We Asked, You Said, We Did

Below are some of the issues we have recently consulted on and their outcomes.

We asked

We asked for views on our draft Strategic Plan 2022-25. We asked people what they thought about our set of seven proposed priorities, and invited them to share any general views they had about the draft Strategic Plan as a whole.

You said

You Said

The public consultation exercise generated a total of 132 survey responses through the online survey. The majority of respondents either Strongly Agreed, or Agreed with all of the Outcomes in the draft Strategic Plan. The figures were 51.1% and 34.4% respectively, giving a total of 85.5% of all respondents supporting the draft Strategic Plan.

Respondents were given the opportunity to provide further feedback on each of our Outcomes. They were also asked if they wished to make any general comments, allowing them to give more expansive answers on issues they felt were of importance, and which were perhaps not covered sufficiently in the seven Outcomes.  

These free text responses were examined and the most common themes identified. This was done through careful textual analysis and by applying a simple coding frame. The following key themes were raised:  

  • Respondents are supportive of the need for partnership working, with many taking the opportunity to recognise the benefits of existing partnerships.
  • The ongoing development of the role of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is supported, with respondents highlighting additional opportunities to work with partners to contribute to wider health and wellbeing outcomes. 
  • Our commitment to climate change was supported by respondents at both a high-level strategic context and from a partnership perspective when discussing responding to incidents caused by climate change.  
  • Although supportive of our ambitions, respondents highlighted the need to provide appropriate / fit-for-purpose technology and equipment; and adequate training and support for frontline staff. 
  • Respondents were supportive of our desire to share data / information with partners stakeholders. 
  • In the context of current spending pressures, there is widespread recognition that resources are becoming increasingly stretched, and a recognition of the challenges this will bring.  

We did

The free-text comments included in the report, both positive and constructive in nature, were considered closely. 

In most circumstances, suggested changes to be made to the Plan, because of comments from respondents, were minor text changes to strengthen or clarify a point that has already been made within the draft Strategic Plan 2022-25. Examples of this include:  

  • Further explanation on the meaning of ‘harm’ 
  • More reference to the need to ensure staff are trained 
  • Strengthening our commitment adopting a place-based model 
  • A clearer statement that staff at all levels will be encouraged and supported to suggest and develop innovative ways of working 
  • More emphasis that community and firefighter safety is paramount 
  • Acknowledgement of the importance of good mental health 
  • The need to mention staff empowerment 

 Each of the above suggestions were included in the final version of the Strategic Plan 2022-25 that was published in October 2022.  

We asked

We asked for views on the content of our statistical publications and on proposed changes to the methodology of counting fire stations and the SFRS workforce. We were looking for guidance to help us produce statistics more closely tailored to the needs of our users.

You said

We received seven online responses to this public consultation. Three respondents described their use of our statistics as for work purposes only, while three described their use as both work and personal, and one described their use as personal interest only. Respondents included SFRS staff, staff at other UK Fire and Rescue Services as well as from outside of the Fire and Rescue sector.

Our proposals to amend the counting methodology for fire stations and workforce, to include Gordonstoun Fire Station and the associated crew, received favourable responses with five respondents approving of the changes and none opposing.

Respondents were interested in the range of topics that we publish; the most popular topic in our published statistics was ‘Fire Stations’ with six respondents interested, followed by ‘Fire and Rescue Vehicles’ and ‘Dwelling Fires’ with five responses each.  None of our topics received fewer than two responses.

In the free text comments respondents requested additional publishing across three areas:

  1. statistics relating to SFRS Operations Control departments
  2. statistics on fires in student accommodation, purpose-built flats and houses in multiple occupation (HMO) properties
  3. statistics on the SFRS organisation and management structures in greater detail than is currently published as well as more detailed descriptions of the associated responsibilities

We did

In our next publication of the ‘Fire Safety and Organisational Statistics’ we will include Gordonstoun Fire Station and staff in counting both fire stations and the workforce. We will backdate this change as far as possible.

SFRS recently procured new control system software and plans to implement this in the three SFRS Operations Control departments in Scotland. This software includes reporting features which will allow the development of new statistical tables on topics related to emergency incident communications and control in due course.

In our last publication of ‘Fire Safety and Organisational Statistics’ we introduced a new table on staff headcount in departments. We will work further on these experimental statistics with a view to providing more detail about the workforce of SFRS and the responsibilities of the organisational structures that they work in. In tandem we will investigate publishing more detail on the organisational structures and hierarchy of the SFRS.

In our next ‘Fire and Rescue Incident Statistics’ publication we will produce new tables for both fires and casualties occurring in purpose built multi-storey flats (including high-rise), houses in multiple occupation, and other multiple occupancy property types.

We asked

We asked for views on our draft Strategic Plan 2019-22, which sets our direction as a Service for the coming three-year period. We designed an online survey on our consultation hub, to find out if we had chosen the right Strategic Outcomes and Objectives, and to invite comments on the Plan as a whole.

