Publication - Statistics

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Fire Safety and Organisational Statistics, Scotland, 2013-14

Published: 24 Feb 2015
ISBN:
9781785441349

Statistical bulletin providing information on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. Topics covered include Home Fire Safety Visits, stations, equipment, workforce and attacks on personnel at incidents.

56 page PDF

963.0 kB

56 page PDF

963.0 kB

Contents
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Fire Safety and Organisational Statistics, Scotland, 2013-14
4. Commentary

56 page PDF

963.0 kB

4. Commentary

The figures in this publication are subject to revision in line with our revisions policy (section 6.3).

The publication is accompanied by a set of data reference tables, published as a downloadable workbook and provided in section 5 for ease of reference. In response to our 2014 user consultation, additional tables have been added to this publication, providing further analysis of the data collected.

For all tables at Scotland level, the figures provided cover a maximum of five years. Tables at local authority area level are provided for the most recent year only. As the local authority tables cover only a single year, it is not possible to make general assertions about trends in different local authority areas. For example, a local authority may have the lowest rate of Home Fire Safety Visits per 1,000 dwellings but without comparable data from previous years we cannot tell whether the rate is generally decreasing, increasing or fluctuating from year to year. In future years, analysis of local authority area level collected over time will allow a clearer understanding of the trends in different local authority areas.

4.1 Fire Safety Activity

The SFRS is required by law[1] to promote fire safety in Scotland. This includes undertaking fire prevention activity, with the aim of reducing the number of fires and fire casualties in Scotland. Community fire safety initiatives are an important part of this work, examples of which include Home Fire Safety Visits (HFSV), youth engagement, working with other agencies, community road shows and media campaigns.

Local Senior Officers within the SFRS are responsible for delivering fire safety activity at a local level, including targeting this activity to meet local needs. For example, if there has been a spate of deliberate fire-raising in an area, a local priority may be to carry out youth engagement activity, whereas another area may have identified working with other agencies to perform HFSVs as a greater priority.

4.1.1 Home Fire Safety Visits[2] (Tables 1, 1a, 1b, 2, 2a, 3, 3a, 3b)

HFSVs are one of the most measurable elements of community fire safety activity and are specifically aimed at reducing the number of fires in homes or "dwellings". This is particularly important as dwelling fires have been the main cause of casualties from fires in Scotland for the last ten years[3].

A HFSV involves SFRS personnel visiting people in their own homes and educating them about fire safety by identifying fire hazards, providing fire safety advice and installing smoke alarms where needed. HFSVs are divided into two categories; those where fire safety advice was provided and at least one smoke alarm was installed and "advice only" visits, where fire safety advice was given but no smoke alarms were installed.

Number of HFSVs by type

In 2013-14 the SFRS carried out 71,000 HFSVs, an increase of 26 per cent on the previous year (56,000 visits in 2012-13). This demonstrates a rise in activity in this area since the SFRS was established, following relatively little change in the three previous years (Chart 2).

Chart 2 - Home Fire Safety Visits by type of visit, Scotland, 2010-11 to 2013-14

Chart 2 - Home Fire Safety Visits by type of visit, Scotland, 2010-11 to 2013-14

Figures show that the overall increase reflects a rise of just over a third (36 per cent) in "advice only" visits (from 30,000 in 2012-13 to 41,000 in 2013-14) and a smaller, 13 per cent increase in visits where advice was provided and at least one smoke alarm was installed (from 26,000 in 2012-13 to 30,000 in 2013-14). Whilst the number of "advice only" HFSVs has more than doubled in the last four years (since 2010-11), the number of HFSVs where at least one smoke alarm was installed has decreased by 13 per cent over the same period.

A total of 60,000 smoke alarms were installed in 2013-14, an increase of over a third (35 per cent) compared to the previous year (44,000). On average, two smoke alarms were installed on each alarm installation visit in 2013-14, the first time the average has reached this level.

Survey data[4] has shown that the proportion of households in Scotland without a smoke alarm has remained relatively stable for the last four years at just under 7 per cent (from 2010 to 2013 inclusive). The data also suggests that some households which previously had only one smoke alarm may now have two or more alarms. The proportion of households with more than one smoke alarm has risen by around 4 percentage points (from an estimated 52 per cent in 2010 to 56 per cent in 2013), whilst the proportion of households with only one smoke alarm has decreased by a similar amount (by 3 percentage points from 41 per cent in 2010 to 38 per cent in 2013).

