Climate Change: managing the operational impact on fires and other weather-related emergencies
Our Inspection Findings - 4.3 Other Issues - Community Asset Register
115. In 2009, after a series of water-related incidents, Paddy Tomkins QPM was commissioned by the Minister for Community Safety to prepare a report20 which included a focus on the resources and capabilities of agencies involved in water rescue emergencies including flooding. As a result, he identified the need for a register of shared assets to enhance “the important contribution that the voluntary section has and wishes to make”. His recommendation at that time was “each FRS in Scotland, working under the aegis of their respective [Strategic Coordinating Groups] SCGs, should be requested by Scottish Ministers, through the relevant Fire and Rescue Boards, to compile a public register of declared water rescue assets in the public, private and voluntary sectors (including individual private persons) to include a clear definition of the capability in each instance.”21
116. The Tomkins report was published before the inception of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. The eight legacy services became one in 2013 (the SFRS), and the recommendation to compile a register for each legacy FRS in Scotland by default became a recommendation to create one national register for Scotland.
117. The Community Asset Register (CAR) has become a Scottish database of resources and assets that are available to assist the response from Category 1 responders. The database was established by and is managed by the SFRS. The database includes a range of assets and capabilities (wider than water and flooding response), and includes assets whose services have been offered from both private and voluntary sectors.
118. Three quarters of recorded outdoor fires over 10,000m2 occur in the Highland LSO area and some FDOs interviewed from this area spoke of the CAR being utilised to assist with the SFRS’s response to wildfires.
119. In contrast, there were few examples provided of where the CAR has been utilised in other LSO Areas to assist with a response to incidents.
120. Most personnel we spoke to did not have an understanding of what assets may be available to them and did not appear confident in utilising the register. Some managers we spoke to were concerned about the command and control of these resources at incidents, particularly in the inner cordon.
121. Although the database has been designed for use by Category 1 responders and the SFRS has routinely communicated the availability of the CAR to partners at relevant forums, agencies other than the SFRS seldom utilise the register. The SFRS intends to re-establish a service level agreement with other Category 1 responders.
122. The CAR is generally under-utilised. The database is not accessible to operational incident commanders at incidents. Although OC staff can see what assets are on the register, they tend not to propose or suggest assets to incident commanders. OC staff generally rely on requests from the incident commander and then search the database and liaise with the asset holder to establish availability and journey time to the incident. The incident commander then decides whether or not to request the assistance of an asset.
123. Some examples of assets which may assist in climate change-related incidents are:
- Robo-cutters (for cutting a fire break at a wildfire incidents)
- Four wheel drive vehicles
- Welfare providers.
To realise the full potential of the community asset register (CAR), the SFRS should review arrangements in place and consider the feasibility of improving awareness and utilisation of assets, both internally and with Category 1 partners.
(The CAR has been the subject of separate recommendation in two of our other inspection reports.22)