You said

We received 252 online responses to the consultation and a further 7 written responses from partner organisations. 194 (75%) were received from individuals and 65 (25%) from organisations.  93 individuals identified themselves as SFRS staff, which is 36% of the total respondents.   Responses were strongly supportive with 83% of respondents, on average, agreeing to our proposals across all outcomes and objectives.

Outcome 1 – Our collaborative and targeted prevention and protection activities improve community safety and wellbeing, and support sustainable economic growth.

This outcome and its objectives were very much supported by partner organisations.  They indicated that these aims aligned with their own plans, and were willing to work in greater collaboration with us, sharing data and intelligence for wider understanding of those most vulnerable to harm, and to support organisational learning.  General support from others on our commitment to a targeted prevention based approach was also noted.

Where Councils acknowledged support to reduce Unwanted Fire Alarm Signal (UFAS), there was a general concern of others about a reducing attendance at this type of incident.  Several comments from staff and individuals indicate we should not be responsible for ‘economic growth’ nor should we be taking over jobs of other agencies to support public wellbeing.  There was a call to concentrate on operational readiness and training before expanding our prevention activities.

Outcome 2 - Our flexible operational model provides an effective emergency response to meet diverse community risks across Scotland.

A ‘flexible operating model’ to meet local need, diversity and risk was very much supported with a caveat by some that local provision is maintained.  There was some uncertainty over this terminology as it was also perceived as cuts by many.  Challenges around maintaining the existing Retained Duty System model were also expressed. 

Like Outcome 1, there was clear support for working more collaboratively with our partners, joint training exercises, sharing lessons learned, and understanding each other’s demands and risks.  There were also similar requests to focus on our core duties, training and standards. 

There was support for the use of technology to assist our response but this should not be at the expense of firefighter numbers.  There were several suggestions that we need better local knowledge in Control Rooms (more in local areas) to ensure efficient deployment of resources. 

Comments indicate that we need to communicate with staff, partners and communities about changes, providing clear evidence for decision making and to share assessment methodologies used.  

Outcome 3 – We are a great place to work where our people are safe, supported and empowered to deliver high performing innovative services.

The strongest support was received for this outcome and supporting objectives.  There was a clear message that we must provide support for and invest in our people.  The inclusion of mental health support within the Plan was commended. 

There was a call from staff to invest in training, increase local training provision and improve learning and development opportunities for all.  There was backing for open communications and increased engagement, but our staff in particular were sceptical that this would happen.

There was significant support for building a more inclusive and diverse workforce. The recent positive action recruitment campaign was however not favourably received by some staff. 

Outcome 4 – We are fully accountable and maximise our public value by delivering a high quality, sustainable fire and rescue service for Scotland. 

Significant support was also received for this outcome and objectives.  It was suggested that being accountable supports local scrutiny and builds public confidence.   Councils noted that local scrutiny arrangements were well received and our support and contribution to Community Planning Partnerships appreciated.  Public and partners however, need to understand more about what we do so that we can work with them better to achieve greater public value.

It was noted that our staff are committed to improving standards and maintaining the highest quality of service provision, but there was a call for more investment in our frontline infrastructure and IT systems.  

The terminology relating to sustainable development was acknowledged and understood by organisations, but others believed this suggested a reduction in resources or cuts and were unclear of its meaning. 

Other General Comments

Lack of funding was highlighted as the greatest concern over our ability to fulfil our objectives, giving rise to fears over station closures and staff cuts.  Concerns were also raised about our ability to respond effectively to our core duties if too much focus was placed on expanding Firefighter roles.  In general, partner organisations expressed faith that we would be able to achieve all we set out to do and had no major concerns. 

In terms of areas that respondents believed we have missed, there was a suggestion that we need to focus more on service delivery, resources, availability and training.  RDS and volunteer recruitment and retention, and delivery of services in rural communities was also a recommended area of focus.  There was a call for us to do more in relation to youth engagement and education, and suggestions we could strengthen our commitment to partnership working, staff wellbeing and environmental protection within the Plan. 

In response to the question could we do more, there was a general suggestion that we do enough already and we should concentrate on core duties and our staff first.   Conversely, there were comments that said we could always do more to address new and emerging needs and risk in communities – more safety education for the young and elderly for example.  We should also communicate more of what we do to help individuals and communities take some ownership or do more for themselves.  There was support for us to work in partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service and to build on existing good working relationships across partnerships.

You can view all the responses where the respondent provided permission to publish them here.

We did

We made changes to the text to provide further clarification or emphasis where appropriate.

Several key areas of concern emerged which do not directly impact on the design and content of the Strategic Plan, but they emphasise the importance of our work in relation to:

  • the need to communicate to the public more about what we do beyond firefighting and why it is important that we need to support our partners more to improve the safety and wellbeing of communities, and evidence our wider impact in society.
  • there is also a need to communicate and engage more fully the detail of actions and changes that will be required to support the delivery of the outcomes and objectives.

To support this, the launch of the Strategic Plan will be followed up with a communication campaign to explain more about our intentions.  We will also take comments into account as we develop the action plans which support the Strategic Plan 2019-22.