Skip to content

Fire and Rescue Statistics User Group

46th Meeting of the
Fire & Rescue Statistics User Group
7th September 2016
London Fire Brigade HQ

1. Attendees

  • Rob Gazzard
  • David Wales
  • Dave Washer
  • Jim Glocking
  • Tom Roche
  • Charlie Harris
  • Stewart Kidd
  • Caroline Frampton
  • Heidi Jones
  • Martyn Emberson
  • Ian Moore
  • Fay Graves
  • Kirsty Bosley
  • James Gallucci
  • Brian Martin
  • Sheila Pantry
  • Dave Sibert
  • Jason Davis
  • Anna Richardson
  • Andrew Mobbs
  • Gill Montague
  • Louise Dowdles
  • Neil Gibbins
  • Georgina Smalldridge
  • Mike Burroughs

2. FRSUG Business

Chair’s Introduction and FRSUG business

Kirsty requested volunteers to be secretary to the group. The Home Office team have volunteered to provide support booking rooms and times, but a minute secretary is still needed.

She also checked with everyone that they are happy for their names and contact details to appear on the web and be shared in emails (i.e. appear on the copy list). All at the meeting were content for their contact details to be available. Please contact Kirsty if you would rather restrict access to your details.

Sheila requested that members contact her if their own details change or with any news or events that would benefit from inclusion on the FRSUG website. We should also all revisit and update the sources of statistics page of the FRSUG site.

3. Home Office update


  • After a long period of staff vacancies the statistics team is now fully resourced, with the arrival of Fay Graves (replacing Emma Crowhurst) and Georgina Smalldridge, a new statistical officer.
  • Anna Richardson has recently joined to manage both the fire statistics and research teams. The research team has also been short-staffed but two new researchers are to join us by the end of September.

Statistics releases

  • Fire Statistics for England 2015/16 was published on 17 August;
  • Forthcoming releases for Autumn include
    1. Fire Pensions on 19 Oct (data on scheme finances and membership),
    2. Operational Statistics on 27 Oct (includes data on FRS workforce and safety checks),
    3. Response times 2015/16 in Nov/Dec (IRS data on average response times to fires),
    4. Fire Statistics England 2015/16 in late 2016 or early 2017 (detailed breakdowns of the 2015/16 headline results)
  • As part of the move to Home Office we have been trying to improve the format of the statistics reports, data tables and the website. We would welcome any feedback on this via

Open data

  • Paul Gaught in the Fire Statistics Team is leading on this work to publish more of the incident-level IRS data.
  • The best way to hear updates about this project is via the Knowledge Hub, where Paul posts regular updates on progress or requests for feedback. Contact the team on if you’d like to sign up.
  • Over Summer 2016, we ran a brief survey with interested stakeholders to find out about which variables would be most useful within an Open Data release. The results showed a lot of variation, particularly in the extent to which users rated variables such as the location of the fire as being important to them, which underlines the range of different user needs we’re trying to meet. We’ve also approached FRSs to find out about their most common FOI requests and are exploring whether we could include some of that commonly requested data within the Open Data.
  • More recently, we’ve engaged with experts, including Home Office’s Data Protection and Open data teams and the Open Data Institute.
  • Our current favoured solution is to publish a series of data tables covering different variables, but ensuring that the tables can’t be linked together to identify any sensitive information about individuals or individual fires.
  • The aspiration is to publish a first set of open Data in Spring 2017 and will hold workshops to discuss user views before / after this.

Reviewing our processes

  • The move to Home Office and new management has created a good opportunity to look at the way we do things, including our collections, data processing and dissemination, and ensure we’re doing things in an optimal way. Some of this work will be internal-facing – e.g. efforts to improve the quality assurance of our published statistics tables – but if and when we need to engage external users, we will make sure FRSUG are included as one such group of valuable stakeholders.

IRS update

Heidi gave a brief update on the IRS. In April 2016 all DCLG Fire staff moved to the Home Office. The last six months have been focussed on the transition.

The IRS replacement project was on hold for much of the last year while the team explored various replacement options suggested by DCLG IT. None of them were implementable.

On 20 May we hosted the first IRS CFOA working Group since the move. The group were introduced to the Home Office and we re-started the dialogue with the sector after a long period of silence in DCLG.

Both the IRS and the domain were transferred to the Home Office. We are talking to Home Office technology and commercial colleagues about our options moving forward. At this stage there are two main options, to patch up the current IRS this year or to complete the rebuild of the IRS this year and next. This might be done in house or contracted out. We have taken funds from DCLG to cover this.

