Making Surrey Safer - Our Plan for 2020 - 2024



Welcome to our plan

Fire and rescue services in England are constantly striving to ensure that every pound of your money invested in us adds maximum value to your communities. The government's fire and rescue reform programme sets out a clear direction of travel and highlights the challenges we will face in this journey. This is reinforced by a new statutory inspection regime which checks on our improvement progress, and a refreshed Fire and Rescue National Framework for England which explains how our work is changing, in particular the number of fires that we are called to is dramatically reducing.

Surrey County Council, our Fire and Rescue Authority, has set out a new vision for Surrey in 2030, placing greater emphasis on prevention, services for vulnerable people, and the need for greater collaboration with partners.

Fire and Rescue Services play a crucial role in making our communities safer, whether it be preventing and protecting people from fire and other risks or responding swiftly to the emergencies that occur.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) inspection last year highlighted that Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is not doing enough to protect people or prevent emergencies from happening, so we will be doing more of this in the future. We also need to ensure that we are providing an efficient, effective, accountable and transparent service that is reflective of the diverse community we serve.

Most significantly, our plan sets out how we intend to refocus our resources to increase our work with communities and businesses to prevent emergencies from happening, whilst also responding more efficiently when they do, with the aim of leaving no-one behind. Our vision is to make Surrey a safer place to live, work, travel and do business.

Thank you for your feedback which has helped shape our plan. We are confident that this plan will ensure we are best placed to meet your expectations of a modern fire and rescue service.

Purpose of this plan

The Fire and Rescue National Framework for England requires Fire and Rescue Authorities to produce an Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP). Our plan is called "Making Surrey Safer - Our plan for 2020-2024".

The plan sets out our priorities to keep you safe in Surrey, improving how we deliver services to ensure our communities are safer, whether it be preventing and protecting people from fire and other risks, or responding swiftly and effectively to the emergencies that occur. It also is our plan for how the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service responds to the changes and challenges we face.

Over the past decade we have seen a significant decrease - almost half - in the number of fires attended across the UK. This suggests that, as a society, we are becoming safer than ever from the risks and consequences of fire.

This decrease can be attributed to many factors, including in part the prevention and protection work that Fire and Rescue Services deliver day in, day out, up and down the country. We know in Surrey we need to do more of these types of activities, not only to continue the downward trend in fires but also to address the increase in fatalities in the water and as a result of road accidents. We must do more to keep people, especially the most vulnerable in our communities, as safe from fire and other risks as possible. In many cases, this means engaging effectively with other agencies to work together to better protect and improve the outcomes for these individuals.

Making Surrey Safer Our plan for 2020 to 2024, amongst other things, sets out how we will respond to:

  • The Community Vision for Surrey in 2030. The Vision emphasises the need for prevention activities to improve outcomes for residents.
  • Our recent HMICFRS inspection, highlighted areas we need to continue working on to make us more effective and efficient in the ways we keep people safe from fires and other risks, particularly how we use our resources to do so

This plan sets out how we will:

  • Do more to prevent emergencies from happening in Surrey
  • Make sure we have the right resources in the right places at the right time to respond when you need us
  • Continuously look at ways that we can improve what we do so we are as effective and as efficient as we can be
  • Continue to strengthen our approach to collaboration with our partners
  • Invest in our people to make sure they have the best training and development and are as motivated as possible
  • Create a culture that is collaborative, inclusive and diverse so that we maximise our understanding of our communities' needs

New ways of working

This document outlines how our Fire and Rescue Service is going to operate. By working differently we can be more efficient and effective. Our new ways of working means:

More prevention work to keep communities safe

When our firefighters and fire engines aren't needed at 999 calls, we will be undertaking preventative activities i.e. teaching you how to be safe around water, preventing fires from occurring and working with businesses to understand their legal responsibilities as a business owner.

Much of this is done during the day when people are at school, work, home and most active in the community. Some of this will also be done by our teams at night.

More resilience and firefighter training

We need 20 fire engines during the day and 16 at night to keep Surrey safe. We will have more fire engines than we need - five more during the day and seven more at night-time, this additional capacity allows extra resilience for larger and longer emergencies as well as training and practice in the increasing variety of emergencies we now respond to.

More on-call firefighters

To be an on-call firefighter you need to live or work within four minutes of our on-call fire stations so you can get there quickly. This means it's often difficult to recruit on-call firefighters, especially in Dunsfold and Gomshall.

We are expanding the catchment area for firefighters at some of our on-call areas, including Dunsfold and Gomshall, so that we will attract more people to our service. Any increased time taken to reach the fire station by on-call firefighters will be factored into our operations and will not affect our response standard.

