To receive a verbal update
The Head of Protection and Assurance gave the Committee an update on the progress that had been made on the Operational Assurance Improvement activities. There was a dedicated Operational Assurance team that formed part of the Operational Training Department. The Operational Assurance team were responsible for, amongst other things, attending, monitoring and reviewing incidents and debriefs. However, more recently they had broadened their involvement in other events outside of just the operational environment. The team oversee and report quarterly on the Operational Assurance Improvement Plan (OAIP) to the Operational Improvement Group. The OAIP was a dynamic document, used to enhance the ability to capture, scrutinise and identify any operational learning originating from a variety of events. This approach had better enabled the Service to effectively identify emerging issues and then implement practical and corrective solutions, in order to enhance its performance. Members may recall that in 2018 the Authority contracted the services of Operational Assurance Limited (OAL), as part of its independent assurance process.
These arrangements concluded at the end of August 2020 in line with the agreement. This agreement enabled the service’s risk critical operations to be subject to regular independent scrutiny, thereby strengthening the Authority’s ability to deliver the best possible public service and improve the safety of firefighters by improving performance at incidents; coping with future changes in the operational environment and driving development and innovation.
The most recent operational review undertaken by OAL, during November 2019, made 14 recommendations. These were presented to members of the Operational Assurance Group (OAG), to determine how these would be captured within the OAIP. One recommendation had not been adopted as there was very little evidence to back it up. The other 13 recommendations now form actions on the OAIP and had been assigned lead officers to progress, many of which had now been completed.
The Head of Protection and Assurance advised Members that looking forward, the Service was progressing with an improvement plan on how it captured operational debrief information through moving to an electronic Active Monitoring System. This would be subject to a full evaluation over the next six months before making any decision to roll it out further.
The Head of Protection and Assurance advised Members that as mentioned earlier, the role of the OAT had been broadened and in August this year, they carried out a Service wide staff survey on the response to Covid. 164 staff responded, which was grouped into three categories:
Communication - There was a single area on the Intranet for Pandemic related communication.
Safer Working - Improved signage around the sites reminding everyone of the part they play. Increasing hand sanitiser stations. Desks moved apart allowing people to work safely. Providing facemasks for operational staff to wear when on appliances. Carrying out site audits to identify areas of compliance/improvement and achieve ‘Covid Secure’ status.
Technology - Supporting the use of the Test and Trace app across the Service. Investigating how Microsoft Teams and webcams can be provided to stations to support distance learning and facilitate team meetings from across the organisation. Broadcasting Fire Authority meetings via YouTube, allowing more people to ‘attend’ and see what takes place.
Feedback - Remuneration for increased costs incurred by those working from home. There was a great deal to be proud about in relation to the Service’s response to the pandemic. There was no doubt the Service had a positive impact on its communities. The support and level of service maintained and provided was commendable. The intention was to carry out another staff survey in the New Year.
(A two minutes’ silence was observed for Remembrance Day).