Minutes of Meeting of The Highland and Islands Fire Board held in the Chamber, Highland Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Thursday, 7 June 2012 at 1.30 p.m.
1. Interim Chairman
The Clerk presided at the meeting, being the first meeting of the Board following the local authority elections, until the Board elected its Convener (item 5(i) below refers).
There had been circulated and was NOTED Report No. Fire-31-12 (38kb pdf) dated 24 May 2012 by the Clerk giving the details of the substantive and substitute representatives appointed to the Board by the Constituent Authorities in terms of paragraphs 3(1), 4(3), 4(4) and 4(7) of the Schedule to the Northern Combined Fire Services Area Administration Scheme Order 1995 as follows:
Representing The Highland Council
Mr R Balfour, Torran Gorm, Cantray, Croy, IV2 5PS (01667) 493457
Mr I Brown, 104 Drakies Avenue, Inverness, IV2 3SD (01463) 248924
Mrs I Campbell, Coach House, Glenshiel, by Kyle, IV40 8HW (01599) 511461
Mrs H Carmichael, Hawthorn Villa, 25 Ferry Road, Beauly, IV4 7EA (01463) 782555
Mr D Fallows, Top Flat, Mackenzie’s Butcher’s, Main Street, Newtonmore, PH20 1DA (01540) 673966
Mr E Hunter, 11 Glendessary Street, Caol, Fort William, PH33 7BT (01397) 703918
Mr D Mackay, 2 Wilson Terrace, Thurso, KW14 8AH (01847) 891621
Mr G MacKenzie, 19 Drumdyre Road, Dingwall, Ross-shire, IV15 9RW (07557 566547)
Mrs B McAllister, 17 Harris Road, Damfield, Inverness, IV2 3LS (01463) 710558
Mr D Millar, Ibrox, 6 Carndearg Place, Portree, IV51 9PZ (01478) 612895
Mr F Parr, 56 Grigor Drive, Inverness, IV2 4LS (01463) 248784
Mrs M Paterson, Craiglea, Craig Road, Dingwall, Ross-shire, IV15 9LF (01349) 864424
Ms G Ross, 62 Argyle Square, Wick, KW1 5AJ (07557 480847)
Dr A Sinclair, Carnmore, Badicaul, Kyle of Lochalsh, IV40 8BB (01599) 534970
Ms K Stephen, 11 Meadow Road, Balloch, Inverness, IV2 7JR (07557 566551)
Mr J Stone, Knockbreck House, Tain, IV19 1LZ (07557 566548)
Mr A Baxter, 12 Riverside Road, Kinlochleven, Argyll, PH50 4QH (07557 566540)
Miss J Campbell, 39 Leachkin Avenue, Inverness, IV3 8LH (01463) 226598
Mr A Duffy, 47 Craigton Avenue, Inverness, IV3 8AZ (07557 566538)
Mr J Ford, 12 Moraypark Avenue, Culloden, Inverness, IV2 7LS (01463) 792646
Mr C Fraser, West Wing, Bellvue House, Church Street, Cromarty, IV11 8XA (01381) 600871
Mr L Fraser, Fallowdene, Marine Road, Nairn, IV12 4EA (01667) 452950
Mr K Gowans, 16 Westfield Brae, Westhill, Inverness, IV2 5TL (07557 744401)
Mr M Green, Duncrievie, Seabank Road, Nairn, IV12 4HA (07557 566553)
Mr R Laird, 4 Maple Drive, Inverness, IV3 5RJ (07557 566552)
Mrs I McCallum, Belmaduthy, Munlochy, Ross and Cromarty, IV8 8PF (01463) 811045
Mr A MacKinnon, Maybury, 17 Braes of Conon, Conon Bridge, Dingwall, Ross-shire, IV7 8AX (0463) 861424
Mrs M Davidson, Abriachan Nurseries, Kilialan, Loch Ness Side, Inverness, IV3 8 LA (07557 566543)
Ms L Munro, 3 Achnabourin, Strathnaver, Kinbrace, Sutherland, KW11 6UA (01641) 521779
Mr G Rimell, Broomlea, Golf Course Road, Newtonmore, PH20 1AT (01540) 673430
