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Operational Assessment Report

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Operational Assessment Report

    Operational Assessment Report

    September 2006

Fire and Rescue

    Operational Assessment of Service Delivery

    Hampshire Fire & Rescue Authority

Contents

    Executive Summary ...................................................................................................... 2 The Assessment process ............................................................................................. 3 Overview of the “Key themes” and “observations” ........................................................ 4

    Key Lines of Enquiry Strengths & Areas for Improvement ......................................... 6

    Risk Analysis ............................................................................................................. 7

    Prevention and Protection ......................................................................................... 9

    Operational Preparedness ...................................................................................... 12

    Call Management and Incident Support .................................................................. 15

    Emergency Response ............................................................................................. 18 Scoring matrix and judgement descriptions ................................................................ 21

88941356.docFinal Report 1

    Executive Summary

    1. In the Fire and Rescue Performance Framework for 2006/07 published in July 2006, the Government outlines how performance management in the fire and rescue service will be assessed by the Audit Commission. This written feedback arises from an operational assessment of service delivery review carried out as outlined in chapter six of the Performance Framework. It gives the results from our review of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority. We used the methodology published by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in the Operational Assessment of Service Delivery toolkit in July 2006.

    2. Our on-site work took place in September 2006 by a team of staff seconded from Fire and Rescue Authorities. We received a self assessment from the Fire Authority which sign-posted evidence to support the five key lines of enquiry outlined in the toolkit. The teams reviewed the self assessment including the sampling of evidence on site and then made a judgement as to whether the self assessment score should be upheld or whether an alternative judgement should be recommended. The judgements we have made are based on the evidence we saw before and during our visit, and on any further information supplied to us by the Fire Authority during our discussions with them in the course of preparing this report.

    3. Operational Assessment of Service Delivery is an operational assessment, at the service level, of how well the Authority is planning, organising and delivering its operational services. It does not give an opinion on how well the fire service is being run corporately.

    4. In their self-assessment, the FRA rated itself as performing strongly. As a consequence of the review, the FRA self assessment key area scores have been changed in places and one KLOE score has been amended. This did not affect the overall judgement.

     performing strongly. The FRA is rated by this assessment as

    5. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) is performing strongly in the areas of Prevention and Protection, Operational Preparedness, and Call Management and Incident Support. There is clear empowerment of middle managers to make decisions in the way prevention and protection resources are used to maximise performance. Resources are targeted at clear objectives linked to HFRS‟ Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP). In Operational Preparedness, there are clear policies for civil protection and a range of effective measures for monitoring and measuring performance. There are evident strengths in the provision of the technical infrastructure, systems and human resources required to sustain Call Management and Incident Support arrangements. HFRS are performing well in Risk Analysis, with tangible outcomes in the relocation of resources. Flexibility in response and resource deployment is a strength within Emergency Response, in which HFRS are performing well. Constant monitoring of resources enables HFRS to meet its attendance time to emergency incidents with the most appropriate resources to address risk. Overall, HFRS is a strongly performing FRA, with a clear heath and safety culture and a strong commitment to equality and diversity.

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     The Assessment process

    6. Before the site visit, the review team reviewed the FRAs self-assessment and other FRA information such as the FRAs Integrated Risk Management Plan and Best Value Performance Plan. The team spent a day together sharing their views on the self-assessment, finalising the details of the visit and agreeing how to follow the lines of enquiry on-site.

    7. The review team customised their approach to the on-site fieldwork, and their subsequent requests for evidence, based upon the performance levels indicated in the FRAs self assessment. They used a range of techniques to verify their findings including the use of standard diagnostics and question sets where appropriate.

    8. The review team spent four days on site with the FRA. During this time, they;

    a. conducted interviews and focus groups with service delivery personnel and

    the senior management team

    b. visited a number of wholetime and retained fire stations

    c. reviewed a substantial number of documents and other evidence provided by

    the FRA

    d. spoke to partners and other stakeholders

    9. The review team based their on-site work around evidence of the current levels of performance outlined in the Operational Assessment of Service Delivery Toolkit. These are described as follows;

1 Failure to meet level 2 criteria.

    2 Level 2 performance represents a minimum requirement, and will need to be

    in place before the FRA can be considered for level 3.

    3 To achieve level 3 performance, FRAs must have all arrangements described

    at level 2 in place. The arrangements should be embedded and operating

    effectively with clear outcomes representing a more demanding test than for

    level 2. The FRA should also have the majority of level 3 performance criteria

    in place or, where there are gaps, have made substantial progress towards

    meeting them.

    4 An FRA that is performing strongly will need to demonstrate that it meets all of

    the criteria for level 2 and level 3, and that its arrangements are embedded

    and have a clear impact on outcomes. In addition to fully meeting level 2 and

    3 criteria, evidence to support achievement of level 4 needs to demonstrate

    innovation or notable practice which delivers tangible results and can be

    shared with other authorities.

