COP26 climate change conference: HMFSI inspection outline

Inspection outline by HM Fire Service Inspectorate for the arrangements of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s preparedness for the COP26 climate change conference in November 2021.

This relates to a planned inspection of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). The inspection will be carried out by HM Fire Service Inspectorate as an inquiry under Section 43 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and will consider the manner in which the SFRS is carrying out its functions with the following objective:

  • to consider the extent and adequacy of the SFRS’s preparations and planning for the COP26 climate change conference scheduled to be held in Glasgow in November 2021


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) brings together heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change. COP26 was initially scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November 2020 however, as a direct consequence of the global Covid-19 pandemic, representatives of the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, with the United Kingdom (UK) and Italian partners, decided to postpone the event. It has now been rescheduled to take place in November 2021.  

The UK Government will host COP26 which takes place at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), Glasgow between 1 and 12 November 2021. Pre-sessional meetings are expected to take place at the venue week commencing 25 October 2021. While the SEC will be the main conference site, other venues across Scotland will be utilised for conference related meetings and events. The conference is a major international event for the City of Glasgow and one likely to require significant pre-planning for the SFRS. The SFRS has experience of managing fire and rescue matters at other high profile events, including the Commonwealth Games in 2014 which also took place in Glasgow and at other sites across Scotland.

Our Scrutiny plan 2021 - 2022 contains a commitment that HMFSI will be undertaking this self-directed inspection. 

The aim of this inspection is to provide independent assessment of the state, effectiveness and efficiency of fire and rescue arrangements for COP26 with focused assurance work across key areas:

  • SFRS’s own risk assessment for the conference and areas identified within it as requiring special focus
  • planning arrangements, including with multi-agencies, and assumptions for meeting the extra demands placed on the SFRS by the conference given the uncertainty of Covid-19 recovery measures and the potential for large scale public protest demonstrations and the impact that these may have on traffic management and response
  • the SFRS’s planning assumptions, including the impact of any change to the threat level, for what levels of ‘business as usual’ (BAU) activity may be expected during the period, given the increase in seasonal activity that normally occurs in November
  • the SFRS’s assessment of the extent to which additional demand from the conference can be met within existing capacity, and the extent to which any additional FRS capacity needs to be provided in either the planning stage or in the response stage
  • BAU capacity and capability arrangements for non-COP26 related fire and rescue related activity
  • contingency planning for a major incident taking place in connection with the conference, whether of accidental or deliberate origin, including preplanning and exercising for the provision of specialist support for example hazmat or mass casualty events
  • incident command capacity during the conference, both in terms of personnel and command locations to ensure adequate and appropriate cover is provided to attend any foreseeable event and still support BAU
  • planning for legislative fire safety enforcement activities relevant to visitors expected to Glasgow and other conference locations
  • training and exercising with multi-agency partners and key stakeholders
  • the SFRS’s provision of information and additional training to staff across all relevant functions and duty groups including senior officers, frontline firefighters and operations control teams.


The inspection will comprise:

Desk-top analysis

We will request information from the Service relative to the key areas listed in the above bulleted list and carry out a desk-top analysis of this information.


We shall speak with SFRS staff who are involved with planning and preparations for COP26.

To support the assurance review and to facilitate appropriate access to people and information, a single point of contact will be identified with SFRS. During the review process our fieldwork activities will include:

  • liaison with SFRS and engagement with key stakeholders
  • examination of relevant documentation including strategies, policies, procedures and plans, including business continuity plans and risk assessments
  • interviews with strategic SFRS personnel
  • interviews with relevant Service Delivery, Operations and Prevention and Protection staff
  • observation at relevant governance and planning meetings
  • observation at relevant training and exercising events


The outcome of this inspection will be a published report setting out HM Chief Inspector’s assessment of this subject. The report will be handled in line with our consultation and engagement strategy. A copy will be provided to the Chief Officer and the Board of the SFRS, Scottish Ministers, and made available on the Inspectorate’s website.


The proposed timetable is:

  • May 2021 - pre-planning and consultation on the inspection outline
  • Mid-June - data collection and review of documentation
  • Mid July - fieldwork
  • August - report drafting
  • September - report publication

This inspection outline document has been prepared to describe why we are carrying out an inspection and how we will go about the work. It is also intended to support our consultation with stakeholders including the Scottish Government and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Any comments or observations on this outline should be submitted to the Chief Inspector by emailing

COP26 climate change conference: HMFSI inspection outline


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