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Fire and Rescue Statistics User Group

10th Meeting
of the
Fire Statistics User Group
held on
Tuesday 3rd February 2004 at 10:30 am
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

Dr. C. McGill

Fire Statistics Research Branch, FSED, ODPM

Mr. D. Pearson


Mr. S. Emery

English Heritage

Prof. A. Everton

University of Central Lancashire

Mr. M. Rowan


Ms. S. Pantry

Fire Information Group

Mr. S. Kidd

Fire Industry Confederation

Mr M. Jones


Mr. I. Evans


Ms. C. Reynolds


Mr. A. McCormack

Secretary, FRD, ODPM

1 Chair's Introduction

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, especially new group members Prof. Rosemarie Everton and Dick Pearson, the new representative from the FBU.

2 Apologies

Dr. D. Peace


Mr A. Burd

Buildings Division, ODPM

Ms G. Ford

Fire Stats Research Branch

Mr. I Jerome


Mr. D. Hobbs

Buildings Division, ODPM

Mr M. Eady


Mr. B. Tucker

Fire Service College

3 Minutes of Previous Meeting

3.1 Sheila Pantry recommended a change to section 4.3.1 to more accurately reflect the effort put in by Judy Rebbeck, the (now redundant) Information Manager of BRE Fire and Risk Division. It should read:

Sheila Pantry reported to the group that Judy Rebbeck had located some of the BRE Fire information that was being stored in Glasgow that was scheduled for disposal. Together with the Information Staff at the Fire Service College Judy had managed to achieve a great deal of it. This was being put into the Fire Service College library.

She added that it was necessary to keep publicising the Fire Service College as the contact for information of this type so that the knowledge is not lost. She felt at present this isn't widely known. The Chair agreed and commended FIG on their success in preserving this collection.

4 Matters Arising from the Minutes.

4.1 Martin Jones of HMFSI gave a report on Fires of Special Interest. There has been a move to reform the way brigades inform the ODPM when a fire may be of particular interest. There will now be a “one stop shop” for all contactable events, with this being communicated to the fire service through a new DCOL. These include further investigation by the brigade, the police and reports for coroners as well as fires of special interest. The new system will allow the contract with BRE's Fire Research Station to investigate fires where building construction or design is a factor to continue, but probably will result in expanding this from the average 14 to around 25 investigations per year.

It is intended that incidents will be reviewed on the day the call is received, with a decision made on whether to send a representative of BRE or to rely on a brigade fire investigation. The incidents will be recorded on a database. The new system should allow for faster analysis of any trends in serious fires. [As an aside, it is possible to find fires that were the subject of further investigation by the fire service or police using the FDR1 returns].

HMI Jones also added that it was intended fire investigation training would continue to be given by the Fire Service College to keep the required skills current; there was some interest in looking at fire investigation at a regional level. In addition, the Arson Control Forum had provided protocols on cross-service investigations.

4.2. The Chair thanked HMI Jones for his report, and queried if the database or an abbreviated version of it which would preserve building owner anonymity, would be available to the general public or for others members of ODPM, so that information about fires of special interest could be shared easily.

4.2.1 Martin responded that he did not know as yet what the access to the fires database would be, so did not know if it would be full public access or not.

5. Report from the Chair on All Party Fire Safety Group Meeting and the Statistics User Council Meeting

The Chair reported briefly on a Seminar held by the Fire Safety Development Group and sponsored by the All Party Fire Safety Parliamentary Group which covered the proposed fire safety reforms. He said that he had spoken at the event on the need for accurate statistics in the fire world and the creation of fire safety targets for fire authorities to work towards. He also noted that in England and Wales, the performance monitoring of the Fire Service is being transferred from Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate to the Audit Commission.

The FRSUG is now part of the Statistics User Council which coordinates the activities of a range of groups (including the Transport Statistics User Group) and has links with ONS, the Royal Statistical Society and the Statistics Commission. Part of their brief is to look at the Alsopp Review, which outlines the Treasury's approach to the use and collection of statistics.

6. Future of the Cost of Fire Sub Group.

The future of the Cost of Fire Sub Group was currently under examination - with some suggestions that it should merge with the Fire and Rescue Statistics User Group. This was directly related to point d. The Chair pointed out that when this proposal had been suggested at the last meeting of the Sub Group it had been rejected by the members present. It was also the opinion of the FRSUG members that while the groups were complimentary and their work overlapped in some areas, the two should not merge unless there was no alternative way of keeping the Cost of Fire Sub Group viable.

