Welcome to our annual Statement of Assurance for April 2021 to April 2022.
This Fire and Rescue Statement of Assurance provides our communities with clear and transparent information about Surrey Fire and Rescue Service's (SFRS) financial, governance and operational matters. It is a requirement of the Fire and Rescue Service National Framework for England (2018) and sets out arrangements in place to deliver activities safely and effectively. We will reference other useful documents you may wish to read and have provided links to these.
The fire and rescue service plays a crucial role in making communities safer, whether it be preventing and protecting people from fire and other risks or responding swiftly to the emergencies that occur. We have introduced fundamental changes to the Service and the way it operates over the past year, these are designed to deliver our vision of making Surrey a safer place to live, work, travel and do business - as well as continuing to ensure we meet our statutory responsibilities.
We are doing more to keep people safe from risk, especially the most vulnerable in our communities. We also need to continue to respond and adapt to the Government's fire and rescue reform agenda. This includes the statutory inspection regime by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services which monitors and reports on our performance on behalf of the Home Office. We will ensure that we are providing an efficient, effective, accountable and transparent service, reflective of the diversity in our community we serve. We will be flexible and adaptable, with a diverse workforce that is proud to serve and protect our communities.
The main aim of this document is to be open and transparent about how we are keeping you safe and assurance of our commitment to provide a fire and rescue service that meets the demands of Surrey.
Surrey - the context we work in
As a place, Surrey has a range of unique features and qualities that can create different challenges and opportunities. The statistics below set these in context*.
- Surrey has a population of 1.2 million residents, made up of approximately 481,800 households. The population is expected to grow to 1.26 million by 2030.
- Ageing population – by 2030 the proportion of working age residents (16-64) and of younger people is expected to decrease. There are expected to be more residents aged over 65, and a 29% increase in the number of over 85s.
- Approximately 286,000 children and young people aged 0-19 live in Surrey.
- An ageing population is likely to lead to increasing demands on services for vulnerable adults and those with long-term and age-related medical conditions.
- Surrey is affluent with pockets of social deprivation.
- Surrey is one of the safest places in England and Wales, with the 6th lowest recorded crime rate of the 43 police forces, and lower than average rates of victim-based crime.
- Reported knife crime among young people has increased in the previous two years by 50%.
Our fire and rescue authority, Surrey County Council (SCC), has set out a Community Vision for Surrey placing greater emphasis on prevention, services for vulnerable people, and the need for greater collaboration with partners.
By 2030 we all want Surrey to be a:
"Uniquely special place where everyone has a great start to life, people live healthy and fulfilling lives, are enabled to achieve their full potential and contribute to their community, and no one is left behind."
Our Fire and Rescue Service Making Surrey Safer plan sets out how we will refocus our resources to increase our work with communities and businesses to prevent emergencies from happening, whilst also responding more efficiently when they do.
Our vision for the service is to make Surrey a safer place to live, work, travel and do business.
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service's Making Surrey Safer Plan
Each fire and rescue authority must provide assurance that they are meeting their statutory responsibilities and are delivering the strategies set out in their Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP).
Our Making Surrey Safer Plan was created to meet the risks of the community, which is in line with the National Fire Chiefs Council, and to transform the Service to meet Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) recommendations.
The plan was created from a detailed risk analysis, using a range of information for fire and rescue cover in Surrey, including:
- Data about 999 calls over the past five years.
- Predictive data which shows us where those at highest risk are in Surrey.
- Local and national statistics about fires and other emergencies.
The plan is our long-term, risk-based business strategy which outlines our future aims and priorities. It is our response to the risks in Surrey that we have identified and analysed in our Community Risk Profile. It sets out our understanding and analysis of risks in relation to the fire and rescue service's activity, enabling us to establish our expected operational response standard and plan our response to a predicted level and type of incident. Importantly, it shows where we need to undertake community prevention and protection activities to prevent incidents from happening in the first place.
We are continuing to transform the Service to meet the needs and manage the risks that we will face throughout the county, now and in the future. We are two years into that journey and want to make sure we position firefighters and resources where they can have the greatest impact in an emergency and use our expertise in prevention to stop incidents in the first place.
