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Fire and Rescue Statistics User Group

19th Meeting
of the
Fire & Rescue Statistics User Group
held on
Wednesday 7 June 2006 at 10:30 am
Eland House, London.


Mr. G. Evans

Chair, FBU

Mr. A. Paish

World Fire Statistics Centre

Mr. S. Emery

English Heritage

Ms. S. Pantry

Fire Information Group

Mr. G. Gower-Kerslake

Buildings Division, DCLG

Mr. I. Evans

Fire Control, DCLG

Mr. M. Rowan


Mr. S. Kidd


Mr. N. Bason


Mr. D. Pearson


Prof. A. Everton

University of Central Lancashire

Mr. M. Robinson


Mr. T Wilmot

World Fire Statistics Centre

Ms. S. Wright, Secretary

Fire Statistics and Research Division, DCLG






Samantha to send round the latest FRD organogram, for information.



Stewart Kidd to contact CILA for comment.



Glyn Evans to write to Cath regarding destroyed/lost fire data.



Samantha to add the three recommendations to these minutes.



The Group to consider these recommendations and suggest ways to carry them forward at the next FRSUG meeting.



Dick Pearson to write to the IRMP Steering Group about Prof. Stevens' presentation and to consider looking at the three recommendations as part of the work-streams to develop IRMPs



Samantha to suggest contact(s) for Tony Paish to approach regarding outstanding points on the UK return for WFS, if possible.



Glyn to write to Cath regarding

  1. who currently writes the Cost of Fire report and
  2. Group concerns over timetable for the introduction of the IRS system



Samantha to pursue situation regarding the Group website with Aidan



Stewart Kidd to forward historic building fires in Scotland information to Samantha for circulation


1 Chair's Introduction

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced Samantha Wright as the new Secretary to the Group. He thanked Nick Bason, who is leaving the ABI, for his contributions to the FRSUG and wished him well for the future and every success in his new post.

2 Apologies:

Mr. D. Champion

Fire Statistics and Research Division, DCLG

Mr. M. Coull

Historic Scotland

3 Minutes of the 18th Meeting


3.1 Minute 4.1 - Amend wording to read 'Stewart Kidd referred to the point raised at the last meeting...'.

3.2 Minute 12.1 - The Minutes suggested that a Directorate Organogram was to be circulated to the Group. Since then ODPM has become DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) and has been reorganised therefore sending out the old ODPM organogram would not contain up to date information. Samantha will send round the latest FRD organogram, for information.

3.3 Minute 13.2 - Add the arrival of Samantha Wright as the new Secretary to the Group.

ACTION - Samantha to send round the latest FRD organogram, for information.

3.4 Stewart Kidd raised a point on fire data that has been destroyed or lost by FRS's. He expressed concern that this valuable information is not catalogued and archived. It was suggested that a letter from the Chair to the Minister on the issue, with agreement from the FRSUG, may prompt something to be done. It was felt that something needs to be done for companies, for example ABI, to be able to learn from past information. Stewart also suggested that CILA (Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters) to write to Glyn. These comments could then be incorporated in the letter to the Minister. Glyn agreed that it was an issue that needed to be dealt with but he recommended that he write to Cath Reynolds as Head of the Fire Statistics and Research Division in the first instance to follow correct protocol.

ACTION - Stewart to contact CILA for comment.

ACTION - Glyn to write to Cath regarding the above points on destroyed/lost fire data.

3.4.1 Geoffrey Gower-Kerslake supported this cause agreeing that Policy decisions or regulatory reform need to be evidence based, but suggested that there may be constraints on what Cath or Alun Evans could do and sometimes these courses of action become stuck and do not reach the appropriate people for resolution. He stressed that FRSUG are an independent Group who, when required to take action such as this, can go directly to a Minister. Glyn fully agreed that this was so; however in this instance he felt it right and proper to involve Cath first.

3.4.2 Stewart suggested that there may be an issue of cost in stopping FRS's retaining and archiving their data. It is unlikely that either the Centre of Excellence or FRSs will have the budget to be able store the data.

4 Matters Arising from the Minutes

4.1 Tony Paish had sent an email to Glyn suggesting that the three recommendations to come out of Proff. Stevens' presentation at the last FRSUG meeting should be discussed and carried forward by this Group.

ACTION - Samantha to add the three recommendations to these Minutes

ACTION - The Group to consider these recommendations and suggest ways to carry them forward at the next FRSUG meeting

4.1.2 The three concluding recommendations are as follows:

  • More work should be undertaken better to understand the combined benefits of using active (smoke alarm) and passive (fire protected consumer products) fire counter- measures.
  • More work should be undertaken into the links between (i) socio-economic factors, (ii) fire risks, and (iii) the potential contribution of active and passive fire protection methods to reducing those risks.
  • The European Commission should set up a mechanism for the collection and publication of reliable fire statistics by member states on a common basis, and Eurostat should be responsible for the annual publication of the resulting data.

