DMFD23 Forcible Entry Equipment (FEE) – Hydraulic Door Opener Renewal
Report LFC-0115y to the London Fire Commissioner seeks approval to place orders under the vehicles and equipment contract with Babcock Emergency Services for the replacement of 120 frontline forcible entry tool sets with funding allocated within the Commissioner’s budgets.
The London Fire Commissioner Governance Direction 2018 sets out a requirement for the London Fire Commissioner to seek prior approval from the Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience before making a commitment to expenditure (capital or revenue) of £150,000 or above.
The Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience approves the expenditure of £188,000 for the procurement of Forcible Entry Equipment by the London Fire Commissioner as described by report LFC-0115y to the Commissioner.
Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice
The Forcible Entry Equipment (FEE) hydraulic tools on frontline appliances are coming to the end of their serviceable life and are due for renewal. Report LFC-0115y to the London Fire Commissioner outlines the process that has been undertaken to identify the most appropriate replacement equipment; seeks permission to place orders under the Vehicles and Equipment Contract (VEC) between the London Fire Commissioner and Babcock Emergency Services Ltd; and seeks approval to drawdown on existing funding within the Commissioner’s capital budgets.
Specification and Procurement
Advances in security door technology is a contributing factor to a need to replace existing equipment facilitating forcible entry by firefighters, with existing equipment unable to breach modern high security domestic door sets. An operational requirements specification was submitted to Babcock who worked with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) Technical and Service Support lead to review and determine the Brigade’s operational requirements for forcible entry tools. These include:
• The ability to breach door sets constructed to modern security standards – currently PAS 24:2016;
• To be portable, requiring no more than one person to carry;
• To be usable in confined spaces without producing fumes; and
• To be stowable on the Brigade’s frontline pumping appliances without requiring major modifications to the appliances.
Babcock drew up a procurement strategy which included an evaluation process that was agreed with LFB officers before going out to tender. The procurement evaluation scoring was weighted between two categories: 65 per cent for ‘Technical’ and 35 per cent for ‘Financial’ factors. LFB officers have user tested equipment offered by the bidders under the tendering process.
Following the competitive tender process and evaluation of the tenders, Babcock identified only one bidder that met the requirements by passing all functional tests.
On top of the costs of purchasing the replacement equipment, there will be additional costs to make minor modifications to the frontline Series 3 Mercedes appliances to facilitate their stowage. The cost of these modifications is given in Appendix A of report LFC-0115y to the Commissioner, which is appended to this decision. There are no modifications required for Series 2 Mercedes appliances.
All of the tools evaluated during the tender process operate similarly to the LFB’s current equipment; training implications are minimal and should consist of local familiarisation only.
The identified equipment that preferred bidder offers to provide is made up of:
• A hydraulic hand-pump;
• A length of hydraulic hose covered with a sleeve to reduce the risk of high-pressure oil injection injuries; and
• A door opener tool.
The total of 120 equipment sets are to be issued as follows – 103 to frontline appliances; four to our current training provider Babcock Training; four to the Fire Service College for Emergency Fire Cover Crew training and nine as reserves to support defects and routine maintenance.
The equipment produces a greater spreading force than the current tool.
The equipment is capable of breaching modern high security domestic door sets which are constructed and installed to the PAS 24:2016 standard which have been fitted in numerous properties throughout Greater London.
The equipment can be used in confined spaces without the need to consider respiratory protection for operational staff or casualties.
The equipment remains a hand operated tool which meets our equalities and manual handling requirements and produces no emissions.
The identified equipment is very similar to the operation of the current FEE, so there are no perceived operating training needs other than crews familiarising themselves.
The Public Sector Equality Duty applies to the London Fire Commissioner when they make decisions. The duty requires the Commissioner to have regard to the need to:
a) Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other behaviour prohibited by the Act. In summary, the Act makes discrimination etc. on the grounds of a protected characteristic unlawful.
b) Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
c) Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not including tackling prejudice and promoting understanding.
The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, gender, and sexual orientation. The Act states that ‘marriage and civil partnership’ is not a relevant protected characteristic for (b) or (c) although it is relevant for (a).
The Commissioner’s equality impact assessment (EIA) undertaken within the tender evaluation process found that the proposals in this report will not have an adverse effect on any persons with a particular characteristic. This was principally based on the Output Based Specification (OBS) being developed based on the end-users’ needs. In particular, the aspect of manual handling was assessed against the user group and the identified equipment is both lighter and easier to handle – offering greater inclusivity to different segments of the workforce – than the equipment currently in operational use. This equipment would be able to be operated by all staff in that user group.
The Commissioner’s arrangements with Babcock Emergency Services Ltd requires Babcock and any sub-contractor they may engage, to conform to equality legislation and the Commissioner’s equalities protocol. Babcock assess all of their providers approach to equality and ensure they are satisfied that they meet appropriate protocols, prior to listing those companies as approved providers.
The identified FEE sets are emission free which supports the Commissioner’s target to reduce CO2 emissions by 60 per cent from 1990 levels by 2025. Further, Babcock is contracted to manage the disposal of the old sets in line with the waste management hierarchy: prevent, reuse, recycle, recovery (e.g. energy) and disposal.
Report LFC-0115y to the London Fire Commissioner requests the approval for the replacement of the Forcible Entry Equipment (FEE) at a cost not exceeding £173k with an additional £15k to allow for the modification of the Series 3 Mercedes pumping appliance stowage.
The approved fleet capital replacement programme includes the budget of £162k in 2019/20 to replace the hydraulic door opening equipment. This allocation was originally £183k but was reduced when the preferred bidder’s tender price became known. If this purchase is funded from borrowing and based on a useful life of 10 years, the annual revenue debt charges will be £21k, being £16k for the repayment of borrowing and £5k in interest payments at a projected rate of three per cent. No additional funds are sought or required from the Greater London Authority.
Under section 9 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017, the London Fire Commissioner (the "Commissioner") is established as a corporation sole with the Mayor appointing the occupant of that office. Under section 327D of the GLA Act 1999, as amended by the Policing and Crime Act 2017, the Mayor may issue to the Commissioner specific or general directions as to the manner in which the holder of that office is to exercise his or her functions.
By direction dated 1 April 2018, the Mayor set out those matters, for which the Commissioner would require the prior approval of either the Mayor or the Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience (the "Deputy Mayor").
Paragraph (b) of Part 2 of the said direction requires the Commissioner to seek the prior approval of the Deputy Mayor before “[a] commitment to expenditure (capital or revenue) of £150,000 or above as identified in accordance with normal accounting practices…”.
The Deputy Mayor's approval is accordingly required for the London Fire Commissioner to place orders with Babcock Emergency Services for forcible entry sets and vehicle modifications.
The statutory basis for the actions proposed in this report is provided by Section 7 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, which states that fire and rescue authorities must secure the provision of the equipment necessary efficiently to meet all normal requirements. The proposals in this report are in line with the provision of services under the Commissioner’s contract with Babcock Emergency Services.