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Fire and Rescue Statistics User Group

44th Meeting of the
Fire & Rescue Statistics User Group
13th November 2015, 1100 – 1500
Home Office Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF

List of attendees

Kirsty Bosley (KB)

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (FRSUG Chair)

Mike Burroughs (MB)

Structural Timber / IFE

Emma Crowhurst (EC)

DCLG

Jason Davies (JD)

West Midlands FRS

Dennis Davis (DD)

Fire Sector Federation (FRSUG Vice Chair)

Steve Emery (SE)

Historic England

Simon Flood (SF)

Avon FRS

Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell (JFM)

BRE

Paul Gaught (PG)

DCLG

Apollo Gerolymbos (AG)

London Fire Brigade

Clare Hayles (CH)

CFOA IRS Working Group / Hampshire FRS

Heidi Jones (HJ)

DCLG IRS Manager

Brian Neat (BN)

CFOA / Hampshire FRS

Sheila Pantry (SP)

Fire Information Group

Stewart Ross (SR)

Scottish FRS

David Sibert (DS)

FBU

Andy Tillman (AT)

NTSIT

David Townsend (DT)

IFIC Forensics

David Wales (DW)

Kent FRS/Lifebid

1. Chair’s Introduction

KB welcomed members and thanked Heidi Jones of DCLG for hosting the meeting in DCLG’s new home in the Home Office building in Marsham Street.

KB noted that the overwhelming choice for the location of future meetings was London, but as no central location was available this is dependent on offers from members or organisations located in London to host the meetings.

KB further advised the group that in the absence of a minute secretary for the group SR had agreed to take the minute of the current meeting. KB asked members if they would be interested in acting as the secretary for these meetings.

Action: members to advise KB of potential interest in (i) hosting future FRSUG meetings, and (ii) acting as minute secretary for the FRSUG.

CHAIR’S NOTE – Clare Hayles from Hampshire FRS, representing CFOA, has offered to become minutes secretary.

Nikki Starnes from the DCLG IRS team has offered to support us with accommodation and location booking.

2. Apologies, Minutes of 43rd meeting and matters arising

Apologies were received from Rob Gazzard, Neil Gibbins, Catherine Barham, and Andy Mobbs.

On the minutes of the 43rd meeting, the following points were noted:

  • Item 4: Action on KB regarding contacting Trading Standards completed.
  • Item 5c: DD reported that an FOI request had been made to DCLG for access to the data to support the economic cost of fire model. This application had been refused and was now the subject of an appeal by the FPA.

3. FRSUG Business

a. New members

On the matter of membership of FRSUG itself, KB had been asked how members join, which was fairly informal at present. There are currently around 60 corresponding members, of whom a much smaller number attend the meetings. KB asked members for their views on representation at FRSUG meetings, in light of difficulties in hosting the meetings and the potential number of attendees. It was suggested that this be limited to 1 or 2 per organisation, which was in line with current practice.

DD pointed out that the meetings were useful for networking, and there was an opportunity to bring in specialist attendees as required.

Members agreed to carry on with the current approach of 1 or 2 members per organisation attending, with specialist attendees invited when required.

KB then introduced new member Mike Burroughs of Fire Investigations UK, who gave a short summary of his role and previous experience.

b. Dave Wales proposal on dwelling fires research sub-group

DW gave a verbal report on this topic. He advised that he was willing to facilitate a feasibility study on the establishment of a research sub-group sitting under FRSUG, research to focus on highest risk of injury and death in dwelling fires.

SE suggested it would be useful to gather information on what was being done in the sector but not widely known at present. JD supported this, stating it was important that research was shared. JD suggested CFOA could provide co-ordination and support for partnership working.

SP asked whether knowledge of who does what or has a particular research interest exists at present.

DD commented that it would be useful to have more detail about the proposal and asked DW to provide a one-page summary for consideration by the FRSUG. Website of NESTA Alliance for Useful Evidence could provide some guidance on such approaches (www.alliance4usefulevidence.org).

KB suggested the one-pager should also include guidance on governance more than specific projects.