If the two groups were to merge then the Cost of Fire Sub Group should become a sub committee of the FRSUG with its own Chair who sat upon the FRSUG in their own right. In that event a new Chair for the Cost of Fire Sub Group would be needed.

Action: The membership of the Cost of Fire Sub Group to be circulated to the Group with a view to identifying a new Chair for this Group.

7. Roll Out of Fire Service Emergency Cover Project

7.1 Cath Reynolds updated the group on the progress of the FSEC project, which has now reached the stage of being rolled out to brigades in Great Britain. This provides risk identification software, training, and support to fire service's and allows them (if they wish) to use the software to analyse risk within their brigade areas. The risk to property, life and heritage are all considered by the software, and it uses three years of data on fires and special service incidents.

7.2 Steve Emery asked if this data would be able to mesh with English Heritage's project on providing data on heritage risk buildings to all brigades. It was agreed this would be a very desirable outcome, and Steve Emery has provided the necessary contact information.

8. Future Work for the Fire and Rescue Statistics User Group

The members of the Fire and Rescue Statistics User Group were asked to suggest information not being collected (outside the scope of the FDR1) which would prove useful in measuring the effects of fire. Suggestions on using the information more effectively or suggestions on how to get additional data were also encouraged.

The main ideas submitted at the meeting or shortly after were:

  1. using the group's website to pull data together, and using it to map where on the internet additional data is available,
  2. a record of when fire extinguishers have been used to put out fires in buildings, to back up the requirement for their provision,
  3. seminars on aspects of Fire Statistics,
  4. a continuing reliable estimate of the annual cost of fire within the UK,
  5. a complete list of the information gathered by government, local authorities and brigades (building on the previous work on this subject by Ian Jerome and his team) including government targets for fire deaths, best value indicators,
  6. relating to the above, identifying the useful information which is not collected at present, and identifying how these knowledge gaps could be filled,
  7. measuring and reducing the fire risk to heritage.

It was agreed that a working party would be set up to address point's e and f. Martin Jones, Mitchell Rowan and Aidan McCormack volunteered to form this group.

Action: FRSUG Secretary to arrange for the Working Party to meet and to investigate what data is currently collected.

9. Any Other Business

9.1 Report on the Update of FDR1 Data Collection

David Champion provided the group with an update of the FDR1 and FDR3 data collection. It had been agreed to merge the forms so that data was collected on all incidents, including special services and false alarms, using electronic data collection to reduce the work required to fill in the form. A data definition group has been set up to decide what information will be collected for each incident type, and the draft report containing this is going on the ODPM's website.

A question was raised at the meeting relating to the large fire in Edinburgh which damaged many buildings of historic value, and whether this was one fire in the FDR1 returns. After the meeting David Champion was able to confirm that while several buildings were affected, it is listed as one fire (spreading beyond building of origin) rather than listing each damaged building separately. The fire was reference number 84*02466*02 on the 7/12/02 causing one fire brigade non-fatal casualty. It spread to 6 rooms on same floor as origin, 7 floors of the building of origin (a public house) and 13 other buildings and two vehicles beyond the property of origin.

9.2 FRSUG Website.

The Chair asked David Champion what had happened regarding the FRSUG Website which Sheila Pantry had developed for the Group. David Champion said he was waiting to discuss the issue with a colleague from the ODPM Press and Public Relations Department who was on holiday and therefore he was still waiting too speak to them. The Chair said that he hoped that there would be more information forthcoming at the next meeting which would serve to resolve the issue.

Action David Champion

9.3 Review of Approved Document (B)

There was a review of Approved Document (B) of the Building Regulations planned by Buildings Division. All of the group were encouraged to put forward any suggestions they would like considered.

9.4 30th Birthday of the British Automatic Sprinkler Association.

Stewart Kidd was pleased was able to announce the 30th Birthday of the British Automatic Sprinkler Association later this year (November). He had arranged for some BASA funded research work to take place including some work on sprinkler life expectancy (in conjunction with John Lewis partnership) and a study of the risks of Legionella in sprinkler systems. He would welcome suggestions for other research.

10. Date of Next Meeting.

The next meeting of the Fire Statistics User Group will take place in Eland House (6th floor Meeting Room) on Wednesday May 5that 10:30am