Our Documents section, also known as our publication scheme, houses all the information that the brigade makes available to the public. We use categories (or classes) of information as provided by the Information Commissioner’s Office to organise our documents in line with other government organisations. All of our documents are available in hard copy, too – documents under 50 pages are free, and documents of 50 pages or over cost £5.

Who we are and what we do

Information about the service, locations, contacts and how we’re governed.

Governance
Our fire authority oversees the service and is made up of 27 councillors from the West Midlands’ seven different councils. For the day-to-day running of the service, our Chief Fire Officer, Phil Loach, and our Strategic Enabling Team (SET) plan the organisation’s shape and direction.

Contacting us
We’ve listed the details of all of Our Stations on our website. Our other main contact details can be found in our Contact Us section.

About us
We do much more than fight fires – there’s lots of information about Your Fire Service available on our website. You can also find out more about the Role of a Firefighter and download our anonymised Incident Data for the past year – previous years are in our archive. To help, here’s a glossary of some of the terms we’ve used.

The Statement of Assurance provides evidence of our financial, governance and operational assurance arrangements.

What we spend and how we spend it

Financial information relating to our income and expenditure, how we award contracts and how we procure.

Finance

Our Fire Authority is responsible for the stewardship of public money and prepares an annual Statement of Accounts which provides details of our finances across the organisation. The accounts are prepared in accordance with the Code of Practice on Local Authorities in the UK under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). To enhance our accountability, we also provide a Summary of Accounts which summaries the Fire Authority’s Statement of Accounts. The Statement of Accounts is subject to an external audit and we have also published our annual Audit Findings report.

The Fire Authority needs to ensure that it conducts its business efficiently and that it has sound financial management policies. Financial Regulations set out the financial policies of the Authority and provide the framework for managing its financial affairs. Our Efficiency Plan details how we plan on making savings over the next few years.

As part of the budget setting process which results in a precept to the seven West Midlands local authorities, we produce a Council Tax Leaflet which provides details of our budget and the council tax payable to the Fire Service by residents of the West Midlands.

Land Usage

Our use of local authority land also details the premises we own, and in what capacity.

Staff and Pay

Our staff are able to join one of four unions depending on their role: Unison, the Fire Brigades’ Union, the Fire Officers’ Association or the Association of Principal Fire Officers – you can see the posts, facility time and costs of each in our Trade Union Facility Time publication.

From time to time our staff receive gifts to say thank you for the fantastic work they’ve done. Items or services that go beyond small items such as chocolates or flowers are recorded in our Gifts and Hospitality Register, regardless of whether they are accepted or not.

Our Staff Pay and Grading publication comprehensively describes what financial remuneration our staff receive for the discharge of their duties, as well as the behaviours that are expected. You can also view the Additional Responsibility Allowances policy we have for staff that are ‘acting up’ within this document. (Our new pay award has been agreed for 2016, we are currently working on these figures and will upload this by 1St October 2016.)

The salary information for our senior officers is available in our most recent Statement of Accounts. For added context, you can also view the job descriptions of the Chief Fire Officer, Deputy Chief Fire Officer and Assistant Chief Fire Officer. Follow this link to our Pay Policy Statement and pension discretions.

Procurement

In the interests of fairness and transparency, we follow a number of rules in all of our Procurement processes – there’s further information on this in our How To Do Business With Us publication and our Conditions of Purchase.

Our monthly Contracts Register has details of all of the contracts we award to support us in our work, with further information in our monthly Transparency Report or our Local Transparency Report for tenders or contracts over £5,000. We also have a separate, specific publication for Waste Contracts.

Social Value

The Authority is committed to supporting its local community by using the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 to consider how what is being procured, and how it is procured, might improve the economic, social or environmental wellbeing of the area of the West Midlands. The Authority wishes to encourage Bidders to offer Social Value as part of their tender response in addition to fulfilling the Service or supplying Goods. The Authority has produced information to help Bidders understand more about social value and how it is used as part of the evaluation of bids.

