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6. How we provide Assurance

We are committed to develop our service delivery and operational response, based upon self awareness of our own performance and continuous improvement within relevant key areas.

Operational Assurance
An important aspect for ensuring operational preparedness is having strong processes in place to monitor and review operational performance. We employ a range of processes to ensure that our procedures, actions and decision making at emergencies are effective and that we continuously learn from the situations we deal with. This includes at incident and post incident debriefing incorporating the use of incident video footage, tactical monitoring and thematic audits of operational incidents. Outcomes are fed into relevant management teams, to progress identified improvement areas.

Operational Assessment
The Fire and Rescue Service has a strong and long standing commitment to sector led improvement. As part of this, the Chief Fire Officers Association developed the concept of Operational Assessment in 2009, in partnership with the Local Government Association and the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser. This process, which has a strong operational focus, comprises a self assessment process, challenged through an external review by other fire and rescue service managers. It is designed to allow a “whole system” look at how a Fire and Rescue Authority leads, prioritises and delivers the interrelated functions of prevention, protection and response based upon:

• A deep understanding of community risk
• The allocation of resources in accordance with that risk
• The effective use of partnership working with other agencies to assist in managing the risk
• A high regard for operational good practice and the health, safety and development of all fire and rescue staff

Our last Operational Assessment took place in March 2013, we were assessed as ‘operationally effective and meeting our Statutory Duties’. The external assessors noted that our self-assessment had demonstrated good self-awareness of our strengths and weaknesses and that our Service is creative and innovative. The date of our next external peer assessment will be scheduled to take place after March 2016.

In 2016 responsibility for Fire and Rescue moved to the Home Office, we anticipate that self-assessment and peer challenge will be replaced with an independent inspection regime, similar to the approach taken for the Police.

Governance Audit and Scrutiny Committee (GAS)

The governance arrangements of the Authority including assisting the HFA in promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct by Members and Officers and generally assisting Members and Officers to observe the Members’ Code of Conduct.

Further information about the role of GAS Committee is available through this link Governance Audit and Scrutiny Committee. As well as the Minutes of the GAS Committee Meetings.

Internal Audit

The Fire Authority has a value added and outcome focused model of governance. This is reflected in the revised approach to internal audit that is designed to more effectively identify improvements that can be made by the Service. Mersey Internal Audit Agency (MIAA) are commissioned by the Fire Authority to plan and deliver a rolling three year programme of internal audit across themed areas. The plan takes into account the organisation’s strategic objectives and risks and previous internal audit coverage which is further developed through a process of stakeholder consultation. An Assurance Map has been produced by MIAA and can be viewed via this link MIAA HFA Assurance Map

Customer Service Excellence Award 

The Government requires public services to be efficient, effective, excellent, equitable and empowering, with the citizen always at the heart of public service provision. With this in mind Customer Service Excellence (CSE) was developed to offer public services a practical tool for driving customer-focused change within their organisation. The CSE standard tests, in great depth, those areas that research has

indicated are a priority for customers, with particular focus on delivery, timeliness, information, professionalism and staff attitude. There is also emphasis placed on developing customer insight, understanding the user’s experience and robust measurement of service satisfaction.

Following an on-site audit in February 2016, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service was again found to have a deep understanding of, and commitment to, Customer Service Excellence. The commitment was displayed from Senior Management levels through to operations and front line staff.

The formal Customer Service Excellence assessment report can be read on the Service website.

Operational Response – Business Continuity
The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 requires all Category 1 Responders, known as Core Responders, to produce business continuity plans to ensure that they can continue to provide their service in the event of an emergency. Core responders include:

• Fire and rescue services
• Police forces, including the British Transport Police
• Ambulance services
• HM Coastguard
• Local authorities
• Port health authorities
• NHS primary care trusts, NHS hospital trusts, NHS foundation trusts and the Health Protection Agency
• The Environment Agency

This is a legally binding Statutory Duty and includes all functions, not just emergency response. Therefore, all our critical service support and delivery departments have individual Business Continuity Plans. For example this includes things like the maintenance and testing of a standby ‘Secondary’ Control Room used in the event of the primary Control Room becoming unavailable. This will soon be overtaken by work that is progressing in partnership with Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Services to further develop the resilience of emergency call management and mobilising by working together to procure and develop systems and technology and share resources.

