3. Changes to data collection and methodology
This is the third year of this publication and the contents have been developing in line with the recommendations of Fire and Rescue Statistics Data Review - part 11 . This year, Scottish Government and CIPFA (the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) have agreed to a joint collection of workforce, station and equipment statistics to reduce the data collection burden on FRSs. To this end, Scottish Government have collected the information on workforce and provided it to CIPFA, while CIPFA collected information on stations and equipment and provided it to Scottish Government.
In order to facilitate this data exchange there has been a change in methodology for collecting workforce statistics. CIPFA collect information on employment contracts. It is possible for a staff member to have more than one contract (more than one post) within the FRS. The most common example is a wholetime operational staff member who also holds a contract to work part time as retained duty system (RDS) staff. Previously in this publication, Scottish Government would only have included the person once (as wholetime staff) to enable diversity and equality monitoring. They will now be counted twice. Following the change to the new counting method, revisions on the RDS figures for 2009-10 and 2010-11 have been made, which will maintain consistent historical data and comply with Principle 4 of the official code of practice.
To assess the effect of the change in counting method, CIPFA data for 2009-10 and 2010-11 was compared with Scottish Government data. Where the RDS figure reported in the previous Scottish Government publication was lower than the CIPFA figure by more than 4, the CIPFA data has now been used. This allows the data to be re-trended to reflect the dual contracts for the previous two years. This has increased overall RDS figures for 2009-10 by 2% (from 3,063 to 3,125) and 2010-11 by 1% (from 3,039 to 3,063). The other staffing categories were not affected.
Previously in this publication, whole time non-uniform staff at the pay equivalent of brigade manager, area manager and group manager were included within the count of wholetime operational staff, whereas in the CIPFA publication the same personnel were included as support staff. To align this data across the two collections, the information for non-uniform staff has been expanded to identify how the support staff role compares with Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs) roles. A 'role equivalent' has been used to do this. The term 'Support staff' covers all non-uniformed staff. The range of employment this area covers is very varied, for example it covers roles such as management, finance, Human Resources, IT, administration, catering, mechanics, etc. Capturing data on such a wide range of employment type is difficult and there are different role descriptions between the 8 FRSs. After consultation with FRS work groups on this subject it was felt that rather than reporting on support staff by their functions (what they do), a better solution was to report senior support staff as equivalent, uniformed roles e.g. Brigade, Area or Group managers. This helps to provide a breakdown on the level of responsibility held within support staff. This can be supplied by all 8 FRS and is not dependent on type of employment.
3.2 Changes to the number of incidents where attacks occurred
The information on the number of incidents where attacks occurred is supplied by the Incident Recording System (IRS) and double checked with Scotland's Fire and Rescue Services. This year FRSs have identified a number of revisions required to last year's information. These have been updated in this publication. The number of incidents has been revised and now includes all incidents that FRSs attend. This is sum of all fires, special services, fire false alarms and special service false alarms (last year special services false alarms were accidentally omitted though this did not affect Scotland's overall percentage of attacks per incident).
There are two changes to non-domestic fire safety this year:
i) To include information on the risk level of non-domestic buildings that FRSs audit.
ii) The House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) category of premises has been removed from the main body of this publication and is not official statistics. This is due to possible variations in the classification of these premises, causing over-inflation of figures. The previous trend data has been adjusted to reflect the removal of this category. This information is still available in Table 18, as HMOs are still an important part of fire safety work, but the reliability of these figures due to the definitional issues makes them not as robust as the other data in this publication.
HMOs are defined in different ways for different purposes. The FSEC definition that was used to analyse the level of relative risk of the premises, includes HMOs that are 3 or more storeys high.
In Scotland, HMO licensing states generally, that a dwelling is an HMO if at least three people live there; and the people who live there belong to three or more families and they share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.2
The difference in the definitions has thrown up issues around the categorisation of premises, establishing the number of premises and establishing the risk level for the premises. FSEC would count the shell of the building as an HMO but it may contain several licensed HMOs within it, thus reporting on licensed HMOs within the building will over-inflate the statistics.
Although HMOs present a fire safety consideration, the differences around categorisation mean that the information has been published separately from the official statistics (Table 18) and an investigation on how best to report this in the future will be carried out. For more information on how to use these statistics please contact JusticeAnalysts@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
3.4 New Topics added
This publication now includes topics on stations and equipment. This information has been supplied by CIPFA, who in turn collect it from Scottish FRSs.
There is also information on Home Fire Safety Visits (HFSV) which are an integral part of the community safety work that FRSs perform.
Both of these topics were requested by respondents to the consultation on FRS data referenced earlier in this report.
Email: Lindsay Bennison
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