Number of HFSVs by risk level

HFSVs are most effective when targeted towards people most at risk of fire in the home. The SFRS uses the Fire Service Emergency Cover Toolkit (FSEC) to classify the risk level of each home into the following five categories:

risk level

The FSEC toolkit uses a range of information to determine the appropriate risk category for a household and the results can be used to help target HFSVs.

Looking at the breakdown of HFSVs by risk level helps to provide an understanding of how appropriately they were targeted. Two in every five HFSVs in 2013-14 were to homes with an "above" or "well above" average risk level (28,000 visits or 40 per cent of the total). This is around the same proportion as two years earlier, but 9 percentage points lower than in 2012-13 (49 per cent of the total).

Chart 3 - Percentage of total HFSVs by risk level, 2011-12 to 2013-14

Chart 3 - Percentage of total HFSVs by risk level, 2011-12 to 2013-14

The number of HFSVs to homes with an "average" risk level more than doubled between 2012-13 and 2013-14 (from around 8,000 in 2012-13 to 20,000 in 2013-14). There was a smaller increase of 54 per cent in the number of HFSVs to homes with an "above average" risk level (from around 12,000 in 2012-13 to 18,000 in 2013-14),whilst the number of visits to dwellings with the highest risk level decreased by 36 per cent (from around 16,000 in 2012-13 to 10,000 in 2013-14). It is important to note that the risk level breakdown of HFSVs performed by SFRS is in part determined by the risk level of the properties referred to them for a HFSV by other agencies, for example social services or the local authority.

Chart 4 - Number of HFSVs by risk level, Scotland, 2011-12 to 2013-14

Chart 4 - Number of HFSVs by risk level, Scotland, 2011-12 to 2013-14

4.2 Fire Stations

Fire stations in Scotland are classified into one of the following four categories:

Wholetime - where a station is primarily staffed by people whose main employment is as a fire-fighter, regardless of the role.

Retained Duty System (RDS) - where a station is primarily staffed by people who are contracted to be available at agreed periods of time for fire-fighting duties. Such staff could have alternative full-time employment.

Volunteer - where a station is primarily staffed by people who volunteer in a fire-fighting capacity. They tend to be in small rural communities, where the number of incidents are low.

Day crewed - where a station is staffed by wholetime employees during the day and the same employees are on call from their homes outwith these times.

Stations are classified according to their primary staffing type. This means that if a station is crewed by both Wholetime and RDS staff, it will be reported here as Wholetime.

Number of Fire Stations (Tables 4, 4a and 4b)

On the 31st March 2014 there were 357 fire stations in Scotland. This is the same number as in the previous year, meaning there have been no stations openings or closures in 2013-14. Two thirds of all stations were primarily RDS crewed (237 stations or 66 per cent), 21 per cent were Wholetime (74 stations), 12 per cent were Volunteer (43 stations) and 1 per cent were Day crewed (3 stations).

Chart 5 - Fire and Rescue Stations in Scotland by crewing type, as at 31 March 2014

Chart 5 - Fire and Rescue Stations in Scotland by crewing type, as at 31 March 2014

The local authority area with the largest number of stations was Highland, which contained 17 per cent of all stations across Scotland (61 stations), followed by Argyll and Bute, with 11 per cent (39 stations). These local authorities have the two largest geographical areas in Scotland.

Stations by crewing type

Urban areas tend to have a higher proportion of Wholetime crewed stations, whilst rural areas have a higher proportion of RDS and Volunteer crewed stations. This may be because there tend to be more fires in urban areas, as well as more people living in close proximity to each other.

All stations in the Glasgow City local authority were Wholetime crewed (11 stations), the highest number of Wholetime crewed stations of any local authority in Scotland. In contrast, almost two thirds of all stations in Argyll and Bute were Volunteer crewed (64 per cent or 25 stations), accounting for more than half of all Volunteer crewed stations across Scotland (25 out of a total 43).

4.3 Vehicles and Equipment (Appliances) (Tables 5 and 5a)

Data management and comparability over time

Prior to the creation of the SFRS, each of the eight FRSs recorded their vehicles and equipment or "appliances" data separately. Once the SFRS was established at the start of 2013-14, an interim recording system was used to provide a central record of this data, in advance of a robust national data management system being implemented at a later date. The absence of such a system 2013-14 means caution should be taken when comparing this year's figures and those provided last year. Whilst this year's data return was compiled nationally, meaning the data could be categorised more consistently across Scotland, the separate records held by each of the eight FRSs in previous years allowed for some variation in how the data was categorised. The adoption of a centralised management system to record this information will allow accurate comparisons to be made in future years.