Mr R Saxon, 73 Upper Burnside Drive, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 7XB (07557 566554)
Mr H Wood, 14 Kennedy Drive, Scorguie, Inverness, IV3 8QR (01463) 712530
Representing Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Mr I MacKenzie, 7 Ceum A’Bhealaich, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2UB (01851) 703956
Mr N M MacLeod, 16 Eagleton, Lower Bayble, Point, Isle of Lewis, HS2 0QD (01851) 870707
Mr K Murray, Carnan House, Shawbost, Isle of Lewis, HS2 9BD (01851) 710437
Mr C Nicolson, Leybourne House, 20 James Street, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2QN (01851) 703325
Mr A Macleod, ‘Lightcliffe’, Swordale, Point, Isle of Lewis, HS2 0PB (01851) 870484
Mr J Mackay, Glebe House, South Dell, Ness, Isle of Lewis, HS2 0SP (01851) 810523
Mr R Mackinnon, 284 Daliburgh, Isle of South Uist, HS8 5SS (01878) 700543
Mr G Murray, 10 Cearn Fhlodaidh, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2YH (01851) 704241
Representing Orkney Islands Council
Mr A Drever, Orkavoe, Holm, Orkney, KW17 2RY (01856) 781307
Mr H Johnston, Brettovale, Knarston, Dounby, Orkney, KW17 2HZ (07718 100245)
Mr A Clouston, Schoolhouse, Orphir, Orkney, KW17 2RF (07718 100239)
Mr B Stout, Gaila, 4 Meadow Park, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1FN (07718 100237)
Representing Shetland Islands Council
Mr A Cooper, Linga, Mossbank, Shetland ZE2 9RB (01806) 242468
Mr A Duncan, 1 Hillock, Dunrossness, Shetland ZE2 9JR (01950) 460821
Mr M Bell, Edgcott, 34 St Olaf Street, Lerwick, Shetland, ZE1 0SR (01595) 692643
Mr C Smith, Faravel, Bousta, Sandness, Shetland, ZE2 9PL (01595) 870702
3. Calling of Roll and Apologies
Representing the Highland Council:
Mr R Balfour
Mr I Brown
Mrs I Campbell
Mrs J Campbell (substitute)
Mrs H Carmichael
Mr D Fallows
Mr J Ford (substitute)
Mr L Fraser (substitute)
Mr R Laird (substitute)
Mr D Mackay
Mr F Parr
Ms G Ross
Dr A Sinclair
Ms K Stephen
Mr J Stone
Mr H Wood (substitute)
Representing Comhairle nan Eilean Siar:
Mr I MacKenzie
Mr N M MacLeod
Mr K Murray
Mr C Nicolson
Representing Orkney Islands Council:
Mr A Drever
Mr H Johnston
Representing Shetland Islands Council:
Mr A Cooper
Mr A Duncan
Officials in attendance:
Mr M Holme, Deputy Chief Fire Officer (Foundation Services)
Mr S Edgar, Deputy Chief Fire Officer (Service Delivery – Seconded)
Mr M Jenks, Deputy Assistant Chief Officer (Head of Corporate Services)
Mr B Wilson, Deputy Assistant Chief Officer (Service Delivery)
Mr S Hay, Community Risk Manager, Highland and Islands Fire and Rescue Service (HIFRS)
Mr D Smith, Area Manager Programme Manager – Strategic Support Officer (Seconded), HIFRS
Mr B McLintock, Group Manager, HIFRS
Ms D Sutherland, Corporate Communications and Administration Manager, HIFRS
Mrs M Grigor, Treasurer’s Office
Ms M Morris, Clerk
Mrs R Moir, Assistant Clerk
Ms L Lee, Clerk’s Office
Mr S Taylor, Clerk’s Office
Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mr E Hunter, Mrs B McAllister, Mr G MacKenzie, Mr D Millar and Mrs M Paterson, The Highland Council.
4. Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
5. Appointment of Convener and Vice Convener
The Board was advised that, in terms of Paragraph 6(1) of the Schedule to the Northern Combined Fire Services Area Administration Scheme Order 1995, it was required to appoint a Convener.
Members were advised that the Board’s usual practice was to take votes for appointments by ballot, but that if Members so wished, the voting could be by show of hands. Ms G Ross, seconded by Mr R Laird, moved that the vote be taken by show of hands. Mr L Fraser, seconded by Mr A Duncan, moved as an amendment that the vote be taken by ballot.
On the vote being taken, the motion received 9 votes and the amendment received 15 votes. Nominations for Convener were therefore taken by ballot.
Ms G Ross, seconded by Mr D Fallows, nominated Mr F Parr, The Highland Council.
Mrs H Carmichael, seconded by Mr C Nicolson, nominated Mr A Drever, Orkney Islands Council.
In a vote by ballot between the two candidates, Mr Parr received 11 votes and Mr Drever received 13 votes.
The Board therefore AGREED to appoint Mr Drever as Convener of the Board and that remuneration for this post would be £28,410, in accordance with the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004 (Remuneration) Regulations 2007.
Mr Drever then took the chair.
ii. Vice Convener
The Board was advised that, in terms of Paragraph 6(1) of the Schedule to the Northern Combined Fire Services Area Administration Scheme Order 1995, the Board was required to appoint a Vice Convener.
Members were reminded that the Board’s usual practice was to take votes for appointments by ballot, but that if Members so wished, the voting could be by show of hands. Mr R Laird, seconded by Ms G Ross, moved that the vote be taken by show of hands. Mr L Fraser, seconded by Mr A Duncan, moved as an amendment that the vote be taken by ballot.
On the vote being taken, the motion received 9 votes and the amendment received 15 votes. Nominations for Vice-Convener were therefore taken by ballot.
Ms G Ross, seconded by Mr D Fallows, nominated Mr F Parr, The Highland Council.
Mrs H Carmichael, seconded by Mr C Nicolson, nominated Dr A Sinclair, The Highland Council.
In a vote by ballot between the two candidates, Mr Parr received 10 votes and Dr Sinclair received 14 votes.
The Board therefore AGREED to appoint Dr A Sinclair as Vice Convener of the Board and that remuneration for this post would be £21,308, in accordance with the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004 (Remuneration) Regulations 2007.
6. Sub-Committees and Joint Consultative Group
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-32-12 (35kb pdf) dated 25 May 2012 by the Clerk recommending that a number of Sub-Committees be established, together with a Joint Consultative Group, and seeking appropriate appointments. There was tabled Report No. Fire-32a-12 (19kb pdf) dated 7 June 2012 by the Clerk advising Members of the remit and membership of the Board’s previous Working Groups.
Having APPROVED the recommended scheme of Sub-Committees and Joint Consultative Group as set out in Report Fire32/12, appointments were AGREED as follows:
i. Grievance and Pensions Appeals Sub-Committees:
Convener, R Balfour, I Campbell, G Ross, D Mackay, I Mackenzie, A Duncan.
ii. Discipline Sub-Committee:
Vice Convener, M Paterson, I Brown, H Carmichael, K Murray, H Johnston, A Duncan.
iii. Chief Officer Appointments Sub-Committee:
Convener, Vice Convener, R Balfour, C Nicolson, A Cooper.
iv. Joint Consultative Group:
Members were advised that the constitution of the Joint Consultative Group provided for the appointment of four elected Members. Following appointment of the Convener and Vice Convener, four nominations were received for the remaining two places: Mr D MacKay, Mr F Parr, Mr C Nicolson and Mr A Cooper.
There being two vacancies, Members were entitled to vote for up to two persons. On a vote being taken, Mr C Nicolson received 15 votes, Mr A Cooper 14 votes, Mr F Parr 11 votes and Mr D MacKay 6 votes. There being no outright majority, Mr MacKay, having received the lowest number of votes, was removed from the nominations. On a vote being taken between the remaining three candidates, Mr Nicolson received 15 votes, Mr Cooper 14 votes and Mr Parr 11 votes.
