Agenda and draft minutes

The Retained Duty System (RDS) Task and Finish Group - Monday, 9th May, 2022 10.30 am

Venue: County Hall, Chichester, PO19 1RQ

Contact: Monique Smart on 033 022 22540  email:

No. Item


Appointment of Chairman

The Group to appoint a Chairman to facilitate the meeting and provide a summary of the outcomes at a future meeting of the Fire and Rescue Service Scrutiny Committee


1.1     Cllr Kevin Boram was appointed Chairman of the Task and Finish Group (TFG).


1.2     The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.


Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 44 KB

The Group to note the Terms of Reference


2.1     The Committee noted the Terms of Reference.





The Retained Duty System Discussion

The Group to consider:


1)   The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the current WSRS RDS structure;

2)   Review the current performance measures;

3)   Review the current recruitment, induction and retention procedures for RDS

4)   Consider the relationship between a flexible and resilient RDS model and the WSFRS emergency response standards



3.1     The Chairman referred to section 3 of the Terms of Reference and the four areas for the TFG to form conclusions and recommendations.  He stated that the TFG were not given an opportunity to consider the detail of all these areas but during an informal pre meeting last week they had agreed to look at five or six suggestions that officers have put forward as achievable.


3.2     Peter Rickard, Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO), added that the Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) did look into many of the areas highlighted by the TFG and that would be the longer-term project.  This TFG would look at issues that could be achieved in the shorter term.


3.3     The Committee thanked the officers that took the time to explain their roles and issues around the Retained Duty System (RDS) at the informal pre meeting.  That information had enabled the Committee to have an informed discussion today.


3.4     The ACFO also added how proud he was of the RDFs in West Sussex and that all those he had meet had been professional, dedicated individuals.  The Chairman agreed with those comments and recognised their valuable role within the service.


3.5     One issue raised in the pre meeting, that the Chairman wanted to highlight today, had been the importance of the relationship between Retained Duty Firefighters (RDFs), WSCC and the RDFs main employers.  The Committee were surprised to hear that RDFs did not have the same rights as others such as the Territorial Army (TA) and that the Fire Service did not have something similar to an Armed Forces Covenant.  The Cabinet Member, Cllr Duncan Crow, agreed to take this up via the LGA Fire Group as it was a national issue. Cllr Jack Pendelton stated that as the Armed Forces Champion she was very happy to support this initiative.


3.6     The Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) and Neil Fairhall, Station Manager, with support and input from a number of officers working in various roles across the service, went on to detail the areas of improvement that they would welcome acknowledgment and support from the TFG.


Performance Measures


3.7     Core Measures around availability should be retained.  However, in addition a new Service Measure could be introduced to show service availability.  The purpose of which would show that all contribute to the service. 


3.8     The Committee welcomed and supported this new Service Measure and agreed it would be a good and clear indicator for the  public to understand.




3.9     A more flexible training system.  Currently the majority of training that RDFs need to undertake is offered on a Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm basis.  It was suggested this could be extended to offer evening and weekends.  For RDFs this could be easier to manage around other commitments.  The committee considered the positive impact that the new training centre would have in respect of flexibility and improved training resources.


3.10   It was noted that RDFs undertake initially two weeks training and then additional days for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Conclusions and Recommendations

The Chairman to summarise the discussion of the Group and collate the recommendations.  A full report will be subsequently drafted and reviewed/agreed virtually by the Group, with the final version included on the agenda of the next Fire and Rescue Serve Scrutiny Committee in July 2022.


4.1     In conclusion the Committee supported the following:


•        Introduce a new Service Measure to show service availability.  Core Measures around availability be retained.


•        A more flexible training system offering weekend and evening training options and possibly more online content if appropriate. Any cost increases would be reported back to the Committee.


•        Utilise F&RS staff to maximise potential and allow non-response staff to move across departments with the F&RS and undertake retained duty. 


•        Look into options to standardise or amalgamate pass out parades. In addition, ensure pass out parades for those missed during the Covid 19 pandemic be arranged.


•        Develop RDFs and allow them to gain skills outside of response, such as Business Fire Safety. 


•        A commitment to keeping barriers away from allowing RDFs to move to Whole Time.


·                Recognise the importance of the role of Employers.




4.2     Further Actions from the TFG included:


·                The ACFO will investigate if Medicals could be offered outside of normal office hours and report back to the TFG.

·                The ACFO would provide the TFG with a figure for how many RDFs are retained after the two-year probation period. 

·                Monique Smart to look into whether any ‘find it out days’ could be arranged for Members to give them a better understanding of the training and commitment needed by RDFs.