Agenda and minutes

Fire Services Management Committee - Monday, 10th March, 2014 2.00 pm

Venue: Westminster Room, 8th Floor, 18 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3HZ. View directions

Contact: Daniel Kalley 

No. Item


Chairman's report pdf icon PDF 86 KB


Cllr Hammond confirmed that she was now booked into visiting Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service in April/May.


Cllr Healey commented on the strong debate and discussion at the Future Fire and Rescue Services event on 26 February. Cllr Hammond agreed that the event was a success and provoked a lot of interesting debate.


Members asked whether there had been any further updates from Brandon Lewis MP, with regards to the government’s response to the Knight review. Cllr Hammond responded stating that she had spoken with Brandon Lewis at the LGA Annual Parliamentary Reception and was assured the government’s response was due shortly.




Members noted the report.



Flooding pdf icon PDF 112 KB

Additional documents:


Eamon Lally, Senior Adviser, introduced the report outlining the extensive work carried out by the fire and rescue service during the recent extreme weather and directed Members to issues raised in the report around fire and rescue authorities being the co-ordinating bodies following the flooding.


Cllr Hammond recognised that there were a number of examples where fire and rescue services had excelled during the recent floods, which had stretched to include some authorities helping out those who were most in need of support.


Members welcomed the report and made a number of comments including:


           There was an opportunity following the flooding for CFOA, LGA and the Unions to get together and to illustrate the resources required to offer this national resilience function. Most members of the public recognised that the fire services were at the forefront of tackling the floods and assisting members of the public.

           Once the flooding had cleared a full de-brief should be carried out on what happened and any issues that arose from the flooding.

           There was a shortage of equipment to deal with pumping large volumes of water, this needed to be addressed in case this scenario happened again in the near future.

           Following the flooding there needed to be better articulation of the successes of the fire service in tackling the crisis, as all 46 fire authorities were involved in tackling the flooding.

           No other organisation was capable of carrying out the work of the fire and rescue service. This was an opportunity to reconsider whether flood response should be made a fully funded statutory duty for the fire and rescue service.

           If the current level of cuts predicted between 2015-2018 go ahead it was going to have a massive impact on the fire service, including fewer officers and a reduction in the number of fire stations. In addition further funding reductions would have an impact on fire and rescue services’ ability to help other authorities in times of crisis, such as the recent flooding.


In response to some of the points raised Members were informed that if fire and rescue services were signed up to the national assets programme they would legally have to deploy their assets to those areas that were in need of assistance.


Cllr Hammond commented that in the first instance it was important to call for a review of national resilience and for a full de-brief into the recent floods before any calls for a statutory duty could be made.




Lead Members to renew their call for a review into national resilience and for a full de-brief into recent flooding.


Officers to circulate budget submission from the Housing and Environment Board to all Members of the Committee.




Members noted the issues set out in the report.


Review of property conditions in the private rented sector pdf icon PDF 83 KB


Mark Cashin, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service gave a presentation to Members on the progress of the campaign to introduce a requirement on landlords to install smoke alarms in private rented properties.


The Secretary of State now had the power to ensure working smoking alarms are installed in all rented property but the legislation had not been enacted. The reason behind this CFOA campaign was that the decline in fire deaths had now levelled off. There needed to be more work to start reducing this number even further. Members were informed that only 12% of all rented accommodation did not have a working smoke alarm, however 40% of fire deaths occurred within these properties.


Mark Cashin stated that this campaign would help root out any rogue landlords and prevent them from taking advantage of vulnerable tenants. He said that the feedback received so far on the proposals had been positive and almost all organisations and individuals agree that this was one of the best ways to save lives. It was important that this was seen as not creating vast reams of legislation and regulation; however it was important that some regulation was in place to ensure landlords followed the correct procedures.


He indicated that the rationale behind the regulation was to ensure landlords comply with it, rather than taking forward prosecutions. Following the consultation if there was enough support a full impact assessment was to be carried out. If not, then the government would not pursue it further. Members were reminded that the consultation closed on 28 March.


Members thanked Mark for the presentation and asked a number of questions to which Mark responded including:


           It was encouraging to see that fire fighters were still keen on going into resident’s homes and installing smoke alarms, this was now seen as one of the fire services core objectives.

           A range of views were expressed as to the value of pursuing a legislative route to addressing this issue. Some members suggested that regulation could be effective, but that it would represent a new burden for local government which would need to be fully funded. Others pointed to the success of non-legislative campaigns in improving fire safety in the private rented sector.

