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Fire and Rescue Statistics User Group

42nd Meeting of the
Fire & Rescue Statistics User Group
30th March 2015, 11.00 – 3:00 pm
London Fire Brigade HQ,
169 Union Street, London SE1 0LL

1. List of attendees

Adedayo Akinfolajimi

FRSUG Secretary

Department for Communities and Local Government

Andrew Mobbs

London FBU HQ

Apollo Gerolymbus

London FBU HQ

Brian Martin

Department for Communities and Local Government

Bob Cherry

Kent & Medway FRS

Claire Smith

Department for Communities and Local Government

Catherine Barham

Department for Communities and Local Government

David Sibert


David Wales

South East Fire Investigation Group

David Wyatt

London FBU HQ

Dennis Davis

FRSUG Vice Chair

Fire Sector Federation

Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell


Kirsty Bosley


Scottish Government – Fire research and statistics

Lewis Ahlquist

Department for Communities and Local Government

Martin Duggan


Nazneen Chowdhury

Department for Communities and Local Government

Rafal Pisula

Department for Communities and Local Government

Rob Gazzard

South Eastern Wildfire Information Group

Shantha Dickinson

Hampshire FRS

Sheila Pantry

Fire Information Group

Simon Flood

Avon FRS

Steve Seaber


Stewart Ross

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

2. Chair’s Introduction

Kirsty welcomed members and thanked LFB for hosting the meeting in their HQ once again.

She reminded members that minutes of the meetings are published on the FRSUG website, and now that as there is little time to review the minutes at the meetings, it is in members’ interests to review them before the meeting so that amendments can be included prior to publication.

3. Apologies

Neil Gibbins, Heidi Jones, Dave Berry

4. Constitution – how to make FRSUG more resilient and useful

This item covers the purpose and aims of FRSUG – how we make FRSUG more resilient, what do people want out of the meetings and how we achieve that.

In discussion members felt that the purpose of FRSUG includes:

  • knowledge exchange – people are more informed and know who to talk to on a particular topic. This is true of statistics and research.
  • understanding the uses made of data – particularly useful to provide evidence for its value and continued funding.
  • Allows a platform for all data users to be engaged in the IRS review – using FRSUG as a sounding board.
  • UK Statistics Authority needs evidence of the kind of engagement between data providers and users that FRSUG provides.
  • Provides space to discuss politicised issues in a professional environment. FRSUG engagement has enabled funding bids to be demonstrate support from the fire sector.
  • In previous meetings we had considered using FRSUG as a peer review forum, which was not implemented but could be explored further. We could start this informally by emailing FRSUG members if we are looking for peer review opinions.
  • Two things that work about the group are its breadth, looking across all related subject matters, and the depth of knowledge, though it is possible to go too deep and replicate work done by other groups.

Improving the FRSUG meetings could include:

  • Sharing technical expertise to explain opportunities and limitations of the data.
  • Add a challenge session and feedback on how to improve and generate better products from the data.
  • Allow space for technical issues within the fire sector to be discussed
  • Allow more time after presentations for discussion and maybe consider more inclusive ways to source the presentations
  • Disseminate FRSUG information more widely – e.g. press releases, taking the stats and research to those who are not represented in the group
  • Increase links with academia

It also needs to be a little more resilient with more people involved in the organisation and administration. This would serve two purposes: firstly to share the load (which is not huge) and secondly make sure we’ve got a broader viewpoint. We should get some members together to take forward ways of developing and improving the group.

ACTION: Kirsty to send out a questionnaire to establish what members would like out of the group and who and how to take it forward.

5. Publications since last meeting

Scottish Government published the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Fire Safety and Organisational Statistics on February the 24th 2015. The publication was formerly called Fire and Rescue Statistics, Scotland. These statistics cover information about the fire safety activity, stations, equipment and workforce of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), including attacks on SFRS personnel. This bulletin contains information on the first year of the single SFRS and are the last of this bulletin to be published by Scottish Government. From now on they will be transferred to SFRS to collate and publish, keeping, as closely as possible, the same content and format. A data steering group has been established as a sub-group of the Fire Board to have oversight of any changes required to the statistics.

The FBU published a document called Firefighter Fatalities at Fires in the UK 2004 to 2013 it was commissioned from the University of Stirling as an academic work.

In January 2015 DCLG published its annual bulletin: Fire Statistics GB, covering incident statistics from April 2013 to March 2014. Key findings include FRAs in Great Britain attended about 212,000 fires in 2013/14, which is the second lowest figure recorded in over a decade, secondary fires are down, probably due to weather conditions. Two thirds of fire deaths were in accidental dwelling fires and one fifth of deaths had no smoke alarm installed.

In discussion, the group explored:

  • whether there were any variations in trends of smokers materials causing fires since the introduction of RIP cigarettes in November 2011 – Nazneen said there is some evidence of a gradual decline, though smokers materials are still the largest cause of accidental dwelling fire deaths.
  • Whether various appliances cause fires and whether we can we pick out details like this – these are shown in one of the published tables, though it is not detailed enough to include chargers for specific appliances.
  • Presence of smoke alarms – one fifth of fire deaths occur in houses where there was no working smoke alarm – so four fifths of deaths occur in houses where there is a working smoke alarm – is this something we should be looking at? – Nazneen thinks this may be due to incidents where the smoke alarm worked but the alarm was not raised (possibly due to the location of the alarm) or because of mobility issues, for example where the victim is bedridden or under the influence of alcohol.