Under the Equality Act 2010 all public sector organisations must consider the impact of each of their policy decisions on different 'protected characteristic' groups. To help us do this, we undertake People Impact Assessments (PIAs). The purpose of a PIA is to ensure our services are effective, efficient and fair in the work they carry out. PIAs help us to make sure that, as far as possible, any negative consequences are understood and mitigated and opportunities for promoting fairness and respect are maximised. We assessed the impact on different groups of the policies set out in our Making Surrey Safer Plan using this process. Our PIAs have been reviewed and revised following impacts of Covid-19. They will continue to be reviewed as the Service recovers and returns to business as usual.
In accordance with the Fire and Rescue Services Act of 2004, there are four key responsibilities we must ensure we provide for, which are:
- Protecting life and property in the event of fires in our area.
- Extinguishing fires in our area.
- Rescuing and protecting people in the event of a road traffic collision.
- Rescuing and protecting people in the event of other emergencies.
Other emergencies can include, but are not limited to, natural disasters such as flooding, incidents arising from acts of terrorism, hazardous materials incidents, transportation incidents, and in times of declared National Emergencies (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), where we may support our LRF as a Category 1 Responder, in accordance with the Civil Contingencies Act of 2004.
Between April 2021 to March 2022 our average time to arrive at incidents was 7 minutes 13 seconds. This is an excellent performance against a target of the first fire engine attending, on average, within 10 minutes. We know that Covid-19 has impacted the amount of community safety activities and the number of incidents we attended in 2021/22.
During the same period and a result of our prevention and protection work:
- We carried out 3981 Safe and Well Visits.
- The number of fires where no smoke detector was present has reduced by 1% (82 to 81).
- Accidental dwelling fires decreased by 10% (512 to 462). The number of non-fatal injuries from them increased by 8% (26 to 28).
- We attended 4,821 false fire alarms; this is an increase of 8%. Our Business Safety Team is working to reduce this figure.
- We undertook 32 rescues from water.
- The number of road traffic collisions we attended increased by 57% (608 to 952).
Since 2019 and in line with the National Fire Chief Council's recommendations, the Service has moved away from Home Safety Checks and now offers all residents a more in-depth Safe and Well Visit. These cover a broader range of subjects to support independent living, in addition to fire and general safety in the home. The Service is now able to signpost to additional sources of advice and support to promote health and wellbeing. This includes social activities, meal services, mental health support, disability, smoking, drugs or alcohol dependency, flooding and severe weather, alarms, scams and cold calling.
This approach forms part of the Making Surrey Safer plan and is the standard offered to all Surrey residents post lifting of lockdown restrictions.
The Service responded to 544 deliberate fires in 2021/22, a decrease of 18% (663). We have enhanced our partnership working with others to tackle root causes and reduce this behaviour. This includes:
- The Fire Investigation Team working with Surrey Police Anti-Social Behaviour Team to help reduce the instances of arson and domestic illegal burning.
- Partnering with the Local Authority Environmental Health team to tackle commercial illegal burning.
- Working with Surrey Police Serious Organised Crime Teams to reduce instances of stolen vehicles being set on fire.
- Our Wildfire and Rural Affairs Partnership Officers liaising with landowners to manage their site access and growth of potential fuel sources.
In total the Service responded to 2,056 fire calls in 2021/22. Sadly three of these incidents resulted in fatalities. All three victims were known to SCC teams.
When fatalities occur our Fire Investigation Team ensures that they are investigated thoroughly in partnership with Surrey Police. We have a Serious Incident Process that will collate and understand the incident information, key risks and ensure that any potential prevention work is highlighted. The most important factor in reducing fire deaths in Surrey is the vulnerability of the individual to fire. The key intervention strategy is to reduce the risk of accidental fires occurring in the first place through prevention work such as Safe and Well Visits. We continue to work closely with Adult Social Care and others to help us identify vulnerable people in Surrey.
Meet customer needs and expectations:
- Preventing emergencies before they happen.
- Provide more accessible services that better support businesses and communities.
- Protect communities by responding to emergencies when they occur.
- Decrease demand for our response services.
- Sustain revenue and increase capital investment.
- Realign resources based upon community needs.
- Use our resources appropriately, efficiently and effectively.
Provide customer-focused services
- Support the independence of individuals and businesses.
- Better promote and target our services.
- Learn more about communities, improve outcomes and evaluate services.
Manage the business
- Improve the use of technology and infrastructure.
- Continually develop and sustain our operating models.
- Produce, analyse and act upon performance data.
- Improve our communications with staff and trade unions.