More investment in business and community safety

We want to be able to invest more money in prevention and protection activities via our business

and community safety services. The more prevention and protection work we do, the less we will need to respond. By ensuring we have the right allocation of resources to meet the needs of Surrey, we can reinvest in prevention and protection activities.

Charging for non-statutory services

We are also looking at charging for some incidents we attend such as false reports of fire

(hoax calls and automatic fire alarms that aren't real) and animal rescues, to re-invest into our service. Wherever possible, we will work with partners, business and animal owners, for example the National Farmers' Union, to avoid the need to respond to these types of incidents at all, handing them over to the responsible person(s); this will avoid the need for a charge to be made.

Our finances

The total budget for the Fire and Rescue Service for 2019/2020 is £34.9m. The majority of this is spent on staffing.

Our commitments

To spend more time on business and community safety to help prevent emergencies occurring in the first place.

Why we are doing it

To educate people and businesses about the risks of fire and other emergencies and how to prevent them

What this means

  • We will prevent more emergencies occurring in the first place
  • We will make every contact with you count
  • We will do more Safe and Well visits for vulnerable people
  • We will deliver fire safety messages from school age to adulthood
  • We will work more closely with businesses, district and borough councils and partners to improve business safety

To maintain the number of fire stations in Surrey and change how some of them are crewed.

Why we are doing it

  • To manage our resources more efficiently and effectively, focusing resources to protect those at higher risk
  • We aim to provide a service offer that is broader than solely 'time to respond' and recognise that the urban and rural response is different
  • We will establish new measures based upon business and community safety activity (a core element of our future offer) as well as response

What this means

We are changing the way we work in the Banstead, Camberley, Egham, Fordbridge, Guildford, Haslemere, Painshill, Walton, Woking, Dunsfold and Gomshall areas

To recover costs from some incident attendances.

Why we are doing it

  • We are sometimes called to incidents that are not emergencies, such as freeing trapped animals and persistent false automatic fire alarms
  • The introduction of the Localism Act 2011 increased the scope for recovering costs for emergencies we respond to that turn out to be non-emergencies

What this means

We are exploring charging for some services such as persistent false alarms and animal rescues and re-invest this in SFRS. We will balance our statutory obligations to ensure we act ethically, humanitarianly and maintain our values and standards.

Understanding community risks

The recently developed 'National Fire Chiefs Council Person Centred Approach' is a step forward in recognising how risk changes for individuals and families throughout their life and standardising the Fire and Rescue Service offer across England and devolved administrations. We want to take this further and recognise that the places where people live, work, travel and enjoy recreation also have a part to play. We will develop a widereaching approach to managing risk, not just in the home and workplace, but in every place where we can influence behaviour and encourage a safer attitude and environment.

Understanding our risk

We used our Community Risk Profile 2021 to assess all foreseeable fire and rescue related risks that could affect our communities in Surrey. This includes our biggest risks for the types of emergencies we respond to and other factors, including understanding where the most vulnerable people are. We use this information, alongside national and local statistics, to decide how best to allocate our resources to prevent these risks from happening, and plan how to best respond to them if they do. This also enables us to focus our prevention activities to the areas where they are most needed and have most impact.

Please note: the Community Risk Profile 2021 document has been replaced with the current version: Community Risk Profile (PDF) and guidance within this document may have changed.

Some risks require us to work with partners including other emergency services, health providers, local authorities and other partner agencies. These come together through the Surrey Local Resilience Forum (SLRF) which prepares and plans for a range of emergencies across Surrey.

Risks associated with people

A number of factors might make someone more or less vulnerable to emergencies, particularly fire. We need to ensure that the people within Surrey are safe, we identify those that are most at risk and where we can, undertake prevention and protection activities to reduce the risk.

The most vulnerable and at greatest risk of fire tend to have at least one of the following characteristics:

  • aged over 60
  • living alone
  • mobility issues
  • hearing loss
  • mental health issues
  • disability
  • drug or alcohol dependency
  • a smoker

There is a clear link between age and vulnerability, with many of the vulnerabilities listed being more likely to occur with age. Additionally, Surrey has an aging population with over 82,000 residents being over 65 and living alone, a figure expected to rise by 34% by 2030. The number of people with alcohol and drug dependencies is also forecast to rise by 4% by 2030.

As more people are supported to live in their own home for longer, the risks increase for those who are vulnerable. For example, people with mobility issues may find it harder to self-rescue and may suffer from slips and falls. Our work needs to better focus on the most vulnerable in our county, through both prevention and protection activities to reduce the risks to them, as well as help them understand what to do in an emergency.