Action: DW to supply a short paper on this topic for members to consider

c. Andy Tillman – Trading Standards Intelligence Team (TSIT)

AT introduced himself to members and gave a verbal summary on the role of the Trading Standards Intelligence Team. He mentioned that the Trading Standards function had evolved over time and was different in Scotland. His team had both analytical functions and field-based officers focusing on serious and organised crime. They work to a version of the National Intelligence Model (NIM) that has been in use for many years by the police. There are ten regional analysts across the country, and one enforcement officer in each region. Priorities for his team include e-crime, illegal money lending etc. He noted that Product Safety was of particular interest to FRSUG.

AT gave an example of how the establishment of what are known as fulfilment houses for packaging and issue of goods can lead to the sale of unsafe electrical goods that do not meet current safety standards. The TSIT works closely with ports to follow up matters related to the import of unsafe goods for later re-packaging and sale.

AG asked a question concerning electrical goods ordered via a specific on-line site. AT mentioned that his team was engaging with UK law enforcement on unsafe goods which could pass through fulfilment houses before finally being issued to the consumer.

BN advised that CFOA would be in touch with TSIT particularly regarding white goods.

SP asked whether TS had a role with product recalls.

AT will feed back comments made by the group to the Enforcement Section.

KB thanked AT for his contribution to the meeting.

d. Statistics User Forum – written note from Paul Allin SUF

KB did not have copies available for the meeting – she advised these would be circulated to members afterwards

Action: KB to circulate the note from Paul Allin PDF to members

KB briefly summarised that the Statistics User Forum supported users of official statistics regarding engaging with users, communicating statistics etc. She encouraged members to join if interested.

National Reports

4. Scottish Government Report

KB reported that she was now formally seconded to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) to prepare the annual statistical reports entitled Fire and Rescue Statistics, Scotland and Fire and Rescue Service Fire Safety and Organisational Statistics on behalf of SFRS. SFRS is not a provider of official or national statistics at present, and KB’s role also involves assisting SFRS in moving towards achievement of the National Statistics Authority’s requirements. Publication of the Fire and Rescue Statistics, Scotland statistics is scheduled for 15 December 2015. To meet this deadline some supplementary tables would not be published on this occasion.

KB also reported that in October HMFSI had published a report on managing automated fire signals (available at www.gov.scot/Resource/0048/00486519.pdf)

5. Wales Update from Claire Davey

As Claire Davey was unable to attend the meeting she provided a brief update to members in her stead. The 2014-15 statistical report for Wales had been published as planned (available at http://gov.wales/statistics-and-research/fire-statistics/?lang=en). She also reported that a number of data requests had been received on fire casualties, deliberate fires, and on false alarms in hospitals.

KB would circulate the update PDF to members on Claire Davey’s behalf.

Action: KB to circulate the Welsh update to members

6. DCLG research and statistics report

Statistical Reports and Open Data Initiatives

PG reported that problems with the extract-transform-load (ETL) process on the IRS had been resolved. The annual fire statistics publication had been completed in August (available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/456623/Fire_Statistics_Monitor_April_2014_to_March_2015_Updated260815.pdf).

Response times were to be published soon [now available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/fire-incidents-response-times-england-2014-to-2015].

PG reported that DCLG resources were tight – team down to two members from four and he gave an update on progress towards open data publication of IRS information. He advised that the data would have to be published in an accessible way but without breaching requirements to protect personal data. This has been discussed internally by four different teams who each had specialists in particular areas of interest when publishing open data. The ownership of record-level data was under discussion – if record-level data is owned by individual FRSs and not by DCLG this would make publication more complicated.

PG gave exemplars of potential concerns for the protection of personal data, including identification of individuals from causes of injury recorded on the IRS, or where the incident was noted as a suicide attempt for instance. The use of free text fields which could record personal information was also mentioned.

PG reported that the publication of crime data by the police had involved a number of techniques for anonymising information, including merging of crime types to cope with sensitivity issues, grid references not being provided as such – just snap points on the grid. Also, no victim details were provided in the police data.

DCLG had been in contact with the Department for Transport (DFT) about RTCs. These were generally of less concern than dwelling fires and similar incidents, as addresses that could identify individuals were not generally involved. The DFT publishes two datasets, one on RTCs and one on drink-drive tests which is not connected to the RTCs dataset at all for legal reasons.

PG asked members to consider what open access to IRS data would be used for, so that DCLG could get a balanced view of what would be in the public interest to publish and what would not.

Action: Members to provide PG examples of the types of analysis they would use IRS record level data for.

