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by the NFCC

Gap Analysis

NFCC strategy

FRSs allocate resources to prevention, protection, and response based on their own identified need, however there is evidence in a minority of FRSs that resource allocation and planned activities target demand, rather than risk and demand. This results from individual FRSs managing their own demand and not risk. We recommend that NFCC strategy explicitly refers to priorities for targeting demand and risk to ensure strategic alignment with national priorities.

Conceptualisation of risk

We advocate that each FRS states which representation of risk concept they assume and can provide a rationale as to why they have adapted that position. Whilst this report does not advocate one approach over another, we do invite the NFCC to either enforce one position or adopt in to guidance the principle of understanding which representation of risk concept each FRS is using.   

Defining risk

The concept of ‘risk’ is perceived differently by different FRSs. For some the definitions have overlapping similarities, where others are completely distinct. Risk is considered as separately as community risk, firefighter risk, and financial risk, and some combination of the three within the different submissions. 

Prioritising risk

In the same vein as the definition of risk, there is disparity about what risk priorities are. For some, the priority is to model based on the likelihood of an event occurring. Others model based on the consequences of an event happening (i.e. survivability), while others still look at the economic cost of an event occurring. This is likely to overlap into the political landscape, however, NFCC strategy should provide guidance for the relative importance of relative factors in prioritising risk. This will also be necessary to build into a toolkit for supporting risk modelling and analysis. 

Toolkit training

It is necessary to resource training for FRSs on how to use any developed toolkit to model both risk and demand, how to choose and use credible datasets to model risk, how to adopt a robust methodology, and then how to make decisions about priorities for prevention and protection activities. This can be done alongside relevant partners where there are knowledge gaps within the FRS. This programme of training would not only support the skill development within each FRS, it would also collectively drive development within the sector.  

Evidence-based risk

There is a need to develop an evidence-based understanding of community risk and the factors to consider, which requires conducting research nationwide to ensure the relative contributions of relevant factors across different socio-demographic populations in different geographical regions. 

Methods for predicting risk

The toolkit should include an interface to facilitate a methodologically sound, replicable method of integrating different sources of data, and modelling community risk. There is a need for this to be flexible enough for use across the varying needs of all the UK FRSs, and adaptable to changes in need over time. Within this, further research should consider what good practice looks like, with regards to reliability, validity, and modelling using a combination of descriptive statistics and inferential analyses.

Transparency

There is a general need for individual FRSs to operate transparently, providing enough detail about practices that another FRS organisation could replicate their process exactly and arrive at the same conclusions. This includes, in addition to greater transparency, introducing more reliable methods of data analysis and decision making. 

Identification and articulation of regional and national risk

A regional and national risk assessment should be completed to ensure the response to larger, more complex events are considered. Although this should not feature in public facing risk management documentation, it should be completed as part of the activities of planning a response to risk. This goes beyond agreements of mutual aid and joint exercising, and instead focusses on the joint regional planning and responding activities.