HM Fire Service Inspectorate in Scotland: Chief Inspector's Plan 2022 to 2025
Our Activity 2022-23
Health and Safety – An Operational Focus
The aim of this inspection was to look at the organisational culture towards Health, Safety and Welfare, whether Health and Safety is centred on firefighter safety and that operational staff understand, and can demonstrate, how the 'firefighter safety maxim' is being applied in the SFRS. The inspection team also considered how the Service is using national learning, data and other information to reduce risk and improve the overall safety and welfare of its staff.
The team looked at governance and management, policy and planning, training and recording arrangements.
Firefighting in High Rise Buildings
We commenced a thematic inspection into firefighting in high rise buildings in 2021. The inspection is considering how the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service prepares for and carries out this function. Aspects of this work which were considered as part of the inspection included:
- pre-planning and information gathering;
- operational procedures;
- training and awareness of staff;
- Operations Control procedures, including fire survival guidance;
- building checks and familiarisation visits by the Service;
- how the SFRS dealt with or is dealing with the recommendations from the Phase 1 Report of the Grenfell Inquiry; and
- how the SFRS is adapting to developments in high rise fire safety.
Inspection work has been ongoing during the year, and in line with other workstreams, Covid-19 restrictions have had an impact.
The work undertaken has included requesting and considering evidence from the Service, attending live play exercises, and field work visits to seven different local authority areas where we have examined some high rise inspection work, examined risk information and spoken with different categories of staff.
Mental Health and Well-being
There are many factors that can lead to issues of mental ill health. Problems of a financial nature, personal or family matters, relationship breakdowns or any number of other external issues can have an effect on our health and well-being and can have a negative impact on mental health.
Working within a frontline emergency service can of course be stressful and exposure to traumatic events can also have an adverse impact on the mental health and well-being of some staff.
The SFRS, as a responsible employer, is sighted on this issue and has recently published a Mental Health Strategy and given a commitment to support its staff and to provide a positive and inclusive culture for them to operate within.
We will give consideration to this issue and reflect on the appropriateness of current arrangements to support staff and reduce instances of mental ill health. We will consider the culture across a range of workplaces including fire stations, offices, control rooms and workshops to better understand and identify any barriers that may exist to achieve this desired open and inclusive approach.
We will examine available detail relative to mental ill health and speak to those directly involved in implementing change and improvement to understand the progress that has been made, and the journey ahead, with regard to mental health and well-being.
Operational Impact of Climate Change
The effects of climate change are of significant interest to governments and communities across the globe. The impact of weather related emergencies has been in the public eye for many years. News coverage of wildfires, flooding and the effects of water causing landslides and coastal erosion have become regular features for media outlets around the world.
The COP26 Climate Change Conference, held in Scotland in 2021, brought world leaders and experts to Glasgow to debate and discuss the impact, future approaches and develop potential agreements to tackle worldwide climate change.
The impact that weather-related incidents are having on the SFRS emergency response profile is already recognised by the Service. The number and scale of incidents that fall into this category is increasing in volume, and severity. The ability to predict these events, and the release of safety-related information to communities, will require organisations to develop greater data sharing arrangements and deliver a response plan with agreed priorities. This will affect the preparation, planning, exercising, equipment and training needed to respond.
We therefore plan on examining, how the Service seeks to understand, prepares for and delivers emergency response to incidents that can be classified as climate/weather-related events. Examples of such events might include wildfires, flooding and flood water, landslides and the impacts of storms and high winds. We will aim to identify any arrangements in place for forecasting any rise in activity levels that may be foreseeable and to understand how the Service will evolve to ensure it provides an adequate response to such events.