Mr C Nicolson and Mr A Cooper were therefore appointed to the Joint Consultative Group in addition to the Convener and Vice Convener.
Having been advised that the Board had also previously appointed four alternate Members, Mrs H Carmichael, Mr D MacKay, Mr F Parr, and Ms G Ross were appointed as alternate Members.
With reference to Report 32a/12, the Board also AGREED that the Best Value and Audit Working Group and the Service Improvement Working Group be re-established that day rather than at the August Board meeting. Appointments were made as follows:
i. Best Value and Audit Working Group:
Convener, Vice Convener, R Balfour, D Fallows, E Hunter, D MacKay, F Parr, M Paterson, G Ross, N Macleod, H Johnston, A Cooper.
ii. Service Improvement Working Group:
Convener, Vice Convener, I Campbell, D Fallows, E Hunter, F Parr, K Stephen, I Mackenzie, H Johnston, A Cooper.
7. Corporate Governance
Members AGREED to adopt the Board’s:
i. Standing Orders relating to the Conduct of Meetings, as approved by the Board at its meeting on 13 May 2011;
ii. Scheme of Delegation to Officers, as approved by the Board at its meeting on 28 January 2011, updated to incorporate subsequent specific Board decisions;
iii. Financial Regulations, approved by the Board at its meeting on 30 March 2012; and
iv. Contract Standing Orders, approved by the Board at its meeting on 30 March 2012.
The Board also AGREED that an electronic copy of the web-links to these documents be emailed to Members.
8. Recess Powers
Members NOTED that the recess powers granted by the Board at its meeting held on 30 March 2012 had not required to be exercised.
9. Minutes – 25 April 2012
There had been circulated and were APPROVED Minutes of Board Meeting of 25 April 2012.
10. Best Value Audit - Discussions with the Accounts Commission and Audit Scotland
The Board at its meeting on 25 April 2012 agreed that discussions with the Accounts Commission and Audit Scotland on the recent Best Value Audit of the Board be deferred until after the Local Government elections, to enable the discussions to be held in public. Members were advised that, following discussions with the Accounts Commission, 21 June 2012 had been identified as a potential date for the meeting, subject to Board agreement. The meeting could be held in public in Highland Council Headquarters on this date, but not in the Council Chamber. Webcasting would therefore not be available.
Members were of the firm view that the meeting should be webcast, or, if this was not possible, held at another venue, and that the meeting should take place before the summer recess. Moreover, the proposed date coincided with important meetings at a number of the Constituent Authorities and the 21 June was therefore not suitable.
The Board AGREED that an invitation be extended to the Accounts Commission and Audit Scotland to attend a webcast Special Meeting of the Board prior to the summer recess to discuss the findings of the Best Value audit.
11. Independent Review – Update
The Board at its meeting on 19 March 2012 had agreed that an independent investigation be carried out into the sequence of events, actions and exchanges that had led to the present challenges facing the Service and the Board. The Board had further agreed that the investigation should be undertaken by the Internal Audit section of a Local Authority other than the four Constituent Authorities, with technical assistance provided by an independent Senior Fire Officer, to be nominated by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Advisory Unit.
The Clerk reported that, in response to requests made, two Local Authorities had declined to undertake the review and a reply was awaited from a third. In view of the length of time the process was taking, Members discussed alternative options for carrying out the review. Arising from this, concerns were raised as to whether Standing Orders should be suspended, given that less than six months had elapsed since the Board’s previous decision. The Clerk advised that, in her view, suspension was not required as the Board’s core decision was that an independent review be carried out was not being changed. What was now being discussed was the most practical means to implement this core decision, in light of the difficulties being encountered. Some Members, however, expressed the view that it would be appropriate to suspend Standing Orders.
Mr A Cooper, seconded by Mr A Duncan, moved that Standing Orders be suspended. On a vote being taken, 14 Members supported the motion. There being 22 Members present at the time of the vote, the 2/3 majority required was not reached and, accordingly, Standing Orders were not suspended.
