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Fire and rescue service attends more than 5,000 incidents across Norfolk in a year

24 July 2020

Firefighters across Norfolk attended more than 5,000 incidents across the county last financial year. A report highlighting the performance of Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service will be presented to Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet on Monday 3 August.

The Statement of Assurance report gives details of the service, including financial management, staffing levels, performance and collaboration work, in 2019-2020.

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships, said: “Our service has had a busy year, being involved in a diverse range of incidents and preventative work, strengthening collaborative working arrangements with blue light services and other partners.

“This Statement of Assurance shows the continued commitment to protecting Norfolk and keeping our communities safe.”

Each year, key priorities for the service are to:

  • Reduce fires, improve road and water safety
  • Ensure operational readiness and firefighter safety
  • Improve the availability and response times of fire engines
  • Develop a diverse and high performing workforce

Among the updates noted in the report are:

Protection/ Prevention during 2019-20:

3,929 Home Fire Risk Checks were carried out, these are safety visits for vulnerable people designed to make them safer at home. As well as fitting smoke alarms where required, the checks include discussions around other safety risks such as smoking, falls prevention and wellbeing, in partnership with Public Health partners.

975 fire safety audits were carried out of non-domestic buildings, to ensure compliance with fire safety regulations. (Increase of 310 audits from 18-19)

47 post-fire investigations (inspections and audits) to support business resilience, including enforcements and prosecutions where required.

6,000+ children benefited from the fire service led multi-agency Crucial Crew safety events, with education themes including water, fire, road, electrical and personal safety and first aid.

400+ community safety events across Norfolk, including water safety awareness, arson reduction, road safety and community education.

130 young people (aged 16-25) took part in the Team personal development programme, with 75% moving straight into further education, training or employment.

Response during 2019-20:

Firefighters attended more than 5,000 incidents across Norfolk. The total number, 5029, was the lowest number in the last four years and included reductions in false alarms, road traffic collisions and other special services.

The number of fires attended (2249) was significantly down on 2018-19  when the service had seen a spike in incidents due to prolonged hot weather wildfires (2604 fires) .

There were 418 accidental fires in the home in 2019-20, which sadly resulted in three fatalities and 27 fire related injuries (down from 50 in 2018-19)

There were 184 non-domestic building fires, resulting in 0 fatalities but four people being injured.

There were 785 deliberate fires (down from 859 the previous year), as well as arson this includes fires that are intentional but become out of control (for example bonfires and controlled burning)

Firefighters attended 650 road traffic collisions, which involved releasing 185 people trapped in vehicles.

The service attended 1728 ‘special service’ incidents which includes flooding, releasing trapped people or animals and calls to assist other agencies.

Firefighters attended 74.3% of calls within the target emergency response standard time, against a target of 80%. The changing nature and location of calls, with an increase in rural callouts and a continued drive to recruit on-call firefighters to remote areas, continues to affect the ability of the service to meet this target. This is a particular focus for target setting in 2020-21.

Finance during 2019-20:

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service operated on a revenue budget of £27.4m, which is 7% of Norfolk County Council’s overall net revenue budget.

There was a £0.426m overspend, attributed to increased training needs for new and existing firefighters.

The service has an agreed £9.7m capital programme to be spent over the three years to 2022 and this will enable major purchases such as new fire vehicles. (Some of which have since been introduced in July 2020).

For the final few weeks of the financial year, the service began discussions which led to staff picking up additional duties to support other emergency services, and also worked with other partners on a collective Norfolk response to the pandemic. This highlighted the service’s willingness to adapt and diversify to meet the needs of communities across the county, with changes to workloads ensuring our fire and rescue service remained relevant, capable and agile to the rapidly changing demands on Norfolk's critical services during the outbreak.

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service operates from 42 fire stations across Norfolk, with 33 being solely reliant on on-call staff. At March 2020, the service had 273 wholetime firefighters and 451 on-call firefighters.

The service is recruiting on-call firefighters to help drive down emergency response times and is looking for people who live or work within five minutes of an on-call station to consider joining the service.

There is also currently a recruitment drive to fill 16 wholetime vacancies across the service.

For more details about a career as a firefighter, or for safety advice and information for your home or business, visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/fire

Cabinet will have an online, virtual meeting at 10am on Monday, 3 August. View the papers and get the link to the meeting.

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