Agenda and minutes

Fire and Rescue Scrutiny Committee - Friday 19 January 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Contact: Laura Powick  Email:

No. Item



To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 17 November 2023.

Additional documents:


2.1      The minutes of the meeting held on 17 November 2023 were approved as a correct record.



Members of the Committee are invited to declare any pecuniary or personal interests relating to specific matters on the agenda.


Please see note (a) at the end of the agenda.


3.1      There were no declarations of interest.


Government Response to the Fire Reform White Paper pdf icon PDF 152 KB

To receive an overview of the Government’s response to the Fire Reform White Paper.


Please see the link to the Government’s response below:


Reforming our fire and rescue service - GOV.UK (



4.1      Nathaniel Hooton, Deputy Chief Fire Officer (DCFO), provided the Committee with an overview of the Government’s response to the Fire Reform White Paper.


4.2      The White Paper was organised into the following three categories: People, Professionalism, and Governance. In its response it considered learning from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and findings from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), and was influenced by the more recent investigations into culture and leadership in Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs).


4.3      The Government received 290 responses to its consultation on the White Paper, which ran from 18 May until 26 July 2022.


4.4      In terms of the Government’s response to the consultation, it committed to introducing a professional College of Fire and Rescue to oversee standards and strengthen leadership; developing the provision for Chief Fire Officers (CFOs) to have operational independence; tasking the National Joint Council to review pay negotiation mechanisms; and addressing issues around integrity and culture.


4.5      FRSs were awaiting the delivery of proposed changes, which would be through a combination of legislation, revisions to the National Framework, and sector strategies and plans.


4.6      One member welcomed the Government’s decision to drop its proposal for mandatory transfers to the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner model. They queried whether any request for a transfer by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) within Gloucestershire would require the support of Gloucestershire County Council (GCC). In response, it was explained that that the PCC could make an independent business case, however it would be expected that they would engage with key stakeholders as part of the process.


4.7      The member further queried, in relation to Government proposals to improve the transparency of FRS budget allocations, whether a separate FRS budget would be pursued in Gloucestershire. In response, Cllr Dave Norman MBE, Cabinet Member for Fire, Community Safety, and Libraries, stated that the ringfencing of funding for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) would not be appropriate, and that it should remain part of the overall GCC budget. He highlighted the advantages of GFRS being part of the Council, including back-office support and shared working across directorates. He advised that it would be difficult to separate the elements within other directorate budgets relating to GFRS.


4.8      A member asked whether there were ongoing difficulties with the recruitment and retention of on-call fire fighters. It was advised that this was a national problem, and officers were engaged with regional and national groups looking at how to address the issue. Engagement with on-call firefighters also continued locally regarding their retention.


4.9      A member highlighted the importance of ensuring the proposed College of Fire and Rescue remained separate from the College of Policing. The Cabinet Member added that almost all FRSs across the Country supported the development of a professional college for firefighters and for it to be separate from the Police. The DCFO advised that details had not yet been confirmed regarding funding for the College.


4.10   Another member welcomed maintaining separate funding  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


GFRS's Service Plan within the Context of the Draft Budget 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To receive an overview of GFRS’s service plans within the context of the draft budget for 2024/25.



5.1      The DCFO provided an overview of GFRS’s service plans within the context of the draft budget for 2024/25.


5.2      The strategic direction of the Service was underpinned by the Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) 2022-26, which set out how resources would be matched to risks within the County through key objectives. Further details on the objectives could be found in the report attached to the agenda for this meeting.


5.3      To provide the context for GFRS’s strategic direction, it was explained that HMICFRS had reported areas for improvement across the Service, and the GFRS Improvement Board at GCC had been established to assist and support improvements. Additionally, the Fire Standards Board oversaw the implementation of the 16 Fire Professional Standards across FRSs in England. It was also noted that at a local level, GFRS had developed risk-based evidence profiles to ensure that the right resources were implemented at the right time in the right place, and to identify those most at risk and the most vulnerable in society.


5.4      Members were informed that the net revenue budget for GFRS for 2024/25 totalled £21.964m, including £936k for pay inflation costs. £4.596m had been allocated to capital schemes for new appliances and equipment.


5.5      It was confirmed that £11.5m was allocated within the budget to fund the ‘everyday’ delivery of the Service. However, a significant proportion of the budget enabled GFRS to carry out its wider work.


5.6      Clarification was sought regarding inflationary pay pressures. It was explained that a 4-6% pay increase for Fire Service staff was expected in the upcoming financial year, which needed to be factored into the budget. It was also confirmed that over the last few years, the Service had seen an increase in around 40 posts, mainly in support services.


5.7      There was a discussion around the thermal imaging cameras the Service was intending to purchase. Members were informed that thermal imaging cameras ranged from basic models to more technologically advanced models, however, based on the consideration of firefighter and community safety, it was proposed to install 2-3 cameras of appropriate size and scale on each of the 32 appliances used by GFRS. 


5.8      It was noted that GFRS was challenging itself to improve on its future capital planning, to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the Service.

5.9      It was confirmed that fire appliances were built in the UK using imported raw materials.


5.10   The safety of firefighters and the community was paramount when it came to the purchasing of new equipment.


5.11   A member asked what happened to old equipment and appliances, noting that in the past, equipment which continued to be serviceable had been sent to other parts of the world where it was needed, such as Chile and the Ukraine. It was explained, in response, that clear guidelines relating to asset management and disposal were followed. The Cabinet Member confirmed that the Council had a responsibility for correctly disposing of assets in line with polices, however, if a need was identified  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Improvement Board Progress Update

To receive a verbal Improvement Board progress update, including the outcomes of the November inspection.


6.1      The DCFO provided a verbal update on Improvement Board progress.


6.2      It was noted that there had not been a further Improvement Board meeting since the last Committee update in November 2023, however assurance was given that the Service continued to address the 44 outstanding actions. The next Improvement Board meeting would take place on 6 February, and a more comprehensive update would be provided to the Committee at its meeting in March 2024.


6.3      It was advised, in response to a query, that the focus of the Improvement Board, which had originally been established to address the cause of concerns identified in the 2021 HMICFRS inspection, would need to be reviewed once these concerns had been addressed.


6.4      It was requested that Pete Bungard, Chief Executive of GCC, be invited to attend the next Committee meeting to present the update as the new Chair of the Improvement Board.


ACTION – Laura Powick



WORK PLAN pdf icon PDF 70 KB

To review the committee work plan and suggest items for consideration at future meetings.


When making suggestions, members should consider the reasons for and expected benefit of, scrutiny’s involvement.


For reference, please find the link to the Cabinet forward plan below:


Forthcoming Decisions (



7.1      The following items were added to the Committee’s work plan:

·         An update on the CRMP, halfway through its timescale.

·         An item on the impact of the new Government on Fire and Rescue Services, following the General Election.

ACTION – Laura Powick


7.2      Representatives from the Police and Ambulance Service to be invited to the May 2024 meeting to contribute to the item on blue light services collaboration.


ACTION – Laura Powick


7.3      A lead member meeting to be scheduled to discuss the work plan for the Committee.


ACTION – Laura Powick




To note the date of future meetings (all meetings to start at 10am):


8th March 2024

24th May 2024

19th July 2024

13th September 2024

7 November 2024.


8.1      The Committee noted the dates of future meetings.