Mr L Fraser, seconded by Mr N Macleod, moved that the Board approach Highland Council’s Internal Audit and Risk Management section to ascertain whether they could undertake the review. Mr H Wood, seconded by Mr R Balfour, moved as an amendment that the Clerk continue to search for a further two months for an external Local Authority able to assist, and thereafter, if no external assistance was found, to approach Highland Council’s Internal Audit and Risk Management section to request that they undertake the review.
On a vote being taken, the motion received six votes and the amendment received 16 votes. The Board therefore AGREED that the Clerk continue to search for a further two months for an external Local Authority able to assist, and thereafter, if no external assistance was found, approach Highland Council’s Internal Audit and Risk Management section to request that they undertake the review.
12. Schedule of Meetings
The Board AGREED to meet on the following dates:
• Friday, 31 August 2012
• Friday, 30 November 2012
and NOTED that dates for 2013 would be proposed at a future meeting, taking into account progress on transition to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
13. Revenue Budget Update
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-33-12 (38kb pdf) dated 29 May 2012 by the Deputy Chief Fire Officer - Foundation Services providing Members with an update in respect of the planning assumptions for the revenue budget 2012/13.
The Deputy Assistant Chief Officer (Head of Corporate Services) summarised the report, drawing attention to the changes made within the overall budget as a result of funding being re-directed to meet the training and safety audit requirements identified over recent months. In this regard, Members expressed thanks for the support received from the Scottish Government and other Scottish Fire and Rescue Services.
The provisional year-end out-turn for 2011/12 indicated that there would be a £250,000 underspend. Ministerial approval had been obtained to carry this sum forward into revenue reserves for 2012/13, to assist in accelerating the Safer Firefighter Programme. Reserves therefore currently stood at £467,000. However, a significant number of wildfires had occurred over the June Bank Holiday weekend, the costs of which had the potential to impact on reserves. Members would be apprised in due course of the costs of the wildfires.
Confirmation was given that the Board’s earlier decision that, in view of the low levels of reserves held by the Board, additional funding be requested from the Scottish Government was being taken forward by the Peer Support Team. Progress would be reported to the next Board.
An explanation having been given that the increase in the budget for Risk Information was due to purchase of software for use in vehicles, the Board NOTED:
i. the revised assumptions in respect of the 2012/13 revenue budget
confirming that the Safer Firefighter Programme could be delivered within
the financial envelope already agreed by the Board; and
ii. the support and resource being provided to the Highlands and Islands Fire
and Rescue Service by the Scottish Government and other Scottish Fire and
14. Performance Reports – Fourth Quarter 2011/12
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-34-12 (20kb pdf) dated 29 May 2012 by the Deputy Chief Fire Officer - Foundation Services (DCFO-FS) summarising the Service’s performance for the period 1 January to 31 March 2012. The Performance Reports referred to in the report had been circulated separately. The DCFO-FS explained the reasons for changes in recorded progress against targets for the Service Plan Programme and Community Safety Activity. Measures were in place to implement the actions required.
Having been advised that a breakdown of false alarm statistics would be provided to Members outwith the meeting, the Board otherwise NOTED the performance report for the fourth quarter 2011/12.
15. Station Sustainability
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-35-12 (41kb pdf) dated 29 May 2012 by the Deputy Chief Fire Officer - Foundation Services (DCFO-FS) providing information on the sustainability of stations in line with the Board’s agreed criteria and additional activities being undertaken to manage risk within the Highlands and Islands.
The DCFO-FS reminded Members that the Board had agreed at its meeting on 19 March 2012 that “one size did not fit all” – absolutes varied between stations and Best Value and Wellbeing were considered on a case by case basis. However, national fitness standards had to be met, and it was necessary that Firefighters be able to commit to the required training. The approach taken to assessing sustainability encompassed prevention and protection as well as intervention; the Service was working with the Peer Support Team and the National Risk Assessment Team in this regard.
The report identified a number of stations which were causing concern in terms of sustainability. Attempts to address the issues at these stations had been made for some considerable time, but no resolution had been found. It was the Service’s aim to support every station that was sustainable, and every avenue would be looked at to achieve this, including extensive consultation with stations, the community, community leaders, Ward Members, Board Members, Local Authorities and, where appropriate, the business community. Progress reports would be brought quarterly to the Board, and would indicate where consultation was ongoing, or where a final decision required to be made.