WMFS Social Value Guidance For Bidders

What our priorities are and how we are doing

Our strategy and performance information, plans, assessments, inspections and reviews.

The Plan is our 3-year strategy to Make the West Midlands Safer, Stronger and Healthier, including the targets against which we measure ourselves such as our risk-based attendance standards. Our Statement of Assurance and The Report brings together our key financial, governance and operational assurances and performance indication within one publication

We have an Annual Audit Letter which brings together and summarises the findings from external audit work undertaken by the Audit Commission. You can also review our Peer Challenge Report carried out in late 2016 by fire and rescue and local authority colleagues, using the Operational Assessment (OPA) toolkit, the fire services’ self-assessment tool.

The West Midlands Conurbation Local Resilience Forum produces a Community Risk Register to look at the likelihood and impact of a range of hazards happening. A peer review of the arrangements of the local resilience forum was carried out by Greater Manchester Resilience Forum in 2015.

As part of our commitment to diversity, inclusion, cohesion and equality, we have clear equality objectives which are supervised by the Fire Authority Scrutiny Committee. Under the Public Sector Equality Duty (Equality Act 2010) we’re also required to publish data annually on equality in our workforce – the data supplied is provided voluntarily by all staff and covers protected characteristics. We are required to publish data annually on equality in the workforce, that information can be found in our Workforce Data 2017 Document.

West Midlands Fire Service has also produced an environmental strategy which outlines our approach to how we intend to play a significant role in helping our communities by taking action on climate change to protect and enhance the environment.

How we make decisions

Policy proposals and decisions, including decision-making processes, procedures and consultations.

Public opinion is important to us, and we consult with our communities in a clear and concise manner on decisions that may affect them in an area that they live or work. Consultations will be carried out in order to meet our statutory obligations, to find out what you think and to identify priorities and concerns.

Any consultation undertaken will be informative and open for response for a pre-determined period of time from our communities, businesses, groups and individuals online, via email, post, focus groups or at public consultations meetings.

The results of any consultation undertaken will assist us to understand the needs of our customers and help shape how we deliver our services and campaigns.

Our policies and procedures

Our current written protocols for delivering functions and responsibilities.

Lists and registers

Information held in registers required by law and other lists and registers relating to the functions of the authority.

  • Contracts List – we release a new register each month which can be found in the the ‘What we spend and how we spend it’ section above.
  • Fire Safety Notices – these can be viewed on the Chief Fire Officer Association’s Public Register of Notices.
  • Hospitality List – this is available under the ‘What we spend and how we spend it’ section above.

The Services we Offer

Advice, guidance, booklets, leaflets and media releases.

There is more information on what we offer under ‘Who we are and what we do’

Firefighting and Rescue
The service responds to a number of incidents involving fires, road and rail accidents, chemical hazards and other situations where its expertise and equipment can be used to save lives, reduce suffering or protect property and the environment. For more on how we use our fleet and firefighters to keep people safe, have a look at The Plan.

Fire Investigation and Prevention
Our Fire Investigation and Protection Service (FIPS) is available 24/7 to investigate the cause of fire in a variety of incidents. Officers also work on special projects including arson reduction, human behaviour in fire and information to identify trends in fire causes – all are critical for campaigns and education around fire safety.

The team are also supported by our fire dogs who are able to sniff out fuel or accelerants.

Children and Young People
Our work with Children and Young People is split into three areas. Our Safeside centres in Eastside and Handsworth provide experiential learning on safety issues for children and young people. Our Wise (West Midlands Fire Service in Schools) team work with teachers and schools to educate children on safety issues. We also have our Youth Services section who look after our Young Firefighters’ Associations, Fire Cadets and more.

International Search and Rescue
As disasters and accidents can happen at any time, there’s a need for professional teams to be able to deploy rapidly to assist with search and rescue operations at a moment’s notice. The United Kingdom International Search and Rescue Team (UK-ISAR) is on call 24/7 to respond to humanitarian accidents or disasters anywhere in the world. The role of the team is to support the UK Government when deploying personnel and equipment in response to international disasters such as an earthquakes.

