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Fire and Rescue Statistics User Group

8th Meeting
of the
Fire Statistics User Group
held on
Tuesday 31st July 2003
Eland House

Present :

Mr. G. Evans

Chair, FBU

Mr. T. Wilmot

World Fire Statistics Centre

Mr. A. Paish

World Fire Statistics Centre

Mr. D. Champion

Fire Statistics Research Branch, FSED, ODPM

Ms G. Ford

Fire Statistics Research Branch, FSED, ODPM

Mr. S. Emery

English Heritage

Mr. S. Kidd

Fire Industry Confederation

Mr. M. Eady


Mr. M. Rowan


Ms. S. Pantry

Fire Information Group

Mr. I. Jerome

Fire Protection Association

Mr. A. McCormack

Secretary, FRD, ODPM

1 Chair's Introduction

1.1 The chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, especially David Champion, who is the new head of the Fire Statistics and Research Branch and Mitchell Rowan who is the new representative of LFEPA. The group was delighted to hear that Lorraine Watson (formerly head of the Fire Statistics and Research Branch) had a baby girl and that both mother and baby are well.

1.2 Stuart Deaton, also from the Fire Statistics and Research Branch, will be leaving ODPM to work in the Home Office (analysing drug rehabilitation) and would therefore be leaving the group. The chair noted his work as part of the group and wished him well in his new post.

2 Apologies

Dr. D. Peace


Mr. D. Hobbs


Mr A. Burd


Mr. S. Deaton

Fire Stats. Research Branch

Ms. L. Watson

Fire Stats. Research Branch

Ms. H. Jones

Fire Stats. Research Branch

Mr. G. Lipscombe


Ms. C. Reynolds


Mr. B. Tregunna


Mr. S. Birt


Mr. B. Tucker

Fire Service College

Mr. I. Evans


Mr. A. Henderson

Scottish Executive

Mr. M. Fordham


3 Minutes of Previous Meeting

The following changes were agreed.

3.1 In paragraph 4.2 the first sentence should read "The data on French industrial accidents has been provided by Mr. Jerome ..."

3.2 Mr. Kidd's comments on the Severity of Injury Scoping Study should be labelled paragraph 5.5.2 not 5.5 as at present.

3.3 In paragraph 8.1, the first sentence should read : "The Chair reported he had been approached by Mr. J. D. Mason of AIRMIC which was an association of risk managers in industry and commerce regarding the provision by the Group of statistics relating to fires in food factory premises over a 10 year cycle from 1992 to 2002."

4 Matters Arising from the Minutes.

4.1 The Chair reported that the paper from the group about Fires of Special Interest had been presented to the FSAB. This was written by Martin Jones of HMFSI. The Chair thanked Martin for the report, and T/HMI Eady for his contribution to this work.

4.1.1 The Report raised several questions about the triggers for reporting a fire of special interest (as outlined in Dear Chief Fire Officer letter 5/1994) and whether this mechanism linked into other data sources such as the Realfire database run by LFEPA.

4.1.2 The Chair summed up this debate by asking what information is collected on fires of special interest, who was such information sent to, was it archived and was it available to the wider community. He pointed out that a key part of the Terms of Reference for the Fire Statistics User Group is that it identifies areas of information and statistic collection and dissemination where improvements could be made. This is to ensure relevant statistical fire information is available to guide the decision making process and this may very well be an opportunity to do so.

4.1.3 T/HMI Eady confirmed that the Fires of Special Interest (FoSI) and the LFEPA Realfire database were separate issues (although fires in the London area could fall into both). At present, the purpose of FoSI was to inform HMCIFS and the Minister of details of fires that fall into this category subject to any questions being raised internally and/or externally. If any operational or fire safety issues needed to be considered from the output of any investigation, then such issues may be forwarded to Fire Brigades through one of the communication avenues available. Results of these investigations were communicated to Building Regulations Division when the fire severity was related to building design. He agreed to investigate if FoSI were maintained on a database within the Inspectorate and what numbers were involved if that was the case. In discussion it was pointed out that data collection would only be considered if the data could be utilised effectively by ODPM and the Fire Service and if this data is not currently available.