In parallel we have focussed on keeping the current system running as well as possible. We are looking at ways of increasing our resource to put ourselves in a better position going forward.

Questions from the floor – several members raised particular issues they would like to see addressed within IRS.

Requests from members:

Member requesting

Topic requested

Stewart Kidd

Collecting data on animal deaths (race horses), construction site fires, buildings at risk.

Neil Gibbins

Data on timber framed buildings

Dave Sibert

Wildfire, alarms, sprinkler data and Fires of Special Interest could be better recorded. Could we have the functionality to add a question, perhaps for a year?

Rob Gazzard

Information on the duration – time from start to end of fire, and cause. When wildfire spreads to a primary location, the wildfire is lost

Andy Mobbs

IRS training is a challenge for FRSs. Historic buildings – perhaps join with the historic buildings data to get the data right.

There was also interest in linking service data to other datasets to learn more from it.

4. Scottish update

Kirsty introduced Louise Dowdles, the new analytical statistician in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). Following publication of the 2015-16 bulletins, the research and statistics function has now been handed over from Scottish Government to SFRS.

HMFSI Scotland

Martyn Emberson gave a presentation on the role and remit of the Scottish HMFSI. It is an independent organisation under Royal Warrant providing advice to Scottish Government and SFRS. They are self-determining and publish a plan every year.

HMFSI carry out three types of inspection:

  1. Local area – assessed against the local authority plan for the area, the inspectorate carry out 4 local inspections per year with their 3.5 staff. They publish reports online and would like to raise the profile of the statistics in the reporting. The South Ayrshire inspection was just being completed.
  2. Thematic inspection – currently inspecting on fire safety because fire safety wasn’t revised when the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 was introduced. Also inspecting on shared assets and services, looking at transformation of public services in Scotland, but also integration and making links across GB.
  3. Specific inspections on particular trends, i.e. shared use of assets and services.

Overall Martyn would like the Inspectorate to have the role of critical friend to SFRS and to provide a view on operational assurance with other inspectorates in the UK.

Questions from the floor:

Shantha asked about peer-review and how that would interact with the Inspectorate role. Martyn explained that the Inspectorate brings rigour and removes the option of selecting reviewers. Also in terms of peers, the SFRS is not comparable with other services.

Dave Sibert asked about Scottish fire conferences which seem to have ceased. Martyn agreed that it would be valuable to reinstate them but pointed out the need for ‘transmitters and receivers’ at such an event i.e. an event involving only SFRS would not provide the value of a more cross-cutting event. Neil Gibbins pointed out that he is working with SFRS on an IFE conference on research, to take place next May.

Ian Moore asked Martyn if he is involved with user groups in Scotland. They agreed to discuss later.

SFRS Statistics

The Fire Safety and Organisational Statistics were published on 18th August 2016 presenting data on workforce, stations and vehicles, attacks at incidents, home fire safety visits and legislative fire safety audits in Scotland relating to April 2014 to March 2015.

The bulletin was accompanied by an infographic for the first time which was welcomed as a simple clear first view of the statistics.

The Fire and Rescue Service Statistics 2015-16 bulletin, presenting incident statistics, is due to be published on the SFRS website on 18th October 2016

SFRS analysis

Stewart Ross has produced analysis on the seasonality of Scottish dwelling fires and casualties PDF (now on the FRSUG website). The analysis shows that accidental dwelling fires peak around December each year and are in general at their lowest in the summer and early autumn months from June to September. Secondary fires and fire casualties and fatalities show no discernible seasonality.

Wales update

No update from Wales for this meeting.

CFOA update – IDRP

Shantha Dickinson provided an update on the integrated data and research project (IDRP) setting out the background and evolution. It was launched in April 2015 to unify services and their own and other agencies’ data.

Quarterly meetings are held at Marsham Street under the Corporate Sector and Service Improvement group of CFOA.

An event is planned on 9th November at Havant Plaza around Open Data.

Paul Holland of Buckinghamshire FRS is leading the research and development function in CFOA. They are developing an end-to-end process for delivery to the community.

Anne Millington of Kent FRS is leading a benchmarking project for CFOA and looking to get 10 measures agreed across GB fire and rescue services.

There is interest in data sharing, focussed on IRS data but considering other data initiatives too. This work is based at Hampshire FRS.

A new chair is needed to take over from Shantha as chair of the CFOA IRS Working Group. It is hoped that Graeme Lockhart from Durham and Darlington FRS will take over (to be confirmed).

