Looking back

Looking back

Our Community Risk Management Plan provides an overview of fire and rescue-related risks faced by the communities we serve, and outlines how we will address them through our prevention, protection and emergency response activities. It’s our strategy for the next five years to help keep you, your home, your community and your environment safe from fire and other emergencies.

This plan replaces our Integrated Risk Management Plan 2018-2022 (IRMP) and Fire and Rescue Plan 2018-2022.

We will continue to build upon the work already delivered under these plans. We have outlined some of the changes and achievements under these plans below.

Integrated Risk Management Plan 2018-2022


Under our existing Integrated Risk Management Plan achievements we have:

  • improved delivery of home fire safety visits using new working arrangements and training highly skilled staff to reduce the risk of fire to households
  • developed a heritage property fire reduction policy
  • expanded our community engagement and collaboration work with the Police and other partners, including health and social care, to ensure the highest risk individuals can receive our support
  • developed a strategy to support the installation of domestic sprinklers in the highest risk households
  • improved control of fire risk through investment in training for business safety officers to expand our capability in enforcing fire safety legislation
  • developed our relationships with partners who manage high risk sites to manage risk through legal compliance and integrated response plans
  • implemented new firefighting technology, enhancing incident skills and knowledge of operational staff, and providing specific training to ensure they are prepared to deal with flooding, hazardous material and counter-terrorism incidents.
  • shared data with partners and used predictive analysis to target interventions with road users
  • worked with other emergency services to share resources and response to resolve incidents effectively and efficiently
  • implemented an Operational Resource Centre to redistribute surplus capacity to meet forecasted crewing needs
  • reviewed skills and requirements for the role of on-call firefighter and adjusted recruitment process, ensuring positive action is in place to encourage recruitment.

Fire and Rescue Plan 2018-2022


Our Fire and Rescue Plan identified six areas of focus and we have made significant changes and improvements, some of which are outlined below.

Service delivery - how we deliver the best possible prevention, protection and response services to keep our community safe.

For example, we have:

  • introduced a model for centralised prevention and protection activity. This included investing in more home fire safety visit technicians and specialist equipment to tailor solutions to keep those most at risk safe, and investing in more business safety officers to ensure that businesses comply with fire safety legislation
  • developed and implemented a new service delivery operating model. This included investing £3 million in our on-call model to support us to better match resource to risk, relocating Topsham and Budleigh Salterton crews to Clyst St George and Exmouth, moving fire engines and creating new on-call sections at Middlemoor and Clyst St George stations, and removing nine fire engines whilst maintaining operational cover. The new model brought together the four key components of our response capability: staff, the duty systems they work, the appliances used and the stations from which they operate. This has been a contributing factor to improving our risk-based appliance availability, and the wellbeing and retention of our staff, whilst fulfilling our statutory duties
  • collaborated with partner agencies both locally and nationally to improve emergency response
  • established a robust process for managing and implementing risk-critical information including learning from emergencies elsewhere.

People - ensuring we are recruiting, retaining, supporting and developing the best people

For example, we have:

  • developed a people strategy and established a workforce plan to support our new ways of working. This includes improved leadership and management development, new apprenticeship opportunities and encouraging diversity and inclusivity in our workforce
  • introduced a new on-call duty system called Pay for Availability (P4A), which means that we now pay our on-call firefighters by the hour for their availability. Compared to the previous system, this approach allows more flexibility on the hours each person needs to commit to and enhances their pay
  • provided risk-based training and development that is centred on safety-critical elements.

Value for money and use of resources - ensuring that we provide value for money, making the most of our assets, investing in improvement and planning a sustainable future

For example, we have:

  • a medium-term financial plan, and capital and investment strategies that take into account the interdependencies of revenue budgets and capital investments
  • produced an environmental strategy and action plan, and developed an estates strategy that provides the resources needed to deal with risk and maximises the opportunities for shared use, including investing in rebuilding Chagford, Brixham and Plymstock fire stations
  • designed our change and improvement programme around clearly identified cost-benefit analysis
  • reviewed our vehicle fleet to support new service delivery models – we have bought 35 new vehicles including 15 front-line fire engines and 20 specialist vehicles. We identified a need to improve our ability to get to locations off-road, so five of our new specialist vehicles are equipped to deal with this and have improved our wildfire response
  • developed a reserves strategy to indicate how we are investing for the future.

Governance - putting the right information, processes and people in place to help us make the right decisions.

For example we have:

  • improved our governance and programme management arrangements
  • developed a comprehensive communications, consultation and engagement strategy, and also worked with our staff and their representative bodies on changes that affects them
  • introduced a new website
  • developed a performance management culture with meaningful conversations and measurable outcomes
  • published an annual report showing how we are meeting priorities and managing our finances.

Collaboration - seeking opportunities to work better with others to provide an improved service to our shared communities.

