Ian Hayton, Chief Fire Officer of Cleveland Fire and Rescue Service (right) and a representative from INEOS Nitriles.
Win-win for Teesside
Published: 14 September, 2012
A UK fire brigade is capitalising on its expertise to offer its experience to the industrial sector – and profits are being invested in community safety initiatives, writes Ann-Marie Knegt.
Cleveland Fire and Rescue Service (UK) has felt the pressure of the budget cuts like any other brigade. However, instead of implementing efficiency savings, it looked at how it could maximise its existing skill set and capitalise this on a commercial basis.
After the history and skills of the brigade were reviewed there was a natural leaning to one particular area, as a result of the brigade having the UK’s largest industrial complex, Teesside, right on its doorstep. Chief Fire Officer Ian Hayton explains that it was found that value could be added to asset protection in the petrochemical industry. ‘Twelve percent of COMAH (Control of Major Accidents Hazards) sites in the UK are located in Teesside, and have been there for years. In addition to heavy industry, there is also a nuclear power station. Plus we have the busiest trading port in the UK and a commercial airport located in the area.’
He adds that from a public risk management perspective the brigade faces some of the highest levels of deprivation in the community in the UK as well. The experience gained from managing all these risks over the years had placed the FRS in an excellent position to develop its skill set further and apply their experience to the commercial sector.
In April 2011, the FRS set up a commercial trading arm, called Cleveland Fire Brigade Risk Management Services CIC (CFBRMS). This community interest company is a social enterprise which means that profits are invested in community safety initiatives. ‘This business model locks in any surpluses, and all profit that we make is redirected towards improving safety in our community in Teesside, whether it is domestic, commercial or industrial. The whole essence for us as a fire and rescue service is to ensure that everyone in Teesside is safe, but equally we aim to safeguard employment and services,’ explains Ian. The new Risk Management Service is aimed at the petrochemical industry, but doesn’t just focus on Teesside, as CFBRMS has already carried out work in Saudi Arabia with Hawkes Fire, a provider of specialist industrial firefighting equipment, where it delivered expertise to a large petrochemical complex. ‘We looked at the ability of the plant to meet reasonable foreseeable operational incidents, and we advised them on response structure, equipment and training. We evaluated the existing system and provided consultancy on how they could enhance their arrangements for safety and asset protection.’
CFBMRMS provides the same type of service as other outsourcing response/consulting organisations. The services that can be delivered range from initial consultancy, specialist advice and guidance, to continuous improvement in health and safety on petrochemical sites. All this includes looking right across the board in terms of service delivery arrangements, safety arrangements, testing arrangements, creating the appropriate emergency plans across sites and risk assessments for onsite planning. Ian adds: ‘We can also provide asset protection continuity, while we ensure that businesses remain viable and operational at the same time, so that these processes are safeguarded on and off the site.’
Recently the newly-formed social enterprise company won a multi-million pound contract with INEOS Nitriles, one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of plastics. As a result of winning this contract, CFBMRMS will be providing 24-hour emergency cover at the company’s Seal Sands facility at Teesside.
Ian Hayton is delighted with the contract. ‘Obviously, our tender provided a value-for-money solution, which gave INEOS the opportunity to uphold the existing standards of excellence on site and receive a first rate fire and emergency support scenario. From a corporate responsibility perspective the company sees its money assisting the local community and environment.
'It is a win-win situation where commercial contracts benefit the community, as the commercial party gains an enhanced professional service, and quite clearly the local area receives community safety services that are continuing with support of the industry. It is a full circle.’
For the provision of equipment, including high capacity pumps and monitors, the company works closely with a number of partner agencies. Hawkes Fire is one of the providers of specialist equipment geared towards responding to petrochemical incidents. Many sites present at Teesside have their own emergency response teams as mandated by the Health and Safety Executive’s directive for the provision of a safe system of work. ‘Equipment is provided through these teams under a mutual aid scheme. However, if an incident escalates to a scale that would be beyond the scope of the petrochemical facility, the main responsibility would be redirected to the municipal fire service.
‘We have to maintain a clear line between the commercial arm and the provision of a public fire and rescue service. Our clients do not want to pay twice, and neither do we. CFBMRMS’ arrangements with industry are the same as with all the other outsourcing companies in Teesside.
‘One of our selling points, however, is that the system we operate onsite and offsite is the same, and this is highly beneficial for cooperation between our commercial department and our public service provision, because there will be a consistency in approach,’ comments Ian.
Teesside’s mutual aid group is highly coordinated, and all parties – FRS, private response companies, facilities – have a multi-agency and multi-organisational approach in responding to any incident that may occur on these high-hazard sites. Cleveland Fire and Rescue Service coordinates the mutual aid group. ‘One of the main benefits of this scheme is that there is a collective approach to buying foam and equipment, rather than dealing with this on a plant-by-plant basis.
‘In Rotterdam there is also a very close relationship between the municipal fire service and the industry. We are at the forefront within the UK fire and rescue service, and not only because of the move towards commercialisation of our expertise – which is what we are doing with the establishment of our trading arm – but also due to our journey to step out of the public sector and move into the social enterprise sector,’ concludes Ian.