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by the NFCC

Introduction

Nottingham Trent University has been commissioned to undertake a review of the state of the art of national practice of UK Fire and Rescue Services and specifically the methodologies they use to produce their community risk assessments.

A survey was developed to capture the methodologies used by FRSs including the devolved nations. Sensitivity was given to the differing statutory and legal frameworks across the United Kingdom. Therefore, in this report the processes of determining risk and managing resources appropriately will be referred to as community risk management (CRM) including assessment, formulation, planning, communication, methodology, training and evaluation related to risk. When referring to the first stages of this process (assessment, formulation and planning) we refer to community risk assessment (CRA). We refer to the other elements in this process by name as they do not refer directly to a governance or regulatory framework. At the time of authoring this report, the evaluation of prevention activities are becoming increasingly important to capture, measure, articulate and communicate outside of service. Therefore, we justify including evaluation in the survey and in this report. This aimed to explore not only the overall methodology, but also the constituent parts of the systems processes and tools used when assessing risk. Following the receipt of the ethical approval from Nottingham Trent University, the questionnaire was sent out to all Fire and Rescue Services in the United Kingdom for completion. 

The questionnaire was in two parts. Section one explored the approaches to risk assessments and the remaining sections explored prevention; protection; response; nature and disposition of resources; and evaluation of Fire & Rescue activities. 

Our aim was to capture current practice, not to establish best practice, this was for two reasons. Firstly, best practice assumes there is one definitive approach or methodology. Given the difference in governance, socio-demographic and spatial patterns within the geographical location of services, we set out with the expectation that there would not be one methodology to assess all services given these differences. Secondly, we set out with the assumption of differential sector development, namely that this would involve differences in both methodological development and data sophistication. What may be best practice now, will quickly become left behind as skills, knowledge and methods improve. However, we are aware there is an appetite for a structured approach to completing risk assessments and contribute to the development of this throughout the report and can be found under ‘Good Practice’ and ‘Gap Analysis’ headings.  

There is a responsibility as a national body to consider the political and social good in these processes, including communication to stakeholders and the other members of the UK FRS. This is with reference to using an evidence base to inform what is being done as well as how that evidence base informs decisions and how those decisions are implemented. Some of our recommendations are made with this aspiration in mind.