4.2 Glyn said that with regard to the final recommendation that there was a European Fire Safety Forum made up of government representatives drawn from some of the EU Member States. He said that the original representative from the ODPM had been Diana Kahn who had now left the ODPM and he wasn't sure who had replaced her. It was thought to be Teresa Clay as Acting Divisional Manager of Fire Legislation, Safety & People Glyn suggested that it might be politic to invite Teresa to the next meeting of the Group to give an update on what had become of the EFSF and on the European Statistical database. (David Champion has since informed me that this is now probably Mike Reed, who used to be involved in FRSUG and Cost of Fire sub group. Could we invite him to the next meeting?)

4.3 Dick Pearson said that DCLG had re-established the IRMP Steering Group at the end of 2005 and agreed high priority work in developing IRMPs and standards. They had established research work that was required and what needed to be done to develop IRMPs. The three recommendations seem to sit within the remit of this Group. Dick recommended that the Steering Group could consider looking at the three recommendations and including them as part of the workstreams created to develop IRMPs.

ACTION - Dick Pearson to write to the IRMP Steering Group about Proff. Stevens' presentation and to consider looking at the three recommendations as part of the workstreams to develop IRMPs

4.4 Minute 5.3.2 - Although the response times are falling there are still many deaths as people are storing large quantities of, for example. DVDs or videos, in one location. Steve Emery stated that people are dying even though smoke detectors have gone off although not in the room of origin.

4.5 Minute 7.2 - Dick Pearson had spoken with Kirsty Bosley and they concluded that the IRMP Steering Group would deal with the issue. Matter still ongoing.

4.6 Minute 11.3 - Stewart Kidd asked if there was any update on the Cost of Fire Sub-Group. Glyn said that a Parliamentary Question had been sent and Jim Fitzpatrick responded saying that the Cost of Fire Group was an ad-hoc group and would be reconstituted as felt necessary.

Glyn stated that if the Cost of Fire publications were to be contracted out they need to know what information is required for it to make it useful to people. This will not be the case if they do not know what we want.

4.7 Lyndsey Avery was the spokesperson for this area of work at the FRSUG meetings, but has now moved departments on promotion. Glyn, on behalf of the FRSUG, wished her well in her new job and thanked her for her contributions to the FRSUG meetings.

4.8 Tony Paish mentioned an email that was sent to Samantha for hopeful resolution concerning the UK return for the WFS that Daniel Marks and Lyndsey were working on. As neither work for DCLG any longer he asked if Samantha could provide a contact or the right direction for resolution of outstanding points.

ACTION - Samantha to suggest contact(s) for Tony Paish to approach regarding outstanding points on the UK return for WFS, if possible.

4.9 It was asked who currently wrote the Cost of Fire report. Glyn did not know but will find out from Cath Reynolds. It was agreed that whoever writes the report, whether an external contractor or not needs to approach the FRSUG for comment before publication.

ACTION - Glyn to ask Cath who currently writes the Cost of Fire report.

5 Update on the re-organisation of ODPM, now DCLG

5.1 ODPM became Dept for Communities and Local Gvt (DCLG) on 5 May under the Ministerial leadership of Ruth Kelly MP.

5.2 The Secretary of State, Ministerial Team and DCLG Board are currently looking at the vision of DCLG future and leading the process change. Peter Housden, the Permanent Secretary has created a discussion document and is seeking views from staff and Stakeholders on how they think the Dept should look.

5.3 A timetable for change has been drawn up and would be announced in due course.

5.4 The new Fire Minister is Angela Smith, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State. She launched a campaign on 16th May to increase awareness of firefighting as a potential career choice for women in a link with the department's work on Women and Equalities.

5.5 It is not thought that this reorganisation will affect the FRSUG in any way. The Group still reports to Ministers via the Fire and Resilience Directorate (FRD) headed by Alun Evans, in DCLG. (Since the meeting Alun Evans has moved into another area of work and has been temporarily replaced by John McCarthy working under Neil Kinghan).

5.6 Further detailed information, bulletins, quarterly monitors and archives can be found on the new DCLG website -

5.7 Please note that DCLG staff's email addresses are being changed too and should be in the format ''

6 Report of Progress with the new fire Incident Recording System (IRS)

David Champion could not be present at this meeting, so an update was given by Samantha Wright, Secretary as a member of SSRB staff.