Risks associated with places

We respond to a diverse range of risks in Surrey. They range from road traffic collisions to local fires to major disasters. As a Fire and Rescue Service we continue to work across the wide and diverse range of places we have in Surrey. Understanding the risks and learning from others to ensure we continue to minimise and prevent risks occurring in the first instance is a priority, while always being ready to respond if the risks do occur.

Surrey has a diverse range of buildings, each potentially have different risks. We have homes that are at risk of flooding and we also have a number of green spaces that may be at risk from wildfire. We have many listed buildings and heritage sites in the county, as well as a range of industrial and commercial buildings. We have manufacturing plants, fuel farms, laboratories and research sites.

The transport networks in Surrey are constantly developing. The county has around 3,452 miles of road which carry almost double the national average amount of traffic. We have a number of small airfields within our borders, and Heathrow, Gatwick and Farnborough airports are close by.

Community Safety

We will make every contact with you count

Our Community and Business Safety strategy sets out how we try and prevent emergencies from happening. We use our Community Risk Profile to target our prevention and protection activities where it will make the biggest difference. We aim to educate people about fire and other risks and how to prevent them. We also work with businesses to ensure that the buildings they use reach the required fire safety standards.

Preventing emergencies – community safety

We can do more to prevent emergencies from happening and reduce our community risks via the most appropriate use of resources.

Our community safety activity focuses on a number of areas:

  • Do even more Safe and Well visits for vulnerable people and expand the content to make every contact count and keep people as safe as possible in their homes
  • On our roads within Surrey - we engage with road users to highlight the risks of dangerous or careless driving
  • Better integration of our fire stations and other premises into local communities for community use where appropriate
  • Creating a 'centrally led, locally delivered' approach, that better aligns our teams with areas of risk within Surrey and develops consistency across the county in how we deliver our services to ensure we keep our residents as safe as possible
  • Improving the way we collect and share intelligence so we can better identify the people in our communities who are the most vulnerable and provide the right support to keep them safe
  • Broadening the kind of emergencies we aim to prevent so it is more than just fires and road traffic collisions, to include water and wildfire safety work
  • Introduce a 'lifelong learning' concept to deliver key safety advice and information throughout resident's lives via schools, colleges and universities as well as adult learning centres and other organisations where groups of individuals meet up (particularly our known vulnerable groups)
  • Expand our Surrey Fire Volunteer Service
  • Work with partner agencies to drive down serious organised crime, hate crime and other partner priorities, where it aligns to our activity and the risks we intend to reduce
  • Work with partner agencies which includes tackling social issues together in partnership and we have a responsibility to raise a concern when we see one. We know that people with drug or alcohol dependency problems are at greater risk of having a fire. We support our partners with their work on preventing problematic drug and alcohol use.

Protecting people and property - business safety

Our business safety activity focuses on supporting business and business owners within our community. We work with businesses to ensure that they have effective fire safety management to protect people and property. Our business safety activity also protects the safety of our firefighters, should they need to respond to a fire in a building, by understanding the risks of specific buildings before an emergency happens.

There are approximately 85,000 business premises in Surrey covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO). This is the main piece of legislation that we have a duty to enforce. The RRO puts the emphasis on the responsible person to comply with the law. We operate a 'risk-based' inspection programme based on protecting the most vulnerable and those that are at higher risk.

Our business safety team delivers advice in the workplace and targets the heart of the business community to support fire safety, arson prevention, false alarm reduction and the benefits of sprinklers. We also engage with businesses throughout the county through our Primary Authority Scheme (PAS). This is a statutory scheme available to businesses with a presence in more than one local authority area.

We know that effective fire safety management makes buildings and people safer. We will do even more of this work to make businesses in Surrey safer including the following:

  • Do more to target high-risk business premises to ensure they are complying with the RRO and enforce compliance where necessary
  • Work more closely with district and borough councils to provide robust building consultation responses (planning regulations)
  • Introduce Local Competency Authorities to support the life of buildings through fire safety provisions
  • Increase our education work to improve businesses understanding of their legal requirements in relation to fire safety management and how to apply this in practice
  • Work more closely with partners to develop more resilient communities, helping to prevent emergencies from happening and helping residents and communities to know how to respond if they do happen.

Responding to emergencies

When we receive a 999 call, our Control Centre operators send fire and rescue personnel, vehicles and equipment to deal with the emergency. The range of emergencies we attend is vast and is constantly changing. Examples include road traffic collisions, fires in homes and business premises, water rescues and wildfires. We also attend emergencies that turn out not to be emergencies, such as responding to false reports of fire and helping to free trapped animals. These are instances where we will continue to explore the option of not needing to attend or charge for if we do.

We operate from 25 fire stations, which include a range of staff shift systems, and the crewing of 'special' vehicles capable of activities a fire engine alone cannot achieve, for example water rescues.