Number of vehicles and appliances

For the purpose of reporting, the vehicles and equipment used by SFRS personnel to perform their duties are divided into two categories; "operational" appliances and "non-operational" fleet. Operational appliances include specialist vehicles and equipment used to respond to incidents, such as fire engines ("pumps") and height, rescue and resilience equipment. Non-operational fleet consists largely of non-specialist equipment such as cars and vans, but also training and reserve appliances.

The SFRS reported a total of 1,301 vehicles and appliances as of 31 March 2014, 44 per cent of which were classed as "operational" (577 appliances). Pumping appliances accounted for around four out of every five operational appliances (452 in total). These are the general purpose fire-fighting vehicles based at most fire stations. The SFRS has reported the disposal of some older appliances between 31 March 2013 and 2014, although due to the data management issues described it is not possible to determine the overall change in operational appliance numbers.

There were 724 items of "non-operational" fleet at 31 March 2014, 56 per cent of all vehicles and equipment. Vehicles such as cars and vans accounted for the majority of the SFRS's non-operational fleet (87 per cent or 628 items), with the remaining 13 per cent being reserve or training appliances. Whilst caution should be taken when comparing the 2014 figure with that reported a year earlier, current figures suggest a 19 per cent decrease in non-operational fleet. A reduction in senior staff following the creation of the single service is likely to have resulted in a drop in leased vehicles (cars and vans), which account for the majority of non-operational fleet.

The local authority with the largest number of operational appliances was Highland, with 88 operational appliances or 15 per cent of the Scotland total. This is unsurprising given the high proportion of fire stations based there (17 per cent of the Scotland total).

4.4 Workforce

When the SFRS replaced the eight former FRSs of Scotland on 1st April 2013, a new organisational structure was established. The SFRS's Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) has overall responsibility for the delivery of fire and rescue services across Scotland, on behalf of the SFRS Board. There are three regional Service Delivery Areas (SDAs), North, East and West, each of which has a number of Local Senior Officers (LSOs) who work with local authorities and partners to deliver fire and rescue services directly. Each LSO Area contains one or more of the 32 Scottish local authorities.

This is the first year that workforce figures in the tables to accompany this publication show the number of staff broken down by Area of Responsibility within the organisational structure of the SFRS. The four categories used are National, Service Delivery Area, Local Senior Officer Area and Local Authority Area. Further information on this breakdown is provided in the notes section of the downloadable workbook of tables.

Workforce figures in this publication are measured in one of two ways - Headcount and Full Time Equivalent (FTE). Headcount figures do not take into consideration individuals' working hours whereas FTE figures do. Both are discussed in further detail below. Where possible staff numbers are broken down by the type of staff, of which there are five main types:

Wholetime operational - Staff whose main employment is as a firefighter, regardless of their role.

Retained duty system (RDS) - Staff contracted to be available and on-call for agreed periods of time for fire-fighting purposes, but who could have an alternative full-time employment.

Control staff - Staff who are employed to work in SFRS control centres to answer emergency calls and deal with mobilising, communications and related activities.

Support staff - Staff employed in supporting roles such as technical support and administration.

Volunteers - Staff who volunteer and may be on call in a fire-fighting or other capacity.

4.4.1 Number of Staff (Tables 6a, 6b, 7, 7a, 7b, 7c, 7d, 7e, 8a, 8b, 8c and 8d)

Headcount

The total headcount of SFRS staff decreased by five per cent (480 staff members) between 31 March 2013 and 2014 (from 8,964 to 8,484). This compares to a decrease of one per cent (76 staff members) between 2012 and 2013. Much of the overall reduction is likely to be a result of staff leaving the SFRS following reform. The creation of the SFRS as the national fire and rescue service provided opportunities for efficiency savings to be made through the sharing of services. In addition, the SFRS was required to reduce their operating costs in 2013-14 and a voluntary severance/early retirement scheme was held through which the SFRS report around 70 people left the service[5].

Amongst the five staff types, the largest decrease in numbers - as opposed to percentage terms - was amongst wholetime operational and RDS staff, which reduced by 150 and 136 staff members respectively (a 4 per cent reduction from the 2013 figure in each case).

Excluding volunteers, the biggest decrease in percentage terms was in the support staff category, which decreased by 12 per cent or 125 staff members between 31 March 2013 and 2014. The centralisation of services as a result of the move from eight regional FRSs to one national service was particularly relevant for support staff. This may in part explain the relatively large percentage decrease in the number of support staff.

There were 58 fewer volunteer staff members (a reduction of 14 per cent) at 31 March 2014 compared to the previous year. Whilst staff numbers reduced across all types of SFRS staff, the reduction in control staff was the smallest in number (11 staff members), five per cent of the previous year's total.