           A focus on vulnerable groups would be needed as they were most at risk from rogue landlords.

           Older people were one of the more vulnerable groups, as the age of the population increased there was likely to be more elderly victims of fire.

           There was a drive to tackle students, 18 months previously there had been a fire safety students week, which was due to be repeated


Cllr Hammond suggested that it would be useful for the FSMC to contribute to the consultation jointly with the environment and housing board.




Lead Members to agree draft response to consultation on smoke alarms in private rented accommodation to go jointly with Environment and Housing Board.




Members thanked Mark Cashin for the presentation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Pensions update pdf icon PDF 144 KB


Eamon Lally, Senior Adviser introduced the report to Members and advised the Committee that the paper set out:


Proposed governance arrangements to accompany the introduction of the 2015 pension scheme and how this will affect fire and rescue authorities.


Information on the valuation of the firefighters pension scheme and potential impact on firefighters budgets.


A recommendation to respond to the current consultation on regulations as it would be more appropriate to respond once the government consultations on governance and financing arrangements were published.


Eamon Lally also outlined the government response to the consultation on retained pensions which was published a few days earlier. The response makes clear that the Government has decided that fire and rescue authorities should be responsible for the balance of scheme liability associated with the retrospective admittance of retained firefighters to the firefighters pension scheme.


Cllr Spencer declared a personal interest in the pension scheme as he would be claiming a fire services pension in the future.


Members commented on the consultation response including:


           The new governance arrangements would require far more lead members of local authorities to be representatives on the pensions board, going forward it was imperative that the right training was provided as the fire pension’s scheme was unique in comparison to other schemes.

           The decision by the Minister set out in the consultation response on retained pensions was different to the views of the FSMC and would place a heavy burden on the fire and rescue service which they could not afford.

           Previous legal advice had indicated that there could be grounds to challenge such a decision by Government and the fire and rescue sector must now consider what action it should take.


Some Members commented that the new governance arrangements would require training for a number of people. It was suggested that officers looked into whether the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) was able to provide the necessary training.


Members agreed that a short working group needed to look into understanding the impact of the new retained pension scheme and the next steps in terms of pension reform in general.




Officers to gather nominations from each political group for the sub working group on pension’s reform.


Officers to setup first meeting of the working group.




Members noted the issues set out in the report.


Industrial Relations pdf icon PDF 68 KB


Cllr Heaster informed Members that there were no further updates with regards to the pension disputes. Principles adopted in Scotland were similar to those sought in England, with the exception of principle 11 which granted full pension at the age of 55 instead of 60.


Whilst discussions were ongoing there was no further threat of strike action.




Members noted the report.



LGA Annual Fire Conference and Exhibition 2014 and 2015 pdf icon PDF 95 KB


Jane Marcroft, Conference and Events Manager updated Members on arrangements for the Fire Conference on the following days and also informed Members on progress in booking the venue for the Fire Conference in 2015.


The two options being considered were the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, which although was large it was not in the city centre and the price for hiring rooms was more expensive than in previous years. In addition, the preferred time for holding the conference coincided with a busy period of events at the Birmingham NEC, which placed a high demand on bedrooms at the hotel. The second option was the Stadiummk in Milton Keynes, which was a football stadium, this had the advantage of having the hotel and conference venue under the same roof, however the charges were still higher than the 2014 conference and the hotel would not be able to accommodate all delegates, with the nearest hotel 2.5 miles away from the venue.


Members asked what the cost per delegate would be at the venue in Milton Keynes in comparison with costs per delegate in Cardiff. Jane Marcroft confirmed that the cost per delegate in Cardiff was £28 per delegate per day, in Milton Keynes this was higher per delegate per day, including room higher, but did not include the use of smaller rooms for some of the workshops and fringe sessions. Members were informed that negotiations were continuing with both venues to try and reduce the cost.


Some Members requested feedback from the conference in Cardiff before making a final decision on the venue for the 2015 Fire Conference.




Officers to report back on the success of the Cardiff Fire Conference and asking Lead Members to confirm their view about a decision on the 2015 venue.




Members noted the report.


Update Paper pdf icon PDF 87 KB


Cllr Healey agreed to attend the annual fire lecture in place of Cllr Hammond. In addition Cllr Pulk asked if more Members were available to attend the September memorial services as this was an important event to get as many Members of the Committee attending as possible.




Members noted the update report.



Notes from the Previous meeting pdf icon PDF 95 KB


The Committee noted the minutes of the meeting on 24 January 2014.