Agenda item

To consider Item 9


The Lead Member for Finance and Assets, Information Security and IT introduced the report.


The Director of Finance and Assets advised Members that workshops was a part of the service that often went largely unnoticed but was absolutely critical to operations. The Authority was always keen to improve its service, so during 2019-20, it commissioned a peer review of the transport and workshops function to gain reassurance that this area was operating effectively. This was carried out by Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service in December 2019. It was a thorough report and covered approximately thirty different areas, highlighting where there was existing good practice, but also highlighting where there may be areas for improvement. The standout area for concern, was the ability to attract and retain highly qualified vehicle technicians. This was something that had since been addressed by using a market supplement to ensure there was a full complement of staff to keep the appliances on the road. Some other key areas noted for improvement were the use of software within workshops and to also look at capacity and load planning.


The Director of Finance and Assets wanted to pass on his personal thanks to all the workshops staff who had done an excellent job throughout this difficult time keeping the fleet running.


A Member asked if contracting out workshops had been considered and was advised that yes it had been looked at and a joint facility with Aylesbury Vale District Council had been considered. It was something that would be kept under review, especially with Covid-19.


The Chief Fire Officer advised Members that there had been a business case presentation from Babcock to the Authority and its Thames Valley partners, predicated on all three services coming together and outsourcing transport and workshops. After the presentation from Babcock, it wasn’t deemed as a way forward, firstly in terms of the governance issues, for example Oxfordshire don’t just service fire appliances, they service Oxfordshire County Council fleet. It was investigated and discounted for these reasons.


Following on from this, the peer review agreed to look at this service’s own workshops and how well they were operating. The workshop staff had done a remarkable job especially over the last couple of years with the difficulty of retention of staff, but they had kept going and it was now an area of investment for the future. It was also important to remember that the workshop staff not only service the fire engines, but they also service a whole range of specialist equipment onboard.

A Member asked about planned and reactive maintenance and how often this was carried out.


The Fleet Manager advised Members that as far as the servicing schedules were concerned for the fleet, they were meeting the minimum DVLA requirements. Vehicles were inspected on a quarterly basis (13 weekly inspections) which was the minimum period and that could only be adjusted shorter if the use is deemed greater than the current requirement.


A Member asked about the transport replacement scheme and the vehicle life policy, would that require the Authority to re-profile its capital expenditure in later years.

The Director of Finance and Assets advised Members that in terms of the replacement programme, the Authority was out to tender for the joint Thames Valley fire appliances as the existing contract was coming to an end. The Authority already allowed for two or three fire appliances a year in the capital programme and was working on an updated financial and capital strategy that would look at a much longer term capital programme, 15-20 years, which was the expected life cycle of an appliance.


A Member asked about the brake roller tester that would require capital investment, was it mobile or built into the building.


The Fleet Manager advised that it was built into the building. However, if workshops were to move, it could be uplifted and moved. It would be much more useful to have the brake roller tester on site, because the requirement from the DVLA was that at every safety inspection a brake roller test should be carried out. A brake roller test gave a much better idea that all components were working. Having it on site would mean less reliance on a third party.


A Member asked about the timescales for the Peer Review, was some of it prearranged, as it seemed a lot of work was done in one day. Also, it seemed at present that some inspections were carried out by technicians going to fire stations, was the proposal in the longer term for all vehicles to be brought to HQ for testing?

The Fleet Manager advised that there had been a number of communications with Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service over a period of time and information provided to them before the face to face meetings. Although the report looked like it was completed in one day, it was over a number of weeks.


The Fleet Manager advised that in the past safety inspections were carried out on stations and the vehicle would only come into workshops for its annual service or major repair work. However, with the latest best practice and recommendations from the DVLA, it was now a requirement to bring the vehicle into workshops.




That the report be noted.

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