We do not send a fire engine based upon the closest fire station to you. We want to get to you as quickly as possible so we send the closest and most appropriate resource to the situation, regardless of where they are based. This helps us get the right equipment to you as soon as we can.

We also have arrangements in place with neighbouring Fire and Rescue Services, other emergency services and partners, including voluntary groups, to manage significant emergencies as part of a multi-agency response, for example widespread flooding.

We have introduced improvements that have reduced the time it takes between a call coming in and our firefighters leaving the station. This is helping us get resources to the scene of an emergency more quickly. Further improving our measurement of this will tell us how successful we are being.

We will modernise the way we measure our response service. Currently it is outdated and does not necessarily take account of a range and changing types of emergencies, the development of our rural and urban areas and the changes in infrastructure. We aim to modernise this by utilising data and technology to assist us.

Crewing and vehicle placement

Crewing and vehicle placement across the county will change in order to ensure the right resources are in the right place when we need to respond to emergencies.

This will allow us to re-focus some resources to life saving business and community safety activity instead.

How we developed our new ways of working

We undertook a detailed risk analysis, using a range of information for fire and rescue cover in Surrey. This included data about previous 999 calls, predictive (demographic) data which showed us where those at highest risk are in Surrey and sites that are most at risk. We also considered local and national statistics about fires and other emergencies. Our response modelling has been externally verified. From this risk analysis, we concluded that we had more resources at night than we need.

We used this information to inform us of the best way to manage risks by allocating our resources to prevent emergencies from happening and also making sure we can respond to them when they do. This information informed our data modelling work, which took account of:

  • the last five years emergency response data
  • call-outs per station
  • critical emergencies hotspots
  • current and future provision requirements
  • the baseline number of fire engines that are required to provide a full response and meet safety requirements

Number of fire engines available (excluding special appliances)

The modelling work carried out showed that in order to deliver an emergency response under normal circumstances, the service is required to provide the minimum number of appliances shown in the table below.

  Minimum requirement New model including resilience
Day time 20 22 (plus 3 on call) Total = 25
Day time - weekends 20 22 (plus 8 on call) Total = 30
Night time 16 13 (plus 10 on call) Total = 23

However, there will be times when we require more resilience to cover larger or longer emergencies and community protection and prevention activities, as well as release fire fighters for a wider variety of training activity than they undertake now. This is required because we now have less fires than we used to, and go to a wider range of emergencies, meaning our staff have less experience of more things. Therefore we must increase our training to ensure staff are well prepared and confident to deal with the fuller range of emergencies effectively and efficiently. Our new way of working reflects this.

The national Health and Safety Executive are clear it is the responsibility of fire and rescue services to adequately prepare personnel to operate in high pressure, dynamically 16 changing and dangerous situations.

This new way of working will ensure we have enough flexibility within our workforce to deliver an efficient emergency response alongside increasing our effectiveness in business and community safety within our communities.

Measuring our performance

We will use data and analytics to continuously look at ways that we can improve so we are as effective and as efficient as we can be. We have a refreshed and robust performance framework which supports our aspiration for continuous improvement. It monitors performance on an individual, team and a service basis. This is reviewed and scrutinised to make sure we are delivering our outcomes. We publish an annual external highlight report which provides an overview of our performance.


Fire engine

The general term used to describe all firefighting and incident management vehicles, including the standard fire engine. Also called frontline appliance or pumping appliance.

Special appliances

Vehicles which have specialist capabilities to assist in dealing with emergencies, eg water rescue.


Full-time firefighters.

Day crewed

The station will have crewed appliances available during the day.

On-call duty system

Firefighters are recruited to be available on-call close to their local fire station for a certain number of hours, plus regular training. They are paid a retainer plus a call-out fee for incidents attended.

Surrey Fire volunteers

To assist the operational firefighters, Surrey Fire and Rescue has developed a network of volunteers to help stations and departments to engage more effectively with local communities and deliver community safety activity.

Community safety

The range of fire prevention activities undertaken by the fire service in residents homes and to raise awareness of other community risks, for example water, often in conjunction with partner agencies.

Safe and Well visits

Working with partners to help keep the most vulnerable residents in communities safe in their home. They are visits by firefighters or other trained fire service staff, to provide information on fire safety in the home, falls prevention, alcohol use, staying warm and well, and crime reduction. Visits are free to residents.

Business safety

The range of fire protection activities undertaken by the fire service within businesses, often in conjunction with partner agencies.

Fire safety audits

These examine premises and relevant documents to ascertain how the premises is being managed in relation to H&S/fire avoidance and if the Fire Safety Order is being complied with.

Further reading

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