Update on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s planning and preparedness for COVID-19
Findings - Opportunities
The pandemic provides a unique set of circumstance for creativity, innovation and to push forward/test new ways of working, in all business areas including operational response. The availability of staff to crew appliances along with the introduction of bubbles/clusters has meant that normal crew levels cannot always be achieved, and reduced crewing across more areas of the business have been forced upon the Service. We are aware that the Representative Bodies are not fully supportive of the changes to crewing levels going forward, however the opportunity this time period affords the SFRS to review its long term crewing arrangements should not be missed as it may assist dealing with future pressures.
The impact of these changes should be evaluated by the SFRS to identify potential organisational benefits and risks.
Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals (UFAS) continues to be the SFRS’s largest area of demand and its inclusion in the national framework as a key reduction priority for the Service. A number of changes to pre-determined attendance models have been utilised during this period, and we understand that the SFRS Senior Leadership Team are considering a number of proposals that will reduce the total number of UFAS calls to be attended. We would expect that the evidence collected during this period will inform decision making and will provide communities with the assurance of future risks. This is an opportunity for evidence based change that may not have been achieved if we were not living with C19.
The SFRS should look at amending the UFAS arrangements to reduce levels of demand, utilising evidence to inform any decision making.
The Service development programme is utilising maps and data overlays to identify risk, demand and levels of fire cover. The work of this group could influence future resource allocation.
The SFRS should use evidence and data to ensure resources are utilised in the most efficient and effective way.
We are aware of a number of new innovative and creative ways of working including;
- fire Safety enforcement visits being undertaken remotely.
- delivery of training and assessment within OC and at fire and rescue stations reducing the need for staff to travel and delays in getting staff competent.
- some low and medium Community Safety activities (HFSV) are being delivered virtually
New ways of working should be thoroughly evaluated to maximise opportunities to deliver better service
The use of technology and the infrastructure to support it will need to be improved, especially in the rural communities to ensure all the SFRS staff are able to benefit and deliver quality service. The speed of broadband connections is not in the control of the SFRS. It is evident that the benefits of using technology in the future will become more BAU.
The SFRS should ensure that the more rural parts of the country are not deprived of investment as these are areas that will assist the organisation increase performance.
Throughout the current pandemic the Service has developed a number of bespoke plans, many are for concurrent events that are needed for business continuity. It has been acknowledged that some planning assumptions did not materialise and ‘what was expected to happen did not’. The plans create a significant management workload and the SFRS is considering if future plans may be designed as frameworks providing guidance on outcomes or consequence management. This may be more suitable and may reduce the volume of documentation that staff need to digest, and the amount of management time to keep this updated.
The SFRS may wish to consider future plans being designed as frameworks providing guidance on outcomes or consequence management.