Action: T/HMI Eady to identify if a database of FoSI is maintained and determine if the reports can be made public.

4.2 Georgina Ford gave the group a progress report on the project to update the collection of fire statistics (using the FDR1). She informed the group that the preliminary questionnaire results had been collected, and would be used to inform the contractor chosen to run the update project. This was shortly going out to tender, and part of the process would be a wider consultation of stakeholders.

4.3 She also updated the group on the Injury Scoping study. At present this was not being taken forward, as no brigade could be found to adopt it at the moment.

4.4 Finally, she reported that they had dealt with the request from AIRMIC reported in the previous meeting, and had been able to supply most of the data requested, but not all of it. However, AIRMIC were content with what they had received. The Chair thanked her for dealing with the matter.

5 Future of the Fire Statistics User Group

5.1 The Chair reminded the Group that he was part of a delegation from the Fire Safety Advisory Board who were told by the author of the current Fire White Paper that the Fire Safety Advisory Board (FSAB) would most likely be retained (see paragraph 1.2 of the Minutes of the 7th Meeting).

5.2 This has however, not entirely proven be the case, with the FSAB being replaced by two bodies - the Practitioners' Forum and the Business and Community Safety Forum in the White Paper. The aim is that these bodies should not overlap and their membership would be mutually exclusive.

This would clearly affect the Fire Statistics User Group (and several others) although the Group is constituted as a separate body under the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council (CFBAC) and not directly through the FSAB. It is proposed in the White Paper that the CFBAC is also to be wound up but this requires legislation to do so. The current and proposed structures of the advisory groups are included in appendix A.

The full text of the White Paper is available on line at:

5.3 The Chair had been in correspondence with Diana Kahn of the Fire Policy Division, ODPM over the future of the Group (please see appendix B for a copy of her reply) to clarify whether the Fire Statistics User Group would continue under the new advisory structure. She had suggested David Champion (the new head of the Fire Statistics and Research Branch, now part of the Fire Service Effectiveness Division) should investigate the matter.

5.4 The Chair then invited David Champion to speak to the Group regarding his proposals. David Champion put forward a draft set of proposals that included proposed terms of reference for a Fire and Rescue Statistics User Group. He felt a possible home for the group would be under the banner of the National Statistics User Groups, where he had experience of the transport and housing groups. More details about the National Statistics user group can be found at:

The Groups do vary in terms of funding (some but not all have membership fees) and terms of reference and are fairly autonomous. A draft set of terms of reference and the current terms of reference for the Group are attached as appendix C. It could also provide a home for a Group website where databases and other information would be readily available.

5.4.1 The Chair said that he had never felt that the Group was precluded from exploring statistics related to special services matters. He wanted to ensure that the Fire Statistics User Group would continue to be comprised of fire service and business and community members, which he felt was one of the Group's main strengths. He wanted to know how the Group would retain a formal place within the proposed structure that was to replace both the FSAB and the CFBAC and where this would be.

5.4.2 Mick Eady felt that neither the structure, nor the group's place within it, were very clear as yet. David Champion felt that the Group would report to the Practitioner's Forum, but this would become clearer when the structures outlined in the White Paper were more defined.

5.4.3. Stewart Kidd queried whether the group should look at synergies or even mergers with other groups, such as the Cost of Fire Group. He also asked if there was any reason why groups could not contain members from both the practitioner and business arms of the fire community, or would these forums be able to set up joint working groups. The latter would preserve the structure of groups like the Fire Statistics User Group.

5.4.4 Sheila Pantry offered to develop a mock-up of a proposed Fire Statistics User Group website for the next meeting. This offer was gratefully accepted by the Chair.

Action: Sheila Pantry to develop a proposed website for the next meeting.

