the increasing availability of information and new technologies offers SFRS huge potential to improve how it delivers fire and rescue services.
The use of technology in society sets new expectations about the services SFRS provides, how data from such technology is appropriately accessed and its levels of transparency in making use of data in improving outcomes for people. Digitisation also offers significant opportunities to accelerate business processes, manage risk more effectively, revolutionise how SFRS reduces risk, and improves safety outcomes. SFRS should utilise such technology to help safeguard the most vulnerable people in their homes and to enhance its interactions with the public more widely.
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