Improve partnerships and collaboration
- Improve partnerships with community stakeholders.
- Improve blue light interoperability and intelligence sharing.
- Establish more effective partnership with Borough/District Councils.
- Improve partnerships with county council stakeholders.
Establish a reputation of quality
- Attract, recruit and retain a diverse workforce.
- Improve the confidence in our services.
- Make evidence and intelligence-led decisions.
- Assure and review all service changes.
- Be ethical, transparent and accountable.
- Develop a customer focus throughout the Service.
- Recognise and reward our staff who exemplify our values and behaviours.
- Develop an inclusive service culture with zero tolerance of bullying and harassment.
- Ensure we have the right people, at the right time and place, with the right skills.
- Develop a Service culture that is agile and flexible, which embraces change.
We employ 680 members of staff across Surrey. There are many diverse options when it comes to working for SFRS, from working within the community and local businesses to responding to emergency incidents.
- We provide information and advice on community issues affecting public safety and enforce fire safety legislation.
- We focus our efforts on education – raising awareness amongst the most vulnerable people to prevent fires, road traffic collisions and other emergencies.
- Our firefighters are trained to deal with a range of emergency situations.
These activities include working with Surrey Local Resilience Forum (LRF) partners to respond to major incidents like widespread flooding, pandemics, acts of terrorism or dealing with emergencies that may involve hazardous materials. We are proud to have:
- 16% support roles – including project and business managers, business support, diversity and inclusion lead, organisational development and communications roles.
- 6% community resilience roles including Fire Investigators, Youth Engagement Instructor, Education Officer and Wildfire & Rural Affairs Partnership Officer.
- 8% mobilising roles – Our state-of-the-art Joint Fire Control delivered in collaboration with East and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services. 70% response roles – We have two different types of firefighters, wholetime firefighters and on-call firefighters.
- Recruitment – We are actively recruiting. From April 20 - April 21 we recruited: 34 support roles, 15 community resilience and business fire safety roles, 8 control room roles, 64 response roles
- 48 volunteers – We are extremely grateful to our volunteers who help us keep communities safe. Read more about our volunteers on page 12.
If you would like to find out more about what happens at our fire stations, please visit our fire stations web page.
Our people are our greatest asset and they are at the heart of what we do. They work across numerous departments always showing their adaptability and willingness to go the extra mile for our residents.
We want the Service to continue to be a great place to work and to help our workforce to become more resilient and diverse. We are working to develop skills and maximise wellbeing at work. We are continuously working to improve the culture of our Service and in the way we work.
We recognise that health and wellbeing is not an optional extra. Supporting our staff to be physically and mentally healthy not only forms part of our legal responsibilities, and makes good organisational sense, it is also the right thing to do for our people who are working to protect our communities.
We offer a range of services to support all employees to maintain healthy lifestyles. These include access to a comprehensive Occupational Health Service, Employee Assistance Programme, The Fire Fighters Charity and MIND's Blue Light Programme.
We have a network of Wellbeing Champions who are all volunteers from throughout the service play a vital part in our wellbeing approach. All our Wellbeing Champions have received 'peer support' training provided by MIND's Blue Light Programme equipping them with the skills, knowledge and understanding of techniques that can be used to support their colleagues for those times when their wellbeing may be suffering, along with helping raise awareness and encourage people to talk about their wellbeing. We have also trained a group of staff as mental health first aiders, to ensure they can work alongside the wellbeing champions in supporting our workforce.
We have developed a policy on fitness that requires operational firefighters to undergo annual fitness testing. Fitness testing results are monitored by the Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Working Group.
We have, for several years, recruited and developed our volunteers to deliver 'Safe and Well Visits.' These visits provide tailored advice to vulnerable people in their own homes, helping to ensure they can continue to enjoy living independently and safely.
Our volunteers support various activities and initiatives, many of which are generated by the team. These include but are not limited to fire station open days, fundraising promotions, campaign support and specialist wildfire prevention. They also contribute towards delivering the Junior Citizen programme.
No greater example of volunteering can be shown than was demonstrated in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our volunteers went above and beyond to coordinate and support the picking, packing and distribution of PPE and care packages to those most in need. More than 10 million items of PPE were issued during this period by our team.