6. Economic cost of fires – DCLG, SFRS, FSF and FBU

DCLG, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), the Fire Sector Federation (FSF) and the FBU have been considering the best way to update the economic cost of fire model. This agenda item was to gain an update on progress and establish ways forward to make best use of the available resources and interest.

Dennis Davis reported that the Fire Sector Federation (FSF) and the FBU were working together, and in close contact with DCLG, to let a contract to update the DCLG economic cost of fire model. Stewart Ross, representing the SFRS, said they have an interest and would like to engage once the work gets going.

The work started when DCLG decided not to continue the Economic Cost of Fire Model after 2008. The FBU chaired a collaborative project and were prepared to support some research. The first step was to invite interested [parties to tender for the work, but the responses offered little more than looking at what was around and establishing the aspirations for the economic cost of fires. The preliminary costs were much higher than anticipated, so the project team stopped to review the project requirement and possibly rethink the scope of the project. There was discussion about access to IRS data and the project team has been talking to DCLG via CFOA to gain access to the data. Part of the solution is to be clear and realistic about the fields that are required from IRS – the more selective they are the simpler it will be to share the data. They hope that fire industry colleagues will be able to provide financial data, though FPA point out that only around 30% of property is insured.

Dennis is hopeful that by mid-year the FSF and DCLG and stakeholders generally, including CFOA, can progress, starting by talking to DCLG. The new model should be basic and simple, using existing data and new trend analysis. Achieving this may be an iterative process culminating in a grand model.

Dave Sibert pointed out the importance of splitting out the cost of fire from the cost of the Fire and Rescue Service so that it is possible to establish the value of the service and carry out cost benefit analysis of the fire sector. Accepting that an economic model will have limitations, he would like it to consider hidden consequential costs of fire, such as injuries, road and railway closures and the social and environmental cost of fire. For these reasons they were calling it the Economics of fire not the Economic cost of fire.

In discussion, the purpose of the project and the tension between completeness and feasibility of the project was noted, and that the commissioning team needs to be clear about what they want to achieve with the outputs and about how you can, and should not use them. Several members noted that they have used the data in the course of work.

7. Institution of Fire Engineers – update

Neil Gibbins had hoped to attend to provide an update on the IFE, but was unavailable. Neil has a lot of ideas on how IFE can go forward and develop, including improving links with FRSUG. He has offered to host the next meeting at the IFE offices in Stratford Upon Avon, when he will also provide the IFE update.

8. Fire Service Emergency Cover (FSEC) – Presentation by Bob Cherry

Bob Cherry from Kent FRS is leading on the development of the FSEC toolkit. He provided a verbal update to the group regarding the Fire Services Emergency Cover (FSEC) Toolkit. Subjects covered included;

  • The system itself
  • The background of CLG’s desire to transfer ownership of and responsibility for the system to the UKFR sector
  • Project scope and deliverables to update the Computer platform, simplify the operating language and provide better quality graphics
  • Project arrangements including management, government transformation grant funding
  • Ongoing negotiations with CFOA National Resilience (CNR), the trading arm of CFOA to engage with the project and provide national branding and identity.

9. Fire Service Research & Training Trust – Presentation by Cath Reynolds

Cath is a trustee of the Fire Service Research & Training Trust (FSRTT). PDF The trust has historical funds, the interest of which can be used to support projects that support the aims of the FSRTT. These aims include research into methods of extinguishing fires and of protecting life and property from fire, training fire service personnel, Improvements in community fire safety and efficiency and effectiveness of the UK fire services as a whole.

The Trust invites applications for suitable projects and the number of projects that are funded is limited more by the quality than the numbers of applications. It is important to set out explicitly the background, purpose, outcomes and evaluation. Applicants should show that their own contribution into the project, and if it carries the support endorsement of an academic body, professional association or public agency then it then that can also help.

To make an application, go to website

10. Life after LSP5 – 5th London Safety Plan – presentation by Andy Mobbs of London Fire Brigade

The 5th London Safety Plan (LSP5) outlines a wide range of policies and measures intended to improve the safety of Londoners including plans to reduce fires amongst vulnerable groups, such as those living in sheltered housing; to lobby for the wider use of sprinklers; to introduce charges for repeat false fire alarm call outs, and to continue to carry out thousands of home fire safety visits each year.

LSP5 provided more information and analysis than at any other time. Highlights of the plan include:

  • Savings of £29m
  • The closure of 10 fire stations
  • Reducing the number of fire engines (pumping appliances) by 14
  • Redeploying five fire engines to different fire stations
  • Reducing the number of fire rescue units (specialist rescue vehicles) from 16 to 14
  • Reducing minimum crewing levels on fire rescue units from 5 firefighters to 4
  • Reducing the number of firefighter posts by 552

He discussed PDF the public reaction to the plan, and that the detailed and structured argument does not necessarily win over the opposition. The reductions in fire stations and fire appliances went ahead on 9 January 2014.

11. Any other Business

In the absence of Heidi Jones, Nazneen spoke about the IRS review which is entering the design phase and reviewing project requirements.

Shantha Dickinson is taking over as Chair of the CFOA IRS group.

Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell said that BRE will having a conference in June, to include information on building regulations, assisted care and the impact of the fire safety order – details can be found on the BRE website

Rob said that on the 10th of April the Forestry Commission are holding an event and workshop on using IRS data. Ed Galea will also be covering evacuation modelling based on the Swinley wildfire example.

Next meeting is scheduled for July – to be held in the IFE Offices in Stratford upon Avon.