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Agenda item

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service - Integrated Risk Management Plan Consultation

(i)      Report of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships.

(ii)     Presentation by Stuart Errington, Chief Fire Officer, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.

Minutes:

The Chairman asked the Chief Fire Officer, S Errington to speak in relation to the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) Consultation for the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Authority (for copy see file of minutes).

 

The Chief Fire Officer explained for the benefit of new Members that producing an IRMP was a statutory duty of the Fire and Rescue Authority, from the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004.  He added that a national framework published in 2012 had set out the Government’s priorities and expectations of Fire and Rescue Authorities.  Members note that the current three year plan ran until 2021, with the consultation being on the annual action plan. 

 

Members were referred to the information within the report relating to the consultation required in terms of the IRMP and noted that the consultation ran up to 4 February 2019, to be completed and reported back to the Fire Authority on 22 February 2019.

 

The Chief Fire Officer noted government funding cuts, representing a reduction of approximately 58 percent and set out the current medium term financial plan (MTFP), noting that it had originally thought reductions would level out in 2020/21, however, this was no longer likely to be the case.  Members were advised of the Fire Brigade Union’s (FBU) pay claim that had been submitted and that Fire Authorities were facing very difficult funding positions going forward.

 

The Chief Fire Officer noted that around 75 percent of funding related to emergency response and members were reminded of the four current shift arrangements, whole time (WT), day crewing (DC), RDS/on call, and day crewing plus (DC+).  He asked Members to recall the DC+ arrangements at Seaham and Newton Aycliffe, as presented to Committee at previous meetings.  The Chief Fire Officer noted that arrangements had allowed for savings, with the emergency response standards remaining the same, proof of the good choices that had been made.

 

The Committee noted an Emergency Response Review, with the Fire Service looking at large amount of data, and looking at risk and where costs were occurred, with 75 percent being salaries.

 

Members were asked to note the case between the FBU and South Yorkshire FRS as regards “close proximity crewing” similar to the DC+ arrangements in Durham.  The Chief Fire Officer explained that as the case in the High Court between FBU and SYFRS had a ruling that their arrangements did not comply with Working Time Directives, then Durham could not take the risk and a review of Durham’s arrangements, without DC+ was undertaken.  Members noted a service profile had been produced, looking at high demand area and where the Service’s resources were allocated, for example numbers of fire appliances.  The Chief Fire Officer explained from the data the emergency response review had led to a number of options being looked at for future arrangements, as set out in the IRMP consultation.

 

 

 

 

Councillors noted that option one was to change DC+ arrangements to WT or equivalent.  The Chief Fire Officer noted that if there were no issues in terms of money, this would be the preferable option, however, there would be a significant cost increase of around £600,000 and there was also a risk that the arrangements would not match station risk and demand profiles, as well as implication for the MTFP and a requirement to move appliances.  It was noted that upon modelling these changes, it was shown to be approximately neutral in terms of response performance.

 

The Chief Fire Officer explained that Option Two would be for DC+ to change to DC only.  It was explained this would represent a £350,000 saving, and also meant resources would be allocated to risk and demand profiles.  He added modelling showed a reduction in response performance and there would be impact in terms of the numbers of appliances and on DC+ and wider staff.

 

Councillors noted that Option Three would be for a service wide approach would look to more changes, representing a £450,000 saving, and also allocated resources based on risk and demand profiles.  It was added that it would also represent a better geographical placement of resources and improve performance at four stations and Spennymoor area and the overall service.  It was explained that this option also allowed for areas where there had been high risk identified to have additional support.

 

The Chief Fire Officer noted that the preferred option for the CDDFRS was Option 3, as it provided savings and the opportunity to provide improved performance.  Members noted that the consultation being undertaken was genuine, with the FBU and staff looking at options too.  He noted that there had not been an intention to look for such a change, however, the implications of the case as described and national changes meant the various options had to be explored.  He concluded by asking the Committee for their opinion and noting that individuals could respond to the consultation in addition.

 

The Chairman thanked the Chief Fire Officer for his presentation and thanked him and his staff for successfully piloting our Fire Service through austerity.

 

Mr D Balls noted the FBU case had implications and asked as regards their position.  The Chief Fire Officer noted he understood the position of the FBU and the desire for WT stations if money was no object.  He reiterated the financial position for the CDDFRS, and indeed the pressures on all FRS across the country.  He noted that FRS had though cuts would level out in 2019/20 and FRS were lobbying hard, else there would be implications in terms of impact in terms of risk to the public.

 

Councillor K Thompson noted that finance was an issue and asked if there were any implications in relation to PFI funded stations.  The Chief Fire Officer noted the two stations were Spennymoor and Bishop Auckland and that the deal that was struck at the time was very good, and that it would not have been achievable at that cost via other means and there have been no issues.  He added that the bigger issue was the loss of capital grants from Government, effectively a further cut.  Councillor K Thompson noted he understood from the options as set out that Option Three would provide savings and enhanced cover and performance, notably in his area of Spennymoor and therefore supported that Option.

 

The Chairman asked if Members could indicated there preference in terms of the options as set out.  Upon a show of hand the unanimous support of the Committee was for Option Three.

 

The Chief Fire Officer thanked the Committee for their support and noted consultation events taking place in localities: 10 January, Seaham; 14 January, Spennymoor; 15 January, Durham; and 16 January, Newton Aycliffe.

 

Resolved:

 

(i)       That the report and presentation be noted.

(ii)      That the Committee give support to Option Three as set out by the Chief Fire Officer within the IRMP Consultation document and presentation.

(iii)      That a response containing the views of the Committee on the IRMP Consultation document be submitted to the CDDFRS.

 

 

 

Supporting documents:

 

Contacts
Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
Durham
County Durham
DH1 5UL
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03000 269 714