Our resilience to deal with events such as extreme weather or spate conditions is again critical. A number of HFRS premises have been affected by flooding and other events. Therefore to enhance the existing arrangements Local Recovery Plans are being formulated and implemented at individual CPU and station level. Another high priority area of Business Continuity for our organisation involves the maintenance of critical services throughout periods of staff shortage, for whatever reason this may occur. Staffing resilience for response to emergencies is a high priority and work has taken place to address this challenging issue, including:

• Development of a cadre of volunteer firefighters consisting of staff, who normally work in support roles, and volunteer members of the public who following appropriate selection and training maintain a state of operational preparedness. 
• Arrangements with local companies who operate works fire-fighting teams, to provide a response to key industrial sites on the South Humber Bank.
• Development of our non-operational staff, on a voluntary basis, to provide a limited operational support service.

Our compliance with the key aspects of the Civil Contingencies Act as a Category 1 Responder is formally documented within a Local Resilience Forum Annual Assurance Statement, signed by each of the member organisations.

Health, Safety & Environment
The health and safety of our employees, whether they work in a support role or as operational firefighters, is a high priority reflecting the Service’s commitment to provide a safe working environment wherever the Fire Authority’s business is undertaken. The Service recognise that the nature of effectively dealing with hazardous emergency situations means that it cannot be wholly risk averse nor excessively cautious. As a Fire and Rescue Service we face many unique challenges in applying health and safety principles. All of our employees receive health and safety training as part of a strategy to ensure they are conversant with their responsibilities and current legislation. The level of training is proportionate and appropriate for the different levels of responsibility within our organisation, including effective management of the inherent hazards and risks associated with responding to emergency incidents. Our Health and Safety management system is based upon the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ‘Successful Health and Safety Management Guidance’ (HSG65). Our Health and Safety General Policy Statement is reviewed and endorsed by the Chief Fire Officer every year. The Service has been a signatory organisation to the Health and Safety Executive strategy ‘The Health and Safety of Great Britain: Be a part of the solution’ and the following pledge:

• We agree to play our part in reducing the numbers of work-related deaths, injuries and ill-health in Great Britain
• Call on employers to put health and safety at the heart of what they do and to take a common sense approach to health and safety
• Commit to debunking myths around health and safety that trivialise the impact of injuries, ill health and deaths on individuals and their families
• Recognise the importance of health and safety in difficult economic times and the dangers of complacency
• Pledge to work with the Health and Safety Executive and its partners to Be Part of the Solution

Whilst the HSE has since withdrawn the strategy, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service will endeavour to continue to promote the pledge in its entirety.

Behavioural Safety and Cultural Safety will enable the Service to further improve its current safety record which will see a reduction in accidents and incidents and witness an increase in positive safety recording via such forums as near miss recording.

Annual Governance Statement and Statement of Operational Assurance
Assurance regarding our corporate governance, financial planning and operational service is provided via an Annual Governance and Operational Assurance Statement. In addition we have an open and transparent approach to the publication of financial, strategic planning and outcome based documentation, which is available on request or via our Website.

The Fire and Rescue Service National Framework Document
This Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) complies with the requirements for IRMPs described in the National Framework document.

The Fire and Rescue Service National Framework sets out HM Government’s priorities and objectives for Fire and Rescue Authorities in England:

  • To identify and assess the full range of foreseeable risks we face and make appropriate provision for prevention, protection and response activities
  • To work in partnership with our local communities and partner organisations
  • To be accountable to our local communities for the services we provide

The National Framework is available to download on the Department for Communities and Local Government website