When on an international mission, we send a team of six including a team leader and a Group Commander to act as the Operations Commander or Deployment Commander in charge of UK-ISAR. The team should arrive in the affected country within 24 hours of the disaster occurring and be self-sufficient for up to 10 days.

Business Fire Safety

Legislative Fire Safety
We’re committed to enforcing the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which has repealed most of the previous pieces of fire safety regulations. Our safety At Work section has lots of information for businesses to remain compliant with the law.

Our concern is always for the safety of people, and where possible we will provide education and information to encourage self-compliance to those that are responsible for others’ safety.  In severe cases of non-compliance with fire safety requirements, or where the law is flouted, we will take strong action to protect people from businesses and individuals that present a risk to the members of our community. Our Enforcement Policy details our approach to this, and our Fire Safety Complaints section has information on how to bring fire safety concerns to our attention.

As an enforcing authority of fire safety legislation, we are required by the Environment and Safety Information Act 1988 to maintain a public register of the notices we have served. Our notices are listed on the Public Register of Notices, available on the Chief Fire Officer’s Association website.

Licensing

As a licensing authority under the The Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER14), you’ll need to obtain a licence from us for explosives including fireworks. This is also true if you’re storing, handling or selling petroleum.

Engineering

Our Fire Engineering team deals with complex fire safety matters in proposed new buildings to ensure that, when they’re occupied, the buildings are safe for people in them

Training Courses

We offer a number of Business Training courses in areas including: first aid, fire extinguishers, fire marshalling and operational firefighter training.

Safety and Wellbeing
Our crews provide information on staying safe and well on visits to schools, working in our communities and at events we attend. Our Your Safety section has lots of advice on this, too.

We also offer Safe and Well Checks in homes to ensure there are no immediate fire hazards, provide safety advice, fit free smoke alarms and cover a number of other topics such as mobility, mental health and exercise. We know that all of these areas can be a factor in reducing the risk of fire.

British Red Cross Emergency Response

The Emergency Response service from the British Red Cross is designed to meet the needs of people who have suffered damage to their homes following a fire. Delivered by trained volunteers, they provide practical help and emotional support to vulnerable people affected by an incident.

Volunteers use a specialist vehicle, based at Oldbury Fire Station, which allows them to offer temporary accommodation, signposting to other organisations, the use of a shower and more. The service is available from 7pm until 7am on weekdays, and all day on weekends and bank holidays.

More information can be found on the British Red Cross website, or by contacting Daphne Kirk.

Incident Reports
We make Fire Reports from incidents available at a cost of £85.

Media queries
Our Press Office, fire control and fire stations provide details on a number of incidents using our social media channels. For further details on incidents, you can either e-mail press.office@wmfs.net or call 0121 380 6101. Press releases are published on our website, and details of our organisation’s wide and varied work via social media – search for either West Midlands Fire Service or @WestMidsFire.

Who we work with

Privacy Notice

NHS England, the Royal College General Practitioners and Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) in England work together to ensure preventative resources are offered to those who may benefit most. This is achieved by referrals and the sharing of information (where relevant, proportionate and necessary) to allow fire service personnel to undertake Safe and Well visits. If you require more information about how NHS England use and share your information, please click on the following link: https://www.england.nhs.uk/contact-us/privacy-notice/your-information/

Research has shown that those at high risk from fire death and injury are those who are most likely to impact on a range of NHS services. Safe and Well visits are developed between local health practitioners and FRS’s to meet local health-risk priorities. They therefore represent an intervention which can improve people’s quality of life while reducing demand on critical services.

The majority of fire deaths in the UK occur amongst the elderly population. However older people are most vulnerable to fire and a number of other risks. A Safe and Well visit from the FRS is proven to make them safer and can reduce risk significantly across a range of factors.

In one area of the United Kingdom where this work has been piloted since 2007, there has been a very significant reduction in fire deaths and injuries which has developed into a current trend well below the national average. So we know this work can save many lives.

The FRS and NHS will continue to work together in the future to ensure the visits undertaken by the FRS are effective in helping to make making people safe and well.