Our Community Safety Team aim to expand volunteering further into local communities, engaging with both internal and external stakeholders to provide assistance when required. This includes environmental impacts such as flooding, and wildfires. These volunteers will work with us to plan, prevent and prepare for these major impacts and feedback opportunities when they do occur.
As a Service we are immensely proud of the community service undertaken by our volunteers.
Equality diversity and inclusion
Our ambition is for our workforce to be more representative of the diverse communities we serve within Surrey. We are passionate in our belief that a diverse workforce will enable us to deliver a better service and make Surrey even safer. We have therefore committed ourselves to wide-ranging positive action initiatives, aiming to attract candidates from diverse groups to join and stay with our Service. We hope this will better equip us to meet the specific needs of the communities we serve.
The Public Sector Equality Duty set out in the Equality Act 2010 requires public bodies to consider all individuals when carrying out their day-to-day work but our vision is that everyone representing the Service will be an ambassador of equality, diversity and inclusion.
As part of our People Strategy we will focus on promoting equality, diversity and inclusion, understanding our communities' requirements, delivering high quality and inclusive services. Throughout all of this we want to foster a positive, inclusive and diverse culture.
Health and safety
The Health and Safety Team ensure the Service takes due care of the health, safety and wellbeing of employees and people who may be affected by its operations. The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Performance Plan includes key performance indicators and targets which are monitored by the Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Working Group. We train our staff to a high level and pride ourselves on our high safety culture. Occupational Health Services are procured through a collaborative partnership with three other emergency services delivering an important resource and achieving value for money.
Leadership and development
The development of outstanding leadership skills, knowledge and capacity across all levels and teams, is supported by holistic delivery of learning and development that includes clear career development opportunities underpinned by coaching, mentoring, talent management, people development programmes, e-learning, shadowing, secondments and joint training.
We want our Service to be a professional and well-led organisation, exemplifying the Fire and Rescue Service Core Code of Ethics.
We were the first Fire and Rescue service in the UK to offer membership to all employees for the Institute for Fire Engineers. This is an acknowledgment of professional skills from an international organisation of fire professionals, recognising competence, commitment and expertise.
Collaboration and partnership
National Operational Guidance 3Fs Project
National Operational Guidance (NOG) is the foundation for developing operational policies, procedures and training for firefighters to deal with incidents effectively and safely. It is 'industry good practice' for everybody in fire and rescue services to draw on.
East Sussex FRS, Surrey FRS and West Sussex FRS have agreed to work in partnership to implement National Operational Guidance across all three services in a structured and systematic way.
It is an equal partnership for the mutual benefit of all the FRS involved. The aims and objectives are to adopt common working practices across the three fire services, including:
- Adoption of common documentation templates, terminology and concepts of operations.
- Sharing of electronic training packages, lesson plans, and equipment information.
- Adoption of a common approach to the provision of risk information to the incident ground, identification of hazards and controls for Site Specific Risks, and sharing of temporary risk information.
The project will assist in future joint procurement projects, by harmonising procedures across the 3 Fs partnership allowing better cross-border working.
Fire control projects
On 17 November 2021 the successful onboarding of East Sussex Fire and Rescue (ESFRS) took place creating a tri-service emergency control room for the fire and rescue services for Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex.
Control Operators despatch firefighters and fire engines from each of the three fire and rescue services to emergencies in their county from the joint control room. This arrangement increases resilience and staffing numbers. We have upgraded the primary control room and completed a high-tech secondary control at our headquarters in Reigate.
This is an example of the Service putting the Policing and Crime Act 2017 into practice by collaborating with others for the benefit of residents.
Other successful collaborations include a joint Occupational Health and Wellbeing service being delivered across Surrey/Sussex Police forces and ESFRS and the future Integrated Transport function that will see the combined partnership with Surrey/Sussex Police which will provide new and advanced joint vehicle workshop facilities to support our increasing range of vehicle and equipment needs for the future.
We work with partners across multiple sectors to seek improved efficiency and effectiveness through collaboration and integration. We are proud to collaborate with many other groups and charities to support our staff and the wider community; we have worked with:
- Friends Against Scams
- Surrey Police
- Surrey Local Resilience Forum
- South-East Coast Ambulance Service
- Asian Fire Services Association
- Surrey Ethnic Minority Association
We produce a performance highlight report each year which gives information on, amongst other things, the number and types of incidents that we attend, how quickly we respond and the number of Safe and Well Visits we complete. You can view these reports here – Surrey Fire and Rescue Tableau.