5.4.5 Tony Paish raised two points. He was firstly worried that a move to include special services data in the group would limit the group to official statistics, whereas currently the group considered other sources of information. Secondly, the function of the World Fire Statistics Centre is to reduce the costs of fire, which needed data collection, but more importantly a way of publicising this information and influencing legislation. He was therefore sad to see the demise of the Fire Safety Advisory Board, and was worried the Fire Statistics User Group may not be able to fulfil this role as effectively in the new structures outlined in the White Paper.

5.4.6 The Chair agreed that this wide remit to look at all sources of information (not just official statistics) was one of the Group's main strengths. David Champion felt there was no need to be limited to official statistics in the proposed group.

5.4.7 Stewart Kidd wondered if being part of a group of statistics bodies would make it easier to get useful statistics from other similar bodies, and this wider reach might prove useful.

5.5 After further discussion, the Chair summed up on David Champion's proposals. He said that he had, and he sensed that other Group members also had, a number of reservations about the proposals which needed to be explored. He felt that the proposed Terms of Reference were certainly not as wide as those originally agreed by the ODPM for the Group, however being brought under the umbrella of the National Statistics User Group might prove beneficial both to the long term viability and in retaining the independence of the Group. He said that he also believed that unless the Group retained its access to all the main advisory bodies under the new structure, the work of the Group would be badly affected and decision making by others impaired.

Action: The Chair and David Champion to meet and agree a draft proposal for the Fire Statistics Group to be presented at the next meeting

6 Fire Statistics User Group Report to the Fire Safety Advisory Board

6.1 A small error was noted in the Report for which the Chair apologised, but no other queries were raised. The Group then endorsed the Report. It was noted that the next meeting of the Fire Safety Advisory Board is in September and a call for papers for that meeting has already been issued with a cut off date of the 27th August 2003.

6.2 The Report on Fire Inspection statistics compiled by the Group Secretary will be submitted to the September FSAB meeting. A general discussion on the Report then took place.

6.2.1 Tony Paish asked whether premises had been inspected shortly before a fire was recorded (and would any failings in the fire precautions highlighted by the inspection be known). Steve Emery replied that the information might be known and recorded at brigade level, but that there was not a link in place beyond that. It is not recorded as part of the formal data collection on fire statistics that was until recently undertaken by HMFSI and the Scottish Executive and used in the Report.

Additionally, Tony Paish asked if a building had suffered several minor fires, was this recorded and used to inform the need for enforcement or advisory fire inspections?

6.2.2 Tony Paish also pointed out there was no link in these statistics to identify whether enforcement notices in one year resulted in prosecutions in later years. Steve Emery replied that this information would be available at brigade level if required.

6.2.3 The Chair also remarked on the low number of prosecutions undertaken compared to the number of improvement notices issued, he hoped this meant that the threat of enforcement action by the fire authority was normally enough to secure improvements to the fire safety measures.

Action: The Chair and Secretary to draft a covering letter for the Report before submission. This note should include mention of the change in responsibility of data collection taking place as part of the Bain review.

7 Report of the Meeting of the Fire Safety Advisory Board

7.1 The Report on Fires of Special Interest had already been covered. This was presented at the meeting.

7.2 In addition, Sheila Pantry's report on the loss of sources of fire information was discussed at FSAB. The FSAB felt that the best solution was for the Fire Information Group to liaise directly with the Fire Service College to create an archive facility there.

7.2.1 Sheila felt that while this addressed part of the problem, the other task was to ensure that this solution was well-publicised, so that data was not lost solely through ignorance of its value and an alternative site existing.

Action: Sheila Pantry undertook to publicise the need to preserve fire information in the specialist press and through the Fire Information Group and to point to the Fire Service College as the focal point for data collection.

8 Any Other Business

8.1 Ian Jerome raised an issue relating to EC legislation on hotel fire safety. The minimum safety requirements are being revised and the consultation period is now underway. The final date for submissions is October 17th. He wished to check that relevant members of the Group were aware of this.