Philip Usher has left the sector. His work on geo-demographics, risk analysis and mosaic data, comparing Cheshire, London and six other services looking at lifestyles and fire risk is not finished and we’re waiting to hear who will pick this up.

5. Statistics User Forum

Andy Mobbs attended a meeting of the Statistics User Forum on behalf of FRSUG on 7th July and provided a summary. The group is for information sharing and discussion, not for decision making. The Royal Statistical Society host the meetings providing ‘top-down’ views.

The health Statistics User group and construction industry were present, as were the UK Statistics Authority. The Good Practice team from the Home Office talked about the need for critical friends.

Ed Humpherston (the Authority’s Director General for Regulation) talked about the Bean review and improvements to ONS and the UK Statistical Authority. The likelihood is that UKSA will become more distant from ONS.

They are updating the Code of Practice for Official Statistics and holding numerous stakeholder engagement groups.

There is consultation on the 2021 census and work around sub-national population projections.

The meetings are quarterly with the next meeting on Wednesday 9th of November at the RSS (same day as the CFOA conference). Andy has volunteered to attend again for FRSUG.

6. Publications since last meeting

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published 2014 data for fire deaths, indicating 265 000 deaths per year worldwide, mostly occurring in low- and middle-income countries and mainly in the home and workplace.

However, looking at WHO’s site, WHO has the UK down as 3.7 deaths per 100,000 population, but in 2014-15, the provisional fire fatality rate in Scotland was 7.7 fatalities per million population, England 4.7 pmp and Wales 6.8 pmp. So WHO’s equivalent 37 pmp doesn’t match up with published GB statistics. Members agreed that it would be useful to have transparent methodology to help users understand what is being presented and why it doesn’t match published GB statistics.

LifeBid – David Wales mentioned that an article on LifeBid was published in Fire Magazine. It represented a survey of people who had experienced a fire, the role of smoke alarms and an analysis of what happened. Services have a query builder to enable them to query the database which will be developed as a national asset.

The findings show that injured people react differently to people who die in fires and try to understand his in order to reduce deaths and injuries, and the FRS approach. The evaluation involves quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Risk Review reports – Jim Glockling raised the re-publishing of Risk Review Reports by FPA. These are available on the Risk Authority website and contain financial cost breakdowns of fires.

Climate Change Committee – Rob Gazzard pointed out that Chapter 2 and 3 of the Climate Change Committee use IRS data as the evidence base for decision making.

Sheila suggested we write a news release to celebrate the activities of FRSUG.

7. FPA Projects

Business and Property Protection Portal

Jim Glockling

Jim gave a presentation on the Business and Property Protection Portal provided by FPA which will launch in October. The aim is to make simple, accessible and relevant advice more readily available. Resources made available from FPA include:

  • Large loss database
  • Informer
  • BFPP
  • INFORMER – GIS View Web – Provides all risks by postcode (2011 census data) – used by insurers to underwrite risk

Business sector loss review reports are provided in real time provide more than 50% of the ABI total.

Fire and Rescue Service Response Tool – all services have provided information on stations, crewing and location to be able to estimate response time to areas. Other information includes the probability of the station providing the expected response and statistical losses for occupancy types and geographic hazards

Micro-site exploitation allows organisations to use RISC information and present it integrated into their own platforms, such as websites and documents. FPA publishes numerous guides for particular risks.

The site is password protected but FRSUG members can request the password.

8. ISO statistics – Interflam

ISO Technical Committee 92

Mike Burroughs presented the work of the ISO Technical Committee 92 on International Fire Statistics.

Note: The presentation was circulated after the meeting and is now saved on the FRSUG website. PDF

350 fire scientists work on this ISO, not many are from the UK. Mike’s been talking to Dominique Parissa about the fire safety statistics data collection, though the officials in FRSUG have not heard directly from them.

In an overview of the national fire statistics practices three main differences were identified:

  • Terminology
  • Methodology
  • Training

9. New 6 year wildfire statistics

Rob Gazzard gave a presentation providing a Summary of Forestry Commission analysis of IRS for England and Great Britain Wildfire evidence 2009/10 to 2014/15. The analysis looked at the number and impact of wildfire incidents across Britain.

Note: The presentation was circulated after the meeting and is now saved on the FRSUG website. PDF

10. IFE update

Neil Gibbins provided an update of the activities and plans for IFE.

11. Any Other Business

No other business was reported.

12. Date of Next Meeting

Proposed 13th March 2017