In addition to the data, we collect on responses to incidents and fire safety activities (for both businesses and the community) we gather information about our performance from a range of other sources.
Benchmarking – Family Group 4
The Service is a member of a benchmarking group, Family Group 4, made up of 14 fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales. Every quarter, each member authority submits data on performance. This is then fed back in the form of a benchmarking report which enables us to see how we are performing compared with the other authorities.
Station assurance visits
Station assurance visits are one of the ways in which we can highlight areas of operational best practice and learning by introducing a standard and consistent approach to measuring performance. The outcomes are used to show evidence of improvement, to implement corrective action and to reduce/limit operational risk.
The Service completed 34 Station assurance visits during 2021-22. The station assurance visits are the responsibility of the borough commanders. Each whole-time, day-crewed and on-call watch is programmed a visit annually. Operational policy assurance and learning collect and analyse the data submitted for the purpose of trend identification. The station assurance visits also provide another layer of learning confirmation, following communication of identified learning through the post event review process and or the publication of procedural alerts, urgent safety notices and operational assurance alerts. The communication of national operational learning and joint organisational learning publications are also assured during the station assurance visits.
The operational policy and assurance team undertake dip sampling of the assurance visits completed by the station commander. This ensures standardisation of the station assurance process and confirmation of the communication and understanding of the learning and development identified locally, regionally and nationally. The team also completed unannounced audits at three stations following assurance visits.
During 2021-2022 several topical areas formed part of the assurance process:
- Clean person concept
- Water supplies and MDTs
- High rise procedures and provisions
In addition to these areas, general questions are asked of the watch which included M/ETHANE and analytical risk assessments as a common trend and questions on National Operational Guidance. Further to this, stations with specialist equipment such as high-volume pumps or aerial ladder platforms also had their knowledge and understanding assessed.
Operational policy and assurance
The Operational Policy and Assurance team collates examples of best practice and identified learning to improve the operational knowledge, understanding and procedures of the Service. This is done through gathering and monitoring operational performance information from local and national sources. The Service supports the National Fire Chiefs Council's Central Programme Office. Where learning has been identified locally that may be of interest to other fire and rescue services, the National Operational Learning platform is utilised.
Assurance and improvement
We continually assess our progress and improve our services to the residents and businesses of Surrey. In 2019 we approached the College of Business, Arts and Social Science (CBASS) at Brunel University London. We asked them to review our Transformation Programme and for them, as an external body, to assure the plans to support the delivery of Making Surrey Safer Plan. They concluded:
"Overall we are very satisfied that there is a robust data model that underpins the transformation plan. The plan as presented stands on firm ground."
Please see the Making Surrey Safer Plan 2020-2024 for more information and the full Brunel University London report.
In 2020, we asked Brunel University London to revisit our plan in the context of COVID-19, the outcomes from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and new legislation. They then assured the Phase 2 process in its current form ahead of implementation.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services Inspection
In July 2017, HMICFRS extended its remit to include inspections of England's fire and rescue services. The first inspection of the Service took place in July 2018 and a number of recommendations were made. HMICFRS revisited in September 2019 and found "significant progress" had been made in several areas. They praised the Making Surrey Safer Plan and described it as a "comprehensive and evidence-based assessment of risk, with considered options".
HMICFRS carried out their second full inspection in the Spring of 2021 and their subsequent report stated that 'It was heartening to see the progress made by Surrey Fire and Rescue since our first inspection.'
'The service is in much better shape than at the time of our 2018/19 inspection. It is becoming more effective and efficient at keeping people safe from fire. And, on balance, it is improving how well it looks after its people. It knows that there is a great deal of work to do to change and improve its organisational culture, but it is approaching this challenge positively.'
During their last full inspection in Spring 2021, HMICFRS identified no new causes of concern but recognised several areas for continued focus and development which included:
- Evaluating our prevention work to make sure our activity is working
- Ensuring we provide our firefighters with up-to-date and useful risk information
- Learning from our operational activity, both internal and external.
HMICFRS will carry out their next inspection of our service in 2023, exact timings are yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, we are committed to focusing on our areas of improvement and the recommendations provided within the HMICFRS report of 2021/22. We monitor progress against our Inspection Improvement Plan and report on it via our Service governance structure. The plan is also being scrutinised by the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee on a bi-annual basis.