Chart 7 - Headcount of Fire and Rescue Service Staff as at 31 March, 2010 to 2014, Scotland

Chart 7 - Headcount of Fire and Rescue Service Staff as at 31 March, 2010 to 2014, Scotland

Full Time Equivalent

This is the third year that full time equivalent (FTE) information has been collected on fire and rescue service staff (except or volunteers). A staff member's FTE is based on the standard contract on which they are employed. For example, if the member of staff is employed on a RDS contract, the FTE will be based on the standard hours of a RDS contract. If a staff member is contracted to work half the number of hours of a standard contract, this is equivalent to 0.5 FTE, whereas the headcount would be one.

The total number of FTE staff at 31 March 2014 was 7,690, compared to a headcount figure of 8,125 (both figures exclude volunteers[6]).

The FTE staff total (excluding volunteers) has decreased by five per cent (almost 400 FTE staff) between 31 March 2013 and 2014, the same percentage decrease as the total headcount (excluding volunteers) over this period (422 staff). This compares to a drop of one per cent during the previous year.

Table A shows that it is more common for RDS and support staff to work less than standard contract hours.

Table A - Scottish Fire and Rescue Service staffing by Headcount and Full-time equivalent (FTE), as at 31 March 2014

Staffing Type Headcount FTE Difference
Wholetime operational 4,001 4,001 0
Retained Duty System (RDS) 2,940 2,665 275
Control 223 213 10
Support staff 961 811 150
All staff (excluding volunteers) Total 8,125 7,690 435

4.4.2 Gender (Tables 9, 10, 11, and 12)

Headcount figures as at 31 March 2014 show that for every ten SFRS staff members, nine were male and one was female, the same gender split as in the previous year.

The gender split was not consistent across staffing types. Around 95 per cent of wholetime operational and RDS staff were male (3,842 and 2,762 staff respectively), whereas almost 90 per cent of control staff were female (199 staff). Other than control staff, the only other staff type where more females than males were employed was in the support staff category (non-uniformed staff such as catering, administrative and premises staff). The gender split for support staff was 57 per cent female and 43 per cent male. The majority of volunteers were male (86 per cent).

Of the 1,133 female staff, around half (48 per cent) were employed as support staff. In contrast, of the 7,351 male staff, 6 per cent were employed as support staff and the largest proportion (52 per cent) were working as wholetime operational staff. These proportions have been consistent over the last 4 years.

The total number of male and female SFRS staff both decreased by 5 per cent in the year to 31 March 2014, a reduction of 423 males and 57 females. The decrease in female staff was largely due to a reduction of ten per cent (or 59 staff) in the number of female support staff, the largest area of female employment in the SFRS. The majority of the decrease in male staff occurred in the wholetime operational and RDS staffing categories. There were 151 fewer male wholetime operational firefighters as at 31 March 2014 compared to the previous year (a four per cent reduction) and 141 fewer male RDS firefighters (five per cent reduction).

Chart 8 - Percentage of female staff by staffing type, as at 31 March 2010 to 2014, Scotland

Chart 8 - Percentage of female staff by staffing type, as at 31 March 2010 to 2014, Scotland

Note: percentages calculated on headcount figures

4.4.3 Age (Table 13)

For the purpose of this analysis the ages of SFRS staff have been grouped into the following categories; Under 30, 30-39, 40-49 and 50 and over. The tables which accompany this publication provide further breakdowns of these age bands.

The overall figures for Scotland show that the age range with the largest proportion of SFRS staff was the 40-49 year old category (43 per cent or 3,610 staff members). A further 26 per cent (2,223) were in the 30-39 age range, 21 per cent (1,756) were in the 50 and over age range and a final 10 per cent (895) were under 30 years old.

Chart 9 - Headcount of total SFRS staff by age band as at 31 March 2014

Chart 9 - Headcount of total SFRS staff by age band as at 31 March 2014

Note: percentages calculated on headcount figures

On 31 March 2014, SFRS staff in a non-fire-fighting capacity tended to be older than those in fire-fighting roles. For both control room and support staff the age range with the highest proportion of staff was the oldest of the reporting categories, aged 50 and over (40 and 44 per cent respectively). For wholetime operational, RDS and volunteer staff, the age range with the highest proportion of staff was the 40-49 year old category. Across all staff types other than volunteers the age range with the smallest proportion of staff was the under 30 age group. The relatively low proportion of wholetime operational staff in the 50 and over age range (13 per cent) compared to other staff types is influenced by the difference in retirement arrangements for operational staff.

