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Fire and Rescue Statistics User Group

31st Meeting of the
Fire & Rescue Statistics User Group
held on
28th February 2011 1.30 pm in
Eland House, Victoria St, SW1


Ms Sheila Pantry

Fire Information Group

Ms Kirsty Bosley

Scottish Government

Mr Gavin Sayer

Communities and Local Government

Ms Sylvia Williams

Communities and Local Government

Mr Jon Gamble

Communities and Local Government

Mr John Curtis

Merseyside FRS

Mike Coull

Heritage Fire and Safety Limited

Steve Emery

English Heritage

1. Chair's Introduction

Kirsty Bosley kindly agreed to chair the meeting in absence of Simon Hunt (FRSUG members should be aware that Simon is on secondment to the Scottish Government based in Edinburgh) who is no longer able to attend FRSUG meetings due to other work commitments.

The FRSUG wished to place on record its gratitude and appreciation for all the hard work Simon has contributed to the FRSUG as outgoing chair.

2. Apologies

Mr Simon Hunt


Mr Paul Woods

Fire Protection Association

Ms Lindsay Bennison

Scottish Government

Ms Claire Davis

Welsh Assembly Government

Mr Dennis Davis


Mr Steve Emery

English Heritage

Mr Tony Paish

World Centre for Fire Statistics

Mt Rob Gazard

South East England Wild Fire Group

3. Minutes of the 30th Meeting

The minutes of the 30th Meeting were accepted with minor amendments as an accurate record of the meeting.

4. Matters Arising

Covered by agenda items.

5. Nomination of a Chair/Vice Chair

S Pantry nominated Kirsty Bosley to take over as acting FRSUG Chair and Dennis Davis as acting Vice Chair. The nominations were accepted by the meeting.

6. FRS representation on FRSUG

Kirsty Bosley welcomed John Curtis to the meeting. J Curtis agreed to consult other metropolitan FRS if they were happy for him to attend as their representative. He would also liaise with the FRS e-communication group. Gavin Sayer explained that DCLG wished to develop user engagement further by widening FRS involvement in the FRSUG to increase the exchange of information and raise awareness about fire data issues.

Action: Gavin Sayer agreed to make a start on a revised FRSUG Constitution and circulate before the next meeting

DCLG to invite CFOA family group chairs and

Jon to check that Dave Sibert is on invitation lists as FBU rep.

7. Fire Community Partnership

The meeting agreed to carry this item forward to the next meeting.

8. User Engagement

Gavin Sayer reported that DCLG Fire Statistics team will be carrying out a number of actions to ensure that user needs drive the development of its outputs and publications (as outlined in Gavin's email of 7 February). These are in addition to the engagement with FRSUG which plays an important role in this respect. A key action is that DCLG will be circulating a form at the time of its next Fire Statistics publication in June, inviting users to tell the Department which data they are interested in, what they use the data for, and if they would like to opt in to an alert service notifying with a link by email when data are published in the future.

(i) fire statistics publications content and format (this was evolving); (ii) transition from FDR1 collection to IRS - reviewing changes in data patterns; (iii) compiling an updated list for a Fire Statistics mailshot. The UK Statistics Authority are due to audit fire statistics with a review in Q1 2012.

Action: Gavin Sayer agreed to produce an item for the FRSUG website.

9. EU Fire Comparability Study

Greenstreet Berman were presenting a draft report on EU Fire Statistics Comparability to DCLG on Friday 4th March 2011. Their survey had been widely responded to. Around a dozen EU countries produce national fire statistics, with the UK producing the most comprehensive data collection. The study looks at how fires, fire fatalities and fire service casualties are reported on in different countries. The final report is expected to be published later in the year. The Scottish Government would also be interested in the outcome of the study. The UK Fire Safety Network would consider the issue of cohesion in a European-wide data collection. Twenty seven EU states plus Norway were involved.