For example, we have:

  • built on the work of the Offices for Data Analytics to develop an analytical model to predict locations with an increased risk of dwelling fires and we will be working to share data with other public sector organisations to improve services
  • improved our approach to partnership working across our Service area and have a key role in the South West Emergency Services Forum
  • established Community Responders (on-call firefighters who are also special constables) at three locations in Devon, with the ability to deliver a wider range of services at an overall reduced cost to the public
  • supported the ambulance service by providing firefighters to drive ambulances during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • continued to explore opportunities through strategic partnerships such as Networked Fire Services Partnership.

Digital transformation - making use of technology to provide the information we need in the right way and developing smarter ways of working and thinking.

For example, we have:

  • developed a digital transformation strategy and invested in technology such as video conferencing and applications to help us work more efficiently and effectively
  • implemented a data architecture and improved operational data capture through the single operational reporting tool
  • restructured our business analysis and data architecture teams to support these ways of working.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services inspection


In 2019 we received recommendations from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services on the themes of effectiveness, efficiency and people. Full reports are published on their website.

We developed a comprehensive action plan and some of the areas we have been focusing on include:

  • improving the availability of on-call staff
  • performance against Emergency Response Standards
  • allocating prevention, protection and response resources in relation to risk
  • using operational crews more efficiently to support prevention, protection, and response activity
  • having assurance that operational members of staff meet the minimum fitness requirements to perform their role
  • ensuring that selection and promotion processes are fair, open, and transparent and that feedback is available to staff.

Total incidents attended in Devon and Somerset

This chart shows the total number of incidents in Devon and Somerset that the Service attended each year (2015/16 to 2020/21). The number of fires, false alarms and special services attended is also shown.

Although the total number of incidents we attend may have decreased, the role of the fire and rescue service has evolved. The range of incidents we attend is extremely broad and has increased over recent years, as has the equipment needed to deal with different incident types. For example flooding, biomass fuel plants and electric vehicles.

How this plan has been informed

When preparing this plan, we asked residents, businesses and our staff about the dangers they face and how we could help them feel safer. We did this with an online survey and an online forum, both also available to participate in over the phone. We received nearly 1,700 responses.

We consulted on the draft plan asking to what extent respondents agreed or disagreed with three statements.

  • 71% agreed that the Service identified all the major risks it is responsible for.
  • 63% agreed that the activities the Service continues to and proposes to deliver are appropriate to the identified risks. 
  • 57% agreed that the activities the Service continues to and proposes to deliver do not affect them or anyone else more positively or negatively than other people. 23% neither agreed nor disagreed.

We received around 250 responses to an online survey and by email. We also held focus groups and a paper version of the survey was available on request.

By looking at our data and listening to what our staff, partners and those who live and work in Devon and Somerset have told us, we have sought to identify the key fire and rescue-related risks, and how we will work with our partners and communities to reduce those risks. All of the feedback has been considered and, where appropriate, changes included in this plan.

What you told us Our response
The plan doesn’t include a risk facing my local community or what you will do in my local area.

This is a high-level, strategic plan and does not detail every local risk or activity such as retaining walls, narrow bridges and type of fire engine at individual stations. Specific local risks will be covered in the local risk management plans we will develop for each station area.

Local risk management plans have been added to the actions we have identified to make our intent clearer. We will refer to the local information provided when creating these plans.

There is now greater reference in the plan to the Strategic Risk Analysis, which provides more detailed information about risk.

Rural communities were less likely to agree that all the risks have been identified and that the activities planned were appropriate than those in urban or coastal areas.

We recognise that large parts of our Service area are rural. Whilst not specifically mentioned as a risk in itself, rural communities are considered throughout the plan, and in the supporting Equality Impact Assessment and Strategic Risk Analysis.

We talk frequently about tailoring our service for those most at risk. This includes geographic areas (including rural) as well as groups of people.

Specific risks for rural communities will be picked up in the local risk management plans we plan to develop. 

Young people and education were underrepresented in the draft plan.

We will continue to engage with young people through education programmes and activities including cadets, our firesetter intervention programme and partnership work.

Our prevention activities actions have been updated to reflect this.


Total incident figures (2015-2021)


Total incidents attended in Devon and Somerset

This table shows the total incidents in Devon and Somerset that the Service attended each year (2015/16 to 2020/21). The total is shown along with the number of fires, false alarms and special services attended.

The range of incidents that we attend is extremely broad and has increased over recent years, as has the equipment needed to deal with each incident type.

Financial year Total incidents Fires Special Service False Alarms
2015/16 17789 3994 8710 5085
2016/17 16516 4232 6904 5380
2017/18 19725 4127 9710 5888
2018/19 16392 4640 5949 5803
2019/20 15744 4169 5534 6041
2020/21 14632 3761 4904 5967


Source URL: https://www.dsfire.gov.uk/community-risk-plan/background

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