Chart 10 - Percentage of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Headcount by type of staffing and age range, as at 31 March 2014, Scotland

Chart 10 - Percentage of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Headcount by type of staffing and age range, as at 31 March 2014, Scotland

Note: percentages calculated on headcount figures

4.4.4 Ethnicity and Disability (Tables 14 and 15)

Staff ethnicity is reported here using three categories; White, Ethnic minority and Not stated. Further information on the sub-categories included within each of these groups is provided in section 6.6, although figures are not provided using this breakdown due to the disclosive nature of the small numbers involved. Please note that because the ethnicity of some staff is not stated, the actual number of "white" and "ethnic minority" staff will be higher than that reported here.

As of 31 March 2014 less than one per cent of staff were recorded as belonging to an ethnic minority group, as has been the case in each of the last five years. This is equivalent to a total of less than 70 staff, or around one in every 125 staff members. The percentage of staff recorded as belonging to an ethnic minority was fairly consistent across the different staff types, with the exception of control staff. The ethnicity of more than half of control staff was recorded as "not stated", with no control staff recorded as belonging to an ethnic minority.

Prior to 2014, the staff type with the lowest proportion of staff recorded as belonging to an ethnic minority group was RDS staff, at around 0.2 per cent. At 31 March 2014 however, the proportion of RDS staff recorded as belonging to an ethnic minority group was 1.1 per cent, the highest of any of the staff types. Whilst this represents an increase in proportion, it is important to remember that the underlying values on which these percentages are based are relatively small, meaning they are subject to large fluctuations even if the underlying number has changed very little. In addition, a decrease in total staff means that an increase in percentage terms does not mean an actual increase in the underlying figures.

The ethnicity category of 38 per cent of staff was recorded as "not stated" in this year's return, an increase of almost 20 percentage points compared to the previous year. In contrast, the proportion of staff whose ethnicity was recorded as "white" reduced by 21 percentage points during the same period. There is no apparent reason for these changes, which suggests that the difference is due to changes in information management as opposed to the underlying figures. A centralised HR function was created at the same time as the establishment of the SFRS which may have brought about these changes. These issues are being followed up with SFRS in order to ensure ethnicity information continues to be accurately recorded following the move to the single service.

As of 31 March 2014, 0.3 per cent of SFRS staff were recorded as having a disability, compared to 0.6 per cent the previous year. The staff type with the highest proportion of staff recorded as having a disability was control staff (1.8 per cent) and the lowest was wholetime operational and RDS staff (0.2 per cent).

For all staff types the proportion of staff recorded as having a disability was lower in 2014 than in the previous 3 years. In particular, the proportion of support staff recorded as having a disability dropped from 1.5 per cent as at 31 March 2013 to 0.7 per cent in 2014.

4.5 Attacks on Fire and Rescue Personnel (Tables 16a, 16b and 17)

An electronic Incident Recording System (IRS) is used to collect information on fire and rescue incidents that the SFRS attends. Amongst the information recorded is the number of incidents where one or more attacks on SFRS personnel occurred. The figures reported here show the number of incidents where one or more attacks occurred, with the numbers representing incidents and not the individual number of attacks which occurred. For example, if items were thrown at multiple fire appliances in one incident, this would be recorded as one incident, where one or more attacks occurred. The number of personnel injured during attacks at a single incident is recorded individually, so if two injuries occurred at one incident this would be recorded as one incident where one or more attacks occurred and where two personnel members were injured.

In 2013-14, 69 incidents were recorded where attacks occurred, a decrease of 12 incidents from the previous year. The number of personnel injured in attacks at incidents also decreased from four to two.

In the last four years the percentage of incidents where attacks have occurred has more than halved, reducing from 0.17 per cent in 2010-11 to 0.08 per cent in 2013-14 (from 172 attacks at 101,414 incidents in 2010-11 to 69 attacks at 84,846 incidents in 2013-14).

Attacks are categorised into one of five categories; Objects thrown at firefighters/appliances, Physical abuse, Verbal abuse, Harassment and Other acts of aggression. 'Objects thrown at fire fighters and/or appliances' has been the most common type of attack for the four years since reporting began. This type of attack accounted for more than half of the total incidents where attacks occurred in 2013-14 (38 of 69 incidents).

Chart 11 - Number of incidents where attacks occurred by type of attack, Scotland, 2013-14

Chart 11 - Number of incidents where attacks occurred by type of attack, Scotland, 2013-14


Contact

Email: Phillipa Haxton