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Overview of the “Key themes” and “observations”

    10. Prior to on-site activity, a detailed review of the self assessment document, context

    statement and additional background information available from DCLG and publicly

    on the Service‟s website was carried out. Where contactable, local Health and Safety

    Executive liaison officer, the regional Business Change Manager and the Audit

    Commission Relationship Manager were consulted in order to establish an external

    view on developments relevant to their areas of interest. The review was carried out

    with team members responsible for specific KLOEs, with pairing of KLOEs as

    appropriate. During the pre-site meeting, the review team identified a number of

    areas requiring further investigation.

11. HFRS‟ self assessment followed the DCLG template with regard to KLOEs, key

    areas of enquiry and scoring. However, the initial submission was in excess of the

    specified word count. The distilled version was made available to the team one week

    prior to the field visit. This meant that the review team experienced some initial

    difficulties reconciling the two versions. Within both versions, evidence was

    presented of activities or initiatives that had either just happened and were not yet

    embedded, or were planned and had not yet been implemented. HFRS were

    advised that although this would be considered, developments after the submission

    date would not be taken into account for the purposes of scoring.

    12. The risk analysis self assessment presented evidence of strengths in the relocation

    of resources to meet the needs of the community. There were a number of

    statements regarding electronic performance management systems and information

    databases, however these seemed to be very recent developments and the extent to

    which they were embedded became area of focus.

    13. Pre-site activity within Prevention and Protection resulted in a focus on the three key

    themes of partnership working, the delivery on Home Fire Risk Checks (HFRCs) and

    links made with the business community in relation to Regulatory Reform Order (RRO)

    and automatic fire alarm call reduction. There was a strong partnership theme in the

    self-assessment, which presented good evidence of engagement with a diverse

    community and provision of services. There was evidence of little reduction in the

    number of false alarms in both the current and previous four years.

    14. The Operational Preparedness self-assessment presented evidence relating to

    service orders and operational bulletins as well as its leading role in delivering New

    Dimensions and Resilience expectations. The focus of the review was on these areas

    coupled with the collation and availability of operational risk information, work with

    key partners and the approach to workforce development.

    15. The Call Management and Incident Support self assessment identified strong

    performance across all areas. Areas of note included up to date technology, business

    continuity planning, development training and maintenance of skills for staff, the

    measurement of performance, and the arrangements for auditing control room

    activities.

    16. Within Emergency Response, there was strong evidence of the flexibility for

    deployment of resources in accordance with identified changes in risk. Innovative 88941356.docFinal Report 4

    ways of dealing with secondary fires and the ability to deploy firefighter resources in

    providing co-responder in partnership provided key themes for the site visit.

    17. In all KLOEs, except Call Management and Incident Support, HFRS self assessed

    itself lower in audit and review than other key areas. In some KLOEs, there was

    limited evidence presented in this area. This suggested an area for development and

    became a focus for the field team.

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     Key Lines of Enquiry Strengths & Areas for Improvement

    18. The Operational Assessment of Service Delivery looks at the five main areas of

    service delivery. These are called “key lines of enquiry” (KLOE) and are organised

    under the headings of risk analysis, prevention and protection, operational

    preparedness, call management and incident support, and emergency response.

    Each KLOE is examined and scored against the HS(G) 65 format of policy,

    organising, planning and implementation, monitoring (performance) and audit and

    review. This acts as a control loop and ensures that each KLOE stands alone, and is

    considered in a rounded manner both by the FRA and the DCLG review team.

    19. Whilst on-site with the FRA, the review teams examined a broad range of evidence in

    order to verify the FRAs self assessment score or to make alterations accordingly. In

    writing up their findings, the review team focused on identified strengths and areas

    for improvement in order for the FRA to further recognise what they are doing well, or

    not so well. Where areas of notable practice or innovation have been identified and

    attract a “performing strongly” score in one key area or more, these have been

    highlighted in bold throughout the document.

    20. Hampshire FRA is performing at the following levels in relation to the five service

    delivery KLOEs;

    Performing well Risk Analysis

    Performing strongly Prevention and Protection

    Performing strongly Operational Preparedness

    Performing strongly Call Management and Incident Support

    Performing well Emergency Response

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Risk Analysis

    21. HFRS scored itself as performing well in Risk Analysis with three out of five key

    areas being scored at this level or higher. The review team found sufficient evidence

    to support this view in relation to the overall KLOE score. However, it found

    insufficient evidence to support this score in the key areas of Policy and Audit and

    Review. There was a lack of evidence to demonstrate that arrangements were

    embedded and operating effectively with clear outcomes. The score in these two key

    areas were reduced from performing well to performing adequately. This had no

    impact on the overall KLOE score which remains unchanged as performing well. Strengths and areas of notable practice

    22. HFRS are key players in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum.

    Their work in developing a template for the Community Risk Register has been

    recognised as best practice by the Emergency Planning College. As a result,

    HFRS is at the forefront in this area of planning.