In response to questions, Members were advised that, whilst there was a contractual requirement for Firefighters to complete the required training, managers aimed to work with and encourage Firefighters in this regard – enforcement was only used as a last resort. The aim was to achieve a sustainable station. The difficulties for Firefighters in travelling from remote locations to attend training were recognised; however, in some cases, e.g. where particular equipment was used, training had to be carried out at centres.
In discussion, it was asked whether consideration had been given to day-crewing as a possible solution for stations where sustainability issues stemmed from crews being unavailable during the day. The DCFO-FS confirmed that this option had been investigated, but the model did not provide a solution due to the locations of the stations with day-time cover issues. Members were also advised that day-crewing was more expensive than retained cover.
Having APPROVED the ongoing assessment of station sustainability, the Board NOTED that:
i. a report would be submitted to the August Board meeting on the
outcome of the analysis and engagement carried out on the stations
identified in Table 1 of the report;
ii. further reports would be submitted to the Board regarding the sustainability
of its stations; and
iii. the delivery of training to personnel in remote areas would be included on
the agenda for JCG meetings; JCG minutes would be reported to the Board.
16. Safer Firefighters Programme
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-36-12 (140kb pdf) dated 29 May 2012 by the Deputy Chief Fire Officer – Service Delivery (DCFO-SD) updating Members on the Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service ‘Safer Firefighters Programme’.
The DCFO-SD summarised the main points of the report. The training programme had commenced and the previous four months had gone a long way to reducing risk. 87% of Firefighters had received breathing apparatus (BA) or fire behaviour (FB) training in the previous 12 months.
Members welcomed the progress. In response to questions, the DCFO-SD provided further information on station banding and time extensions for BA training. Future quarterly reports would include figures as to numbers awaiting training in addition to training provided. Communications with staff were ongoing and the response had been very positive - there was a clear desire to ensure sustainability. The potential commercial use of the Sumburgh training facilities would be explored; however, the Service’s own training needs must remain the priority. With regard to concerns that Road Traffic Collision courses would not be run until after October 2012, the DCFO-SD gave an assurance that the staff attending RTC incidents were well trained already and a conscious decision had been taken to focus initially on BA and FB training.
The Board NOTED the update.
17. Legislative Fire Safety Audits
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-37-12 (39kb pdf) dated 29 May 2012 by the Deputy Chief Fire Officer – Service Delivery (DCFO-SD) advising Members on recent activity to ensure that Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service (HIFRS) completed fire safety audits on ‘high risk sleeping premises’ within the Highlands and Islands.
A strategy for carrying out the audits was in the final stages of development and would be presented to the August Board meeting. High risk premises were being given priority. The report provided figures of audits completed in April 2012. The rate of audits would accelerate as internal and external capacity increased; the DCFO-SD was confident that the 1401 audits required in 2012/13 would be carried out. Figures for the first quarter would be brought to the August Board meeting.
In response to questions, Members were provided with information on evacuation procedures for Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, and given assurances that the Service liaised with the Police with regard to identification of unlicensed Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – such properties were inspected by the Service. Fire safety in prisons was a matter for the Crown, and came under the auspices of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Advisory Unit, rather than HIFRS.
The Board NOTED the report and the information given.
18. Fire and Rescue Service – Transitional Framework
There had been circulated Report No. Fire-38-12 (25kb pdf) dated 29 May 2012 by the Deputy Chief Fire Officer - Foundation Services advising Members of the national guidance to Fire Board Authorities during transition to a single service for Scotland. The Transitional Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland 2012 (268kb pdf) replaced the Fire and Rescue Framework for Scotland 2005, and set out the actions that Fire and Rescue Services were to carry out in preparation for the Single Service. Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service would conduct a gap analysis to determine its level of compliance.
The Board NOTED the publication of the Transitional Framework and the Service’s existing preparedness for the transitional period to April 2013.
The meeting ended at 4.00 p.m.