6.1 Progress since March 2006:

Pilot FRSs have been identified, 11 have agreed to pilot the IRS, some using the on-line form option, the others XML schema. Selected Pilot FRSs are as follows:

  • Cambridgeshire
  • Cheshire
  • Dorset
  • Greater Manchester
  • Hampshire
  • Merseyside
  • Northumberland
  • South Wales
  • Warwickshire
  • West Midlands
  • West Yorkshire

6.2 Informed Solutions (contractors) have been working on designing the on-line form and are currently testing usability of the form with some of the pilot FRSs. Development work on both the on-line form and XML interface will continue throughout the summer. The pilot is scheduled to start at the end of October and run for 8 weeks. Once the results of the pilot have been assessed, it is envisaged that the IRS will be ready for use in May 2007. However, following a phased roll out, it is unlikely that all FRSs will be using it until June 2008.

6.3 The expertise of staff at Garston will not be lost. They will continue processing FDR1s as long as FRSs continue to use them. In addition, they will be staffing the IRS helpdesk which will be based in Garston. They are also closely involved in other areas of the project, notably devising technical guidance for IRS users, planning the communication strategy and advising on the content of the IRS training package.

6.4 An FRS Circular will be issued in the next few days setting out the IRS timetable and addressing FRS queries about the project. This will also be available on the DCLG web site. Future updates on IRS will be available through the FRSOnline web site:

6.5 Members expressed concerns that the fire and rescue services would not all access the new system at the same time and the effect that this would have upon collection of incident related statistics during the period before all of them were using the system. It was agreed that it would be far better even if it delayed the start time that all the fire and rescue services should go on line simultaneously. The Group agreed that Glyn to write to Cath about this.

ACTION - Glyn to write to Cath regarding FRSUG members concerns over this issue.

7 HM Treasury - Independence for Statistics - A Consultation Document

7.1 Glyn said that despite sending out a gentle reminder to members of the Group he had only received one comment from the World Fire Statistics Centre upon the consultation document. This would form the basis for a response from the Group. He said however the whilst it was clear that HM Treasury wanted an independent body to oversee government statistics which was to be welcomed there was a need to ensure that the funding for such a body was also independent of any specific Minister or government department. He sought the Group's approval to state that in the Group response. This was agreed.

8 Group Website

8.1 The Secretary reported that the website was progressing very slowly. She had been in contact with Aidan McCormack, the previous FRSUG Secretary, to get an update on how it was going.

8.1.1 He has updated the website and will send the Secretary a copy. It has been updated with newer meetings and a start of the database of sites with fire and rescue statistics information to look at. He will send it on for comment, addition and hopefully for people to use.

8.1.2 He has asked CFOA and Statistics User Forum if they would host the website and in principle they say they have no problem with hosting. He will send on details later this week.

8.1.3 He also suggested that now it is up and running it may be worth asking E-fire if they would host it (as a precedent DfT hosts the Transport Statistics User Group). It is felt that this would be the best solution.

8.2 Glyn said that he was concerned that the plan for creating a Group website was taking so long to implement and that it needed to be resolved soon. A discussion then occurred over the maintenance and updating of the website by the Group. Glyn suggested that there should be a small group created to oversee the website and he asked members to consider this and who would be prepared to do so.

ACTION - Samantha to pursue this matter with Aidan


9.1 Tony Paish spoke about research that has been carried out with the World Health Organisation exploring differences in fire deaths from annual causes of death surveys compiled by various country's FRS's. In developed countries such as UK, USA, and Canada the data is approximately 25% lower than those provided by FRS statistics, partly because the definitions used exclude accidental fire deaths. They also exclude transport accidents as these are not broken down by cause or not available. If non-accidental fire deaths i.e. under investigation for homicide or suicide were included, now being collected by WHO from many countries, it may account for the differences. In due course we should have a better idea of total fire deaths from death certificates matched against those provided by FRS's.

9.2 Steve Emery asked if any dates had been arranged for the Virtual Fire Academy. None arranged as yet.

9.3 Stewart Kidd mentioned a conference that was held in Slovenia with the Costs C17 Group. They presented a paper on heritage fire statistics identifying problems with data from 15 countries. At first quality data was being received but at the expense of quantity, but now more data is coming through. Spain alone has had 15 incidents, one of which an 800 year old house was destroyed. In the same province at the beginning of the century there 800 buildings such as this, but now only 100 and no one knew. Similar situations as this have occurred in Italy and Poland.

Mike Coull has persuaded three of the six Scottish FRS's to isolate and identify all historic building fires for last year. Hopefully next year all six will be involved as Scottish Government are interested in what is happening to their heritage.

ACTION - Stewart Kidd to forward to Samantha for circulation

10 Date and place of Next Meeting

Tuesday 26 September 2006, 10.30 am - 1.00 pm, Eland House, Room LMR3ABC