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The golden thread

Exemplar Award Winner- Winner National Gazetteers Citizen Award 2011: Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service

Fire-fighters can be kept safer by providing them with more information on the risks they may face when attending incidents. This is at the heart of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s mission of ‘Safer Stronger Communities – Safe Effective Fire-Fighters’.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service is undertaking an on-going project to support this mission, whilst also gaining improvements in service delivery with savings and a notable reduction in both the number and impact of fires.

By working with the relevant local authority’s LLPG, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service uses a common, nationally agreed data set which better supports its approach to collecting and holding risk information. Commercial properties that require a risk assessment are identified and prioritised for assessment from information contained within the LLPG. Following a site visit, risk data is collated for individual properties and then, using the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) within the LLPG as a ‘golden thread’, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service ties together other relevant information within the record for that property.

Outcomes

The BLPU classification is factored into a specially developed matrix to provide a risk ’score’ for all commercial premises to help prioritise site visits. Trained personnel assess and record risk factors specific to the property and its current use, and note possible amendments to the LLPG held address. All the information is then recorded against the UPRN and is used to cross reference the data with information already held in different systems. This is then communicated with other users of the data, both internally within the service and externally with partner organisations.

Risk information is initially utilised within the Service’s mobilising system to handle 999 calls. This ensures that at the point of reporting, all recorded information is available to help inform and manage an appropriate and effective response. Risk information is also made available to responding officers via mobile devices. This means that onsite teams have timely access to relevant information that will support fire-fighter safety; assist with protection of the community and, it is hoped, allow a fast resolution of the incident with minimum damage to the property.

Building on the success of this project, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service is already working on a number of local and national ‘Customer Insight’ projects. These include work with Liverpool John Moores University, other local authorities and partners to produce a wider profile of risk and aid the targeting of intervention services. Funding for this project was secured from the Local Government Improvement and Development Customer Transformation fund.

The project aims to:

• encourage and support partnership working

• use customer insight data from partner agencies to identify opportunities for intervention

• build on positive brands, such as Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, to promote early intervention initiatives

• reduce the number of preventable incidents

• ensure value for money, and support the local integrated risk management plan.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has also hosted a number of events designed to promote and cascade its work to date and, in doing so, has established a strong network of contacts within organisations across the public and private sectors. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service is actively promoting itself as a pioneer in this field and is keen to work with other Fire and Rescue Services to develop and implement similar projects.

Key benefits

• making fire-fighters safer by giving them more information on the risks they face at a site before arriving at an incident

• a fast and effective response to incidents with information, including key hazards, building layout and other assessments of risk, available from first point of contact to officers on site

• stronger community relations with property owners and business operators; these result in a reduced risk to the overall community through the joint development of risk reduction strategies and, when an incident does occur, a higher proportion of fires confined to the room of origin

• improvements in the quality and accuracy of the LLPG with amendments, recorded by fire personnel, reported to the relevant local government custodian for further investigation and adoption.

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