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East Sussex Fire Rescue scoop two awards at iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards

Date : 17 September 2021


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CFO Dawn Whittaker and ESFRS staff collecting one of the awards

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service went for gold and came away as double winners at the iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards, held in London on Wednesday night. 

We are officially recognised as UK Fire and Rescue Service of the Year 2021 and gold winners in the Data Insight category. 

Our GP Practices project was a finalist for the Data Insight category and we were also nominated as a finalist for the Fire and Rescue Service of the Year category on the basis of the performance of the GP Practices and Behavioural Insights projects. 

The awards ceremony was an opportunity to celebrate and share the most innovative practice in transforming local public services. The ceremony focused on recognising organisations that have successfully developed new ways of working and transforming service delivery.

Fantastic work 

Dawn Whittaker, Chief Fire Officer said: “We should all be proud of all the fantastic work that East Sussex Fire and Rescue do to improve community safety and reduce harm and winning double gold at last night’s awards is the icing on the cake. These national awards are open to all of the public sector and so being shortlisted alone is a huge honour let alone achieving Gold in both categories. 

Both the GP (Data insights) and the ADF reduction (Brighton Tribe) projects have increased awareness and directly contributed to people being safer. So many staff have been involved in delivering this work but I will make special mention of the Community Safety and Communications teams that were integral to these two projects using data and communication in innovative ways."

Lisa Priestman, Community Safety Manager said: “Attending the awards evening was a great honour.  What an achievement to be nominated for two awards but to win them both feels amazing, I couldn’t be prouder of our staff and the service to be recognised for the hard work they put in each year and will continue to provide year on year.”   

Sophie Hepworth, Partnership & Engagement Business Partner- Central said: “Our collaborative work with GP practices enables us to offer home safety visits to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, who can be at an increased risk of an accidental fire in their home.  We are hoping that this award will encourage other GP practices in our area to come on board with the scheme.”

GP Practices

Our aim is to save lives by reaching the most vulnerable – one way we do this is by visiting homes, offering advice and fitting smoke alarms

We wanted to collaborate with a number of GP Practices to share patient contact details without consent through data sharing agreements.

We offered these patients Home Safety Visits, where fire and other potential causes of injury at home that were likely to lead to an unplanned admission to hospital. 

There were 134 fewer admissions to A&E by the first GP Practice we worked with than may have been expected, a reduction of 11%. Visits to the GP by the patients we contacted also dropped by 60%.

Behavioural insights

At the other end of the spectrum we wanted to reach younger people who also had fires but were far less likely to be injured. We wanted to help ensure that everyone in the area has great nights out – and in – but safely.  We created “Brighton Tribe” – a totally new approach for our service. We offered people living in Brighton all kinds of freebies, vouchers, discounts, and a free monthly prize draw to help them have fun.  All they had to do is sign up to join our Brighton Tribe and agree to receive occasional light-hearted safety-related messages from us.

We saw an increase in awareness of fire safety in the Brighton Tribe group, public engagement with our service has increased and we have changed our other communications.

Most importantly Accidental Dwelling Fires reduced during 2019 (449 in total) compared to 2018 (523 in total).  This is the lowest number ever recorded in East Sussex and Brighton and Hove. Injuries and fatalities were also lower.

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