Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
Contact: Laura Powick
To note any apologies.
There were no apologies.
To agree the minutes of the meetings held on 27 May 2022 and 21 June 2022.
The minutes of the meetings held on 27 May and 21 June 2022 were approved.
Declarations of Interest
To receive any pecuniary or personal interests from members.
No declarations of interest were received.
To consider a report on feedback from the HMICFRS Inspection.
Mark Preece, Chief Fire Officer (CFO), presented the report on feedback from the HMICFRS inspection, which took place in September and October 2021.
Members understood that the inspection was focused on three questions: how effective was the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from the risk of fire and other risks; how efficient was the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from the risk of fire and other risks; and how well did the fire and rescue service look after its people?
Members were reminded that Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) had been notified in January 2022 of two Causes of Concern identified during the inspection. These related to GFRS having not done enough since the last inspection to embed its values and associated behaviours, and promote a positive workplace culture; and GFRS having not done enough since the last inspection to improve understanding of the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and to remove barriers to establishing EDI in the service.
Members were informed that since receiving the notification, GFRS had worked collaboratively with Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) to develop an Improvement Plan, which was signed off by HMICFRS on 11 March 2022.
Members noted that GCC had committed a further £2million of funding to GFRS, which would be used to increase capacity by funding 28 new permanent posts.
Mark Preece informed the Committee that GFRS had been placed into an enhanced monitoring process in May 2022, which would provide additional scrutiny and support, and that on 27 July 2022, HMICFRS published its final report on GFRS.
Members understood that in terms of effectiveness, GFRS had been graded requires improvement. In terms of efficiency, GFRS had been graded requires improvement. In terms of people, GFRS had been graded inadequate.
The CFO expressed disappointment that the grading for GFRS had deteriorated since the last inspection. He explained that in response to the feedback from HMICFRS, GFRS had worked collaboratively to produce a detailed improvement plan to address the issues which had been raised, and which would be presented to Cabinet at its meeting on 21 September 2022 for approval.
Members were also informed that the Community Safety Improvement Board had been re-established, which would be chaired by the GCC Deputy Chief Executive, to monitor progress against the Improvement Plan. Additionally, GFRS had engaged with an external provider which specialised in public sector cultural intelligence and change, as well as with the Principal Officer Team at West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, which had been through a similar improvement journey.
Members noted that HMICFRS would be revisiting GFRS in autumn 2022 to review progress against the Improvement Plan for the two Causes of Concern.
The Committee discussed the feedback on the HMICFRS inspection and asked questions of the CFO for clarification, considering each of the three areas of effectiveness, efficiency and people in turn.
Focusing initially on effectiveness, one member sought clarification on what was meant by the enhanced monitoring process. ... view the full minutes text for item 58.
To receive a report on how prepared GFRS is to deal with the potential increase in heatwaves and wildfires in Gloucestershire in the future.
Mark Preece presented the report which detailed GFRS preparations to deal with the potential increase in heatwaves and wildfires in Gloucestershire in the future.
Members noted the definition of a wildfire, and that wildfires tended to coincide with extended periods of dry, warm weather. The risk could be exacerbated by rainfall ahead of a dry period which increased vegetation growth and therefore fire spread.
It was understood that within Gloucestershire, the most significant area at risk of wildfire was the Forest of Dean, which contained one of the few surviving ancient woodlands in England.
Members were informed that a comprehensive tactical plan had been developed to respond to wildfires in this area, with resources including four fire stations, a number of appliances and 4x4s. Additionally, high volume pumping equipment could be mobilised from across the service; GFRS could access Gloucestershire Constabulary’s drone; and a number of officers had attended a wildfire awareness course in November 2021.
Members noted that prevention activity included promoting messages about the risks of wildfires amongst local communities.
One member queried whether aircraft could be mobilised to help tackle a wildfire if required. In response, the CFO explained that GFRS was part of national assistance arrangements with its neighbours to provide support in the case of an incident, however he was unaware of an incident on the UK mainland having ever required the use of an aircraft. He explained that high volume pumping was effective over several miles and allowed for water to be continually pumped, unlike aircraft which would need to refuel and reload.
One member queried where the water to put wildfires out came from and about resources where ponds had dried up. The CFO responded that water could be taken from fire hydrants connected to the mains water supply. With regards to ponds, where asked, the Service had in the past used jets to oxygenate ponds.
One member asked whether temporary trenches could be dug around the forest. In response it was explained that agencies, such as the Forestry Commission, were responsible for managing these areas and would take measures to prevent wildfires.
Another member asked for clarification on the penalties for those deliberately or accidently starting wildfires. It was suggested, in response, that a briefing note be provided by the legal team on legislation relating to sanctions for causing wildfires.
To consider the latest GFRS performance data.
The report is to be taken as read. Members to ask any questions of officers.
Members were presented with the Quarter 1 2022/23 performance data.
One member observed that 65% of targets were worse than target and hoped that the data would improve for the next Quarter.
In response, the CFO advised that the targets they had been set were incredibly ambitious and that the Service, when compared nationally, was already performing better than average. He suggested that the Head of Prevention be asked to attend a future meeting of the Committee to talk about safe and well visits and provide assurance.
To consider the Committee work plan, and to suggest items for consideration at future meetings.
Members were reminded to attend the Fire Scrutiny Training Session on 5 October 2022. Members were also invited to speak to the LGA as part of its peer review of fire communications on 26 September.
The Committee noted that the Chair of the Improvement Board would be asked to attend a future meeting of the Committee, as would the Head of Prevention.
To note the meeting dates for the remainder of 2022 and for 2023 (all meetings to start at 10am:
11 November 2022
13 January 2023
10 March 2023
26 May 2023
14 July 2023
15 September 2023
10 November 2023
The dates of future meetings were noted.