10. Annual Returns Consultation (England)

The consultation had taken place between late November 2010 and mid January 2011. DCLG had received 41 responses - including from the FBU and CFOA. 34 of the 46 FRS in England responded. A clear message had come across that the scale and scope of the proposed reduction from around 80 to about 23 returns was very widely supported.

A summary of the consultation, which included a review of 'Fires of Special Interest' (FOSI) returns was due to be published in the next few weeks.

(Was published on 18 March:

It would include findings and a decision about future practice. DCLG was keen to reduce the burden of central Government data collection on FRS as part of the localism agenda. John Curtis noted that there could be implications in FRS software provision: it would be important for FRSs to keep software suppliers in the loop about planned changes. Gavin Sayer reported that the old website had been closed; it would be replaced with a simpler set of spreadsheet forms.

Main findings:

  • Strongly agreed to big reduction in returns (from 80 tables to 23)
  • 34 of the 46 English FRSs responded
  • Stop all reports of Fires of Special Interest except a rapid note of fire in Crown Premises
  • FRSs should still notify CFRAU for multiple serious injuries and other serious incidents but this would be a less formal procedure.
  • Keep headline data but reduce detail
  • CLG to publish a report of findings and detail by mid March
  • A revised data table specification to go out to English FRSs to collect from April 2011.
  • Data collected will be only what is clearly needed nationally. For example some FRSs want to include sickness rates, but DCLG did not wish to retain unless it could be shown that burden on all FRSs was justified

11. Publicity for FRSUG/FRSUG website

Sheila Pantry reported that the FRSUG website had been relaunched. Feedback from FRSUG members would be appreciated. If members could also contribute news items for the website, that would be helpful.

Action: Gavin Sayer agreed to provide an update list of relevant fire statistics sources and to also contribute a commentary on user engagement.

12. Developments relating to access to IRS record data

Gavin Sayer reported on the growing interest from FRS and other data users to have direct access to record data. He plans to develop a clean dataset of non-disclosive data such that it is available without a data sharing agreement. This would meet a lot more general needs, accepting that there will still be specific data requests that require individual attention.

The Fire Futures review and the Govt. transparency agenda both indicate that greater access to data was desirable. It would be important to achieve the balance between protecting confidentiality of fire victims and releasing data items that were most useful for analysis purposes. Kirsty Bosley reported that the Scottish IRS Users Group were keen to get access to the full records of their own data for analysis. The IRS web forms provided by DCLG have an XML export process that will export all fields of each record.

John Curtis explained that the E-Government Standards group were also looking at transparency issues.

Action: John Curtis referred to a Cabinet Office paper on data co-operation; he agreed to circulate to FRSUG.

13. Scottish review and future statistical collections

K Bosley reported that Lindsay Bennison had carried out a review of non-incident data. The objectives of the review were to:

  • Identify what data at present is being collected from Fire and Rescue Services by Scottish Government and other organisations - highlighting areas of duplication and possible streamlining
  • Establish what internal and external stakeholders considered to be areas of data collection that will assist their work
  • Provide a report of the results with a list of possible recommendations for improvement of the data collection that recognise the Scottish Government commitment to 'National Outcomes'. The recommendations will be discussed with Fire and Rescue Services to agree a final data collection.

The results of the consultation were published in February 2011 on

A consultation for the future of the Scottish FRS was underway via the Scottish Government website. Consultation document available on

14. Any Other Business

Indices of multiple deprivation were of specific interest in the fire stream. Sheila Pantry reported that the role of sprinkler systems was an area of interest in Wales.

Sylvia Williams reported on on-going work on providing the geographic location of heritage building fires for provision of specific incident data to English Heritage and Historic Scotland.

John Curtis reported on on-going work by the Local Government Improvement Development Agency (IDeA) on the earlier identification of more vulnerable people in fires.

Action: The meeting agreed to an update on the IDeA work as an agenda item for the next meeting - John Curtiss to see if we could get an expert to present it or could step in if necessary (to be confirmed).

15. Date of Next Meeting

Date of the next meeting: June 2011; Location - London