8.1.1 Mick Eady confirmed Geoff Bowles (HMFSI) was looking at this, having been involved in the original exercise, on behalf of ODPM.

8.1.2 Stewart Kidd agreed that lack of publicity was a problem, but each EU member state had an expert in this field who would meet after the consultation period to draft the legislation. The original report on which the draft legislation is based is on the EC website. The issue was also being raised at the European Sub-Group of the FSAB.

8.2 Stewart Kidd provided details on Cost C-17, a European initiative to protect heritage against fire loss. It aims to collect information on fires causing or threatening to cause damage to historic buildings and to increase awareness of appropriate fire safety countermeasures. It covers the current and soon to be members of the EU and Switzerland. The two UK delegates are Ingval Maxwell of Historic Scotland and Stewart Kidd, and others will be invited to join the four working groups being set up which are to meet in Edinburgh on September 4th and 5th.

As a result of this initiative, a database has been set up which will be available at

It is intended that participants and others will be able to enter fire data relating to heritage sites onto the website and so provide a central source of information for all interested parties in Europe and beyond. Fuller details are available from Stewart Kidd, or the Fire Statistics User Group Secretary.

8.3 The Fire Service College Research Event will take place on the 19th and 20th of November at the college. More details on the agenda will be available at the next meeting.

9. Date of Next Meeting.

9.1 The next meeting of the Fire Statistics User Group will take place at Eland House on Wednesday 29th October at 10:30 am.

Appendix A Current Structure

Current Structure

Proposed Structure in White paper

Proposed Structure

Appendix B Letter to Chair from Diana Khan

Ms D S Kahn
Fire Health and Safety Directorate
Zone A/17, Portland House
Stag Place

Direct line: 020 7944 5530
Fax: 020 7944 5576
GTN: 3533 5530
Web site:

29 July 2003

Dear Glyn


I am writing to you as Chair of the Fire Statistics User Group in response to your email of 2 July to Pamela Castle about the future of the group. I promised Pamela that I would write to you as soon as I was in a position to do so. I can now enclose the letters that I have recently written to all members of the CFBAC and to the Chair of the Fire Safety Advisory Board.

You will see that we will be considering with the Chairs of the Boards how best to manage the wind-up of the boards and an orderly transfer of ongoing work to new bodies.

As regards the Statistics User Group, David Champion, the new head of the Fire Statistics team in ODPM, will be the primary professional contact in these discussions. He will wish to ensure that the arrangements provide ODPM with appropriate advice on the views of users of the statistics we produce in future. No doubt he will wish to float some of his ideas at the group meeting on Thursday before taking forward his discussions with Pamela Castle.

I am sending a copy of this letter to Pamela and to David Champion.

Yours sincerely,

Ms D S Kahn

Appendix C

Draft Proposals from David Champion


Proposed Terms of Reference for the Fire And Rescue Statistics Users Group


  • Improving the collection, dissemination, use and understanding of Fire and Rescue (FR) statistics.
  • Discussing issues relating to the provision, coverage, quality and use of FR statistics with data providers.
  • To promote the use of FR statistics to inform policy and practice.
  • Improving users' access to FR statistics and conveying users' needs to data providers.
  • Keeping users informed of new developments in FR statistics.
  • Providing a consultation forum and promoting the exchange of views and information.
  • To advise on new data requirements following the Fire and Rescue Service White Paper

Current Terms of Reference of the Fire Statistics User Group

1. To develop a fire information strategy which would:-

  • identify and monitor existing sources of fire data
  • encourage collaboration and data sharing between users and producers of fire data
  • identify and prioritise any shortfalls in existing data provision

and make recommendations accordingly.

2. To prioritise and implement recommendations arising from the agreed Fire Information Strategy as directed.

3. Provide advice and a core reference point in respect of the review of the fire statistical returns database.

4. Support policy-making bodies in their use of fire statistics.

5. Provide advice to government on the fire community's statistical needs through the Fire Risk Management Working Group, the Arson Control Forum and the Fire Safety Advisory Board.