Consideration has also been given to other sources of risk information or sources of risk relevant to our Service. These include:
The risks the UK faces are continually changing. The Government monitors the most significant emergencies that the UK and its citizens could face over the next five years through the National Risk Assessment (NRA). The National Risk Register (NRR) is the public version of the assessment.
This is a multi-agency partnership that provides a structure to help agencies plan and work together to prepare for major incidents and emergencies which may have a significant impact on the community. While emergencies are unlikely, it is useful to understand the types of risks in North Yorkshire. By understanding these risks, we can ensure that we have either taken steps to mitigate the risk or if that cannot be done, taken steps to monitor and respond to it should it happen.
Within North Yorkshire the Local Resilience Forum undertakes a review of the national risks and those risks facing the county. A ‘Community Risk Register’ has been developed that highlights potential hazards in our area.
The top three risks are:
- Pandemic Influenza: an influenza type pandemic remains the highest assessed natural hazard which has a significant impact on our communities;
- Flooding (Coastal, Fluvial and Surface water): this is the most common and widespread natural disaster and can occur from the sea, rivers and from continuous and/or abnormal rainfall levels. The highest flooding risk is surface water flooding which happens when drainage systems are unable to cope with the volume of rainfall; and
- Adverse/severe weather: we experience a wide variety of weather systems and the impacts are varied from heavy rain, snow and ice to shortage of rain and drought along with a wide range of temperatures.
Although we are not a specified authority under the Counter Terrorism Act, we still have an important role to play in preventing people becoming drawn into terrorism.
CONTEST is the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy. The aim of the strategy is “to reduce the risk to the UK and its interests overseas from terrorism so that people can go about their lives freely and with confidence”. The success of this strategy is not linked to total elimination of the terrorist threat, but to reducing the threat sufficiently to allow people a normal life free from fear.
The CONTEST strategy is comprised of the ‘four Ps’ – Prevent, Pursue, Protect, and Prepare. It aims to reduce terrorism at all levels through: Preventing more people from being radicalised; Pursuing suspects operationally and legally; Protecting the public through security measures; and Preparing to manage the response to mitigate the impact of an inevitable attack.
The UK national terrorism threat level at the time of publication is substantial.
The term “heritage building” is a broad one; however, it is likely to be a building of significant historical and architectural interest likely to contain articles of historical value.
There are approximately 13,000 buildings listed as Grade 1 or 2 in North Yorkshire and the City of York. Although the number of these sites in comparison to domestic dwellings is few, we recognise the unique risk they pose if involved in fire.
Such buildings may be publicly or privately owned, managed by charitable bodies, trusts, or other types of bodies. There are, therefore, no typical ownership and management arrangements for these types of premises.
A fire in any type of building can be disastrous but in the case of a heritage building there is a further dimension; the loss of property that forms part of the nation’s cultural heritage which is irreplaceable.
Older buildings can pose a greater risk of fire spread due to building materials and methods as they do not have the same level of compartmentation and fire stopping features as modern buildings. However, renovation and improvement works must be to modern standards which reduces risk. Heritage buildings also have considerable risk management plans to further reduce the risk and likelihood of fire and impact.
North Yorkshire and the City of York do not have a significant amount of heavy industry compared to our regional neighbours. There is however a substantial commercial base including tourism, service and hospitality and specialised industry in particular supporting banking and finance, pharmaceutical and medical and data warehousing.
We have two sites within the county that are classified as Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) sites. COMAH sites pose a potential risk to society, firefighters, environment, and the economy should an incident occur. These higher risk sites are visited by our crews for familiarisation and to gather information that might be needed if an incident occurs. Business fire safety has a risk-based inspection programme for premises.
The North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Area covers seven Borough and District councils and the upper
tier authorities of North Yorkshire County Council and the City of York. All have proposed plans for their respective areas regarding infrastructure developments.
We monitor these development plans and factor into the community risk profile any impact that these developments have on risk.
New housing and residential developments meet modern fire standards including the installation of hard wired fire detection. We link our Protection teams and our Prevention services as part of a person-centred approach to fire safety in domestic premises and the impact on local services and amenities where we can support community resilience.
NYFRS has a robust process for identifying new premises that could pose a risk to firefighters during an incident.
The identification of specific premises/sites is via a wide range of sources, including:
- NYFRS Risk Profile and existing premises/sites
- Health and Safety Executive
- Local Authority Emergency Planning Departments
- COMAH sites
- Other emergency responders
- Neighbouring Fire and Rescue Services risk information (risks within 10 kilometres of our county borders)
We monitor government and local political decisions which can have an impact on the economy, community and environment and impact on the risk in the county.
An example of this is the announcement in July 2021 that the current county, district and borough councils would be replaced by a new single council for North Yorkshire in April 2023 with City of York Council remaining as it is. North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is well connected with the existing authorities and will remain actively engaged in seeking future opportunities for collaboration in any new structure.
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire has responsibility for the Service budget, which comprises a combination of central government grants and the set amount of money that people pay through their council tax for fire and rescue services (the fire and rescue precept).
About a third of funding comes from the Government while two-thirds is raised locally through the fire and rescue precept. We have no flexibility to increase our precept beyond the current cap of 1.99%, which is below inflation.
NYFRS is required to operate in line with several pieces of legislation. Anticipated Government proposals on Fire Service Reform and recent changes to fire safety legislation will potentially impact of the way we deliver our services.
Any changes to legislation or shift in priorities has implications on the way that we deliver our services. For example, following the tragic loss of 72 lives at Grenfell Tower, London, in 2017 the Government provided additional funding to all fire and rescue authorities to carry out an assessment of high-rise residential buildings.
Societal change including demography, employment, and cultural attitudes and behaviours, shape the way we need to deliver our services to ensure we are effectively targeting, engaging with and supporting our communities in the best way possible. It is important for us to understand these changes so we can plan and prepare for long term changes to how we deliver our services.
For example, the Covid-19 Pandemic has allowed many people to work from home or vary how they run businesses. Many will not revert back to the pre pandemic patterns and we anticipate more people looking to relocate to North Yorkshire from other parts of the country as this ‘agility’ to work remotely increases.
The way we fuel our cars, power and heat our homes, the devices we use for work and leisure are significantly different to only ten years ago.
Technology is changing at such a rapid pace it is nearly impossible to keep up with. As industry and commerce adapt to this it will present us with new challenges and opportunities.
We are committed to ensuring that we operate as an environmentally conscious organisation.
Changes to environmental legislation and the pledges and commitments made by Central Government will have an impact on us as we strive to make our buildings and fleet compliant.
So what does this tell us?
- Environmental factors and the impact of climate change are likely to continue to be a major influence to changes in the risk within our county.
- As society changes, the nature of the risk will change, which will require us to adapt our interventions.
- Innovation is being developed and introduced in firefighting and rescue equipment and techniques.
- We will need to keep up with the pace of technological advancement to ensure that we are best placed to deliver our range of services in the modern world.
- Heritage buildings present a special risk in our area, but the risk is very well managed and we have plans in place as to how we respond.