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Fire and Rescue Statistics User Group

45th Meeting of the
Fire & Rescue Statistics User Group
18th March 2016
2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF

List of attendees

Apollo Gerolymbos (AG)

London Fire Brigade

Caroline Frampton


David Sibert (DS)


Dennis Davis (DD)

Fire Sector Federation (FRSUG Vice Chair)

Dominic Louks


Emma Crowhurst (EC)


Heidi Jones (HJ)

DCLG IRS Manager

Henry Landis


James Gallucci


Jason Davies (JD)

West Midlands FRS

Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell (JFM)


Jim Glockling


Kirsty Bosley (KB)

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – (FRSUG Chair)

Mike Burroughs (MB)

Structural Timber / IFE

Nikki Starnes


Paul Gaught


Shantha Dickinson


Sheila Pantry (SP)

Fire Information Group

Tom Roche

Fire Sector Federation

1. Chair’s Introduction

KB welcomed members and thanked DCLG for once again hosting the FRSUG meeting. She noted that this meeting was to be an unusual format, looking at how it would be possible to make the IRS data openly available and a workshop approach was to be used for this.

While there had been a volunteer for the minute secretary, this had fallen through and Kirsty once again asked members if any would be interested in acting as the secretary for these meetings.

Action: Members to advise KB of potential interest in acting as minute secretary for the FRSUG.

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

Because the meeting was to take the form of a workshop, the agenda, apologies and matters arising from the minutes were not formally gone through.

3. Welcome to Home Office Statistics David Blunt – Head of Profession for Statistics at Home Office

On the eve of the DCLG fire division transferring to the Home Office, David Blunt, the HO chief statistician gave an introduction to the context of Home Office statistics. The range of HO stats, including crime and policing, migration, alcohol licensing, and more, demonstrated the range and difficulties faced by the department and the recent changes that have been necessary. David discussed the professional background of the fire stats and research team, the resourcing issues and expectations, painting a positive picture for the future of the fire division.

Questions from the floor –

Dennis asked about the date of transfer of fire from DCLG to HO and about ways that fire data could be made more accessible for users.

The transfer from DCLG to HO is 1st April 2016

Opening up data is dependent on available resources, though the workshop was intended as the start of the process.

Resources – start with the baseline transferred from DCLG, build up to fill the vacancies, but expect to have to save by 2020. In future there is expected to be more mixing of teams and cross-cutting statistical/scientific work in the Home Office.

Jim raised the issue of access to IRS data requesting at individual incident level. David pointed out that the Home Office was not the best source for this level of data and the FPA should be contacting individual FRSs.

The availability of data at different geographies to those already published was acknowledged and will be part of the investigation into the requirements of open data.

Sheila asked about looking ahead and links to the health and safety arena rather than just supporting Home Office policy. David hoped that operational research and economists might take this forward, in particular ‘superforecasting’ has replaced the government approach of social nudging to change behaviours.

4. National publications


Emma reported on the DCLG Response Times publication of November 2015, pointing out that more analysis was needed to explain the changes and their outcomes.

The DCLG half yearly monitor was due to be published on 31st March. The end year monitor will be published in July or August.

FSGB was pre-announced for May / June. The presentation is to be changed and it is likely to cover just England rather than having GB sections. It will however keep a table comparing key statistical rates for England, Scotland and Wales.

The 18th March was Emma and Nikki Starnes’ last day in DCLG and FRSUG thanked them both for all their work and support over the years and wished them well for the future.

b. Welsh Government

The most recent Welsh publications were the quarterly StatsWales tables at the end of February. They’re looking to slim down the publication but maintain access to the tables. Links are below:

Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) have had requests related to fires with electrical sources of ignition, deliberate fires by local authority, casualties (by source of ignition, cause) and rescues (by age, source of ignition, cause and where they were rescued from).

They have been working on a deliberate grassland fire project centrings on fires occurring at Easter, and they’re currently in the process of developing a web based tool to map these fires. It’s hoped that this tool will help to identify the locations of clusters and aid the FRSs in targeting their resources.

c. Scottish Government

Fire Safety and Organisational Statistics, 2014-15 were published on 15th March – the equivalent of operational stats in England and Wales. The contents and format of the statistics are currently being reviewed which is likely to require a public consultation if major changes are recommended.

5. Open Data Workshop

Paul introduced the workshop where he planned to explore how to provide open data. The first step is to establish data protection options and determine what is best for the nation. He pointed out that it is not possible to publish everything from IRS and that there is a difference between case studies and statistics. It is also important to remember that different data users have different needs and so great care is needed to develop the best approach for everyone. The greater public interest has to be the main driver of the exercise.

a. Open data opportunities

Martin Waudby of DCLG Open Data Team gave a presentation on the opportunities offered by open data with examples of the analysis, visualisation and outputs that have been achieved. The presentation is on the FRSUG website and has been circulated with the DCLG/Home Office open data consultation.

b. Data protection

Martin Harding and Juliet Voss of the DCLG Knowledge and Information Team gave an in-depth explanation of the legal requirements of protecting people’s personal data. This is not a simple matter and any personal data, or data that could be combined to identify personal data must be treated very carefully. This cannot be overcome simply by anonymising fields. They used the attached presentation to work through some of the relevant points.

Their presentation is also on the FRSUG website.

c. CFOA perspective

CFOA are keen to promote data sharing and to reduce the data burden across fire and rescue services.

d. Discussion, Feedback and Next Steps session

Paul gave a demonstration of how the IRS data can quickly become disclosive when fields are combined, and also how seemingly innocuous fields can contain sensitive information.

He explained that open data needs to be useful to as many people as possible, but that means there are decisions needed on the detail or level of geography of data to be published. Paul also stressed the benefits of open data and the positives to DCLG/Home Office and the fire sector of this project.

FRSUG members were asked to fill in a decision table to show the priority they would put on the main options for open data. Members were asked to rank key IRS fields in order of preference. NOTE: this table has subsequently been sent to all FRSUG members for completion and results are available on the Knowledge Hub. [Please sign up if you’re interested at and then search for the “Publishing Fire Incident Level Data Publicly” and Home Office staff will need to approve you.]

6. Date and location of next meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 7th September 2016 and will be held in London Fire Brigade HQ at 169 Union St, London SE1 0LL.