Councils, police and fire services in Wales join up to automate home safety checks
An initiative is to go live in Wales linking councils’ Adult Social Care and Fire and Rescue Services’ data to automatically trigger domestic fire safety checks to save time, reduce human error and help to prevent fatal incidents.
Fire safety checks are carried out in people’s homes by fire officers to make occupants aware of potential risks and put together a plan in case a fire breaks out.
The scheme includes all properties where those known to Adult Social Care live, in areas covered by Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue, Dyfed Powys Police and Ceredigion, Carmarthen and Pembroke County Councils.
Starting in the coming weeks, if successful, the initiative will be rolled out across the whole of Wales.
“There are documented cases where properties known to adult social services have not been passed across to the relevant fire and rescue service and resulted in injury or a fatality,” said Tony Bracey, Project Manager at Joint Emergency Services Group (JESG) Wales, the organisation behind the initiative.
Existing methods of transferring information in relation to home fire safety checks have been found to be unreliable and time-consuming. Data transfer between the two systems takes around 15 minutes for Adult Social Care departments and 30 minutes for fire and rescue services teams - a “conservative” estimate, according to Bracey.
“In some areas, there are arrangements in place for Adult Social Care to inform their appropriate fire and rescue service of addresses that they felt should receive the safety check”, he said. “However, the approach is not consistent across Wales and certainly not automated, relying upon emails or calls, subject to human error”.
The pilot has not required the procurement of any new systems and uses the unique property reference number (UPRN) as a common identifier. “The UPRN ensures that the addresses on both systems are identical so there is no need for complicated cross-referencing. Using the UPRN means that no personal information needs to be exchanged”, Bracey said.
At the end of each working day, the home addresses of people in Adult Social Care databases in need of a fire safety check are included in an automated message to inform the fire and rescue service system. The message triggers an alert to the appropriate local fire authority to make a free home fire safety check as soon as resources become available.
Bracey said that the time savings will also allow Adult Social Care to concentrate on other aspects of care and fire and rescue services to be proactive in the targeting of free home safety checks “rather than taking a ‘blanket approach’ to identify vulnerable properties”.
The approach is also under consideration by Local Resilience Forums for use in other forms of emergency response.
A decision on rolling out the free home fire safety check initiative across Wales will be discussed in the coming weeks, as stakeholders including the Welsh Government assess the benefits, costs and funding.
Read related coverage: Emergency response schema ‘national infrastructure’ planned following Welsh roll out.