    23. There is good evidence of a clear understanding of the disposition of fire appliances

    within the county. The strategic disposition of appliances has been plotted to take

    into account a number of scenarios where operational resources are reduced, with

    the remainder being relocated to provide optimum response. This foresight means

    HFRS is well prepared for such scenarios.

    24. The risk analysis process has produced tangible outcomes for HFRS.

    Individual analyses, such as the Emergency Cover Review South, have

    informed a number of response trials. These trials involve both the relocation

    of resources to areas where they can be better placed to cover the risk and

    alternative options such as a first response vehicle. The trials follow extensive

    research both from a computer based and practical approach involving

    representative bodies. As a result resources are now being relocated, and

    response options altered in direct response to the results of the risk analysis

    process.

    25. Existing and potential risks to firefighters are identified through a robust health and

    safety process. The inclusion of a member of the FRA’s insurance company on

    its health and safety committee has lead to tangible savings on the annual

    premium and is recognised as notable practice in this area.

    26. HFRS takes equality and diversity very seriously and this can be evidenced in its

    comprehensive equality policy. In particular, the responsibilities under the Race

    Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 are strongly adhered to, and this is evidenced by

    HFRS‟ race equality scheme. With regard to policy development, equality impact

    assessments are undertaken covering all appropriate areas.

    Areas for improvement

    27. In the key area of policy, HFRS self assessed itself as performing well. During the

    field visit the team found that, whilst risk analysis is embedded within the culture of

    HFRS, there is no overarching risk management policy consolidating the assessment

    of existing and potential risk within the communities of Hampshire. The requirements

    of such a policy are captured in several separate documents, such as the IRMP

    2006/09, the departmental medium-term plans and the corporate risk management

    strategy and policy. The integration of existing policies into a specific risk analysis 88941356.docFinal Report 7

    policy, with additional emphasis on the risk analysis process and the risk reduction

    activities to support the management of risk, would help to enhance the

    understanding of staff and further focus the organisation in this key area. As a result

    the score in this area is revised to adequate performance.

    28. In the key area of audit and review, HFRS self assessed itself as performing well.

    During the field visit, the team were unable to find evidence that a systematic

    performance based audit system is in place to improve the risk assessment process

    and there is no explicit audit and review of the risk analysis process as a whole. As a

    result the score in this area is revised to adequate performance.

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Prevention and Protection

    29. HFRS scored itself as performing strongly in Prevention and Protection with four out

    of five key areas being scored this way. The review team found sufficient evidence to

    support this view in relation to the overall KLOE score, but found insufficient evidence

    to support this score in relation to the key area of Monitoring (Performance). There

    was a lack of evidence to demonstrate innovation or notable practice leading to

    tangible results which could be shared with other FRAs. The score in this key area

    was therefore reduced from performing strongly to performing well. This had no

    impact on the overall KLOE score which remains unchanged at performing strongly.

Strengths and areas of notable practice

    30. HFRS have a clear and effective policy to ensure resources within prevention

    and protection are directed to target areas and to ensure the successful

    achievement of its IRMP objectives. HFRS have significant involvement with

    partner organisations in order to deliver prevention and protection services.

    This has lead to HFRS only engaging with partners where there will be a clear

    measurable outcome in community safety terms. These have been subject to

    close scrutiny by both internal and external organisations in order to ensure that

    resources are directed to achieving the corporate aims identified within its IRMP. In

    July 2005, HFRS commissioned external auditors to undertake a review of

    effectiveness of its current partnership arrangements and make recommendations on

    improvements. This was completed in April 2006 and recommendations are being

    implemented.

    31. There is clear acceptance of responsibility for delivering the corporate aims

    and objectives of HFRS. Group and station managers are fully empowered to

    make decisions for both financial and physical resources. Support mechanisms

    are in place at group and station level to provide support through coaching and

    mentoring in order to deliver a successful community safety strategy.

    32. HFRS have set an ambitious target of ensuring that every household in Hampshire

    has a working smoke alarm by 2010. This requires an average installation rate of

    20,000 smoke detectors per year. This is being achieved by clear targeting of both

    risk and resources. HFRS are utilising partners, specialist staff, wholetime and

    retained crews to deliver this. Clear targets are set for crews in achieving this priority.

    An area of notable practice is the use of specialist teams of community

    outreach workers. These teams are used to engage with minority groups and

    are available to assist crews with language and customs which leads to very

    effective engagement with minority groups. Evidence was available showing

    operational staff working closely with Outreach workers to reach minority

    communities.

    33. Responsibility for HFRS representation on crime reduction partnerships is delegated

    to group managers. Work at group and station level is targeted at primary and

    secondary fires. Performance indicators show that a significant reduction in both has

    been achieved in the past 12 months. There is good evidence that local

    councillor engagement provides a significant benefit to the preventative work

    undertaken by HFRS staff. The use of members is structured and within a 88941356.docFinal Report 9

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