On next steps, PG advised that one suggestion was to form a project team involving representation from ONS, users, FRSs and technical experts to make sure that open data could be published in a suitable way. This was to be discussed internally. It was not possible for PG to state a timescale for the provision of open data from the IRS at present.

IRS Replacement

HJ reported that the project was still paused at present, and that during this pause options were being reviewed. The DCLG analytical team had been reorganised, with all data collection staff brought together. There was a new management structure in place. A new data warehouse was being set up.

HJ also mentioned that the IRS was different to other systems in DCLG as incident-level data is collected, not summary data at an aggregate level.

DCLG has been informally engaging with suppliers during the current pause, and is investigating the feasibility of a number of options going forward.

HJ commented that the spending review may well have an impact on the redevelopment but this was an unknown at present.

HJ reported that a separate group on the knowledge hub had been set up to ensure that all screenshots etc. from the alpha phase development were retained for future use.

7. Progress on FSEC

KB reported that the FSEC development project formerly led by Bob Cherry at CFOA has now ceased. Although help desk support will continue at present, the cessation of the FSEC development project means that there will be no further support from CFOA for the development of a more modern platform to host the FSEC system.

Presentations

8. High-profile fires in heritage buildings (Steve Emery)

SE gave a short presentation on high-profile heritage buildings PDF that had been badly damaged by fire in the past 25 years. His particular concern was the lack of heritage categories for recording such incidents on the IRS.

SE acknowledged that defining the term ‘heritage building’ is difficult, as not all grades of listed building are classed as heritage buildings.

HJ explained that a field had originally been planned for this purpose on the IRS, but it was removed for workflow reasons.

9. BRE Research (Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell)

JFM presented extracts from a detailed PowerPoint presentation on applications of UK fire statistics. PDF Examples of modelling aspects of fires in warehouses, the effect of compartment size on life safety, and fire spread from external vehicle fires.

10. CFOA IDRP update (Brian Neat)

BN provided members with copies of a CFOA paper describing CFOA’s Integrated Data and Research Programme (IDRP). He outlined progress made to date. He reported that the IDRP was launched in April at Greenwich University. The programme has four workstreams – Research, Social marketing and analysis, Data collection and sharing, and Benchmarking. On data collection and sharing, BN mentioned issues over access to national data.

BN reported that a data analyst group had been launched on the CFOA web site to assist with sharing of best practice.

On benchmarking, BN highlighted that ten strategic benchmarks in three categories were being considered to provide a suitable means to comparing performance. The categories are do we do what we say we will?; Are the outcomes as good as they could be?; and Do we provide a good value service?

BN stated that an aim was to develop a portal to bring together research in the UK. Initial discussions had also taken place with bodies in Europe to investigate options for further research funding under societal elements associated with disaster resilience.

SP commented that a lot of research was going on in New Zealand as well.

BN commented that evidence-based decision making was essential, especially for the future of integrated risk management planning (IRMP).

BN also mentioned that discussions were taking place with Fire Investigation (FI) leads over the possible provision of a central database for FI records to start identifying trends. Other bodies with which discussions were taking place included Public Health England on possible data sharing on waste management sites, the BRE for possible sharing of their data, and DCLG for IRS data.

11. West Midlands FRS – update on new IRMP approach (Jason Davies)

JD reported on progress on his new approach to bringing the West Midlands Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) into the digital age, providing staff, stakeholders and the public with a web-based tool that will engage them more than the current PDF document that we publish on our website at the moment. He had shared the link to the prototype website prior to the meeting and asked members for feedback, including comments by email after the meeting.

12. Any other Business

KB advised she would circulate a link to the record of the parliamentary debate on fire safety in schools after the meeting

[www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm151022/halltext/151022h0001.htm#column_448WH]

Action: KB to circulate item on fires in schools

On membership, KB reported that Dave Berry was standing down from attendance at FRSUG meetings, though he would remain a corresponding member. Mike Burroughs would attend in his stead. David Townsend also reported that he was retiring from FRSUG.

SP asked members to notify her of any items of interest, forthcoming conferences etc. which could be uploaded to the FRSUG web site.

13. Date and location of next meeting

KB proposed that the next meeting should take place in March or April 2016 – location to be decided.

Chair’s note

The dates are now confirmed as:

The 45th FRSUG meeting will be on the 18th of March 2016 and the 46th FRSUG meeting will be on the 7th of September 2016. Both meetings will held at 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF