As the New Dimension contract approaches its sixth year, it’s clear to see the ways in which the partnership between Babcock, the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Chief Fire Officers Association National Resilience (CNR) Ltd has evolved, delivering innovation, resilience and cost savings in the way the equipment and vehicles are managed. More recently, Babcock has supported CNR, as it worked 24/7 to help the flooded communities across the country including Somerset, Berkshire and Surrey.
Managing the New Dimension equipment
The 16-year fleet management contract supports the New Dimension Programme which was set up by the Government after the September 11th 2001 attacks. The Programme, managed by DCLG and assured by CNR, ensures that England and Wales’ Fire and Rescue services are able to cope with major emergencies on a national scale, such as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and conventional terrorist incidents, as well as dealing with large scale incident support.
The 400 vehicles and 175,000 stock items of equipment are stored at locations across the country and operated by the 46 Fire and Rescue Services. Babcock’s support helps ensure the number of available assets never drops below an essential level and that the National Resilience capability is prepared in the event of major incident. It is a partnering approach which has yielded real benefits.
In delivering the service, Babcock remains fully accountable to DCLG throughout the 16 year contract, for which DCLG has engaged Crown Commercial Service (CCS) to manage on its behalf. CCS contract managers review and monitor performance against key performance indicators and work closely with Babcock and CNR to identify opportunities to improve the service and value for money.
Supporting through national emergencies
The floods in early 2014 have been documented as the worst for some 250 years – impacting thousands of people and changing some of the country’s landscape for ever. Day after day the headlines of the national media were dominated by the extreme weather. Key to recovery at this time was FRS expertise and capability – utilising more than fifty high volume pumping units (HVP) that Babcock maintains.
In supporting its stakeholders over this period, Babcock put in place a dedicated team to support HVP equipment within the Somerset Strategic Holding Area to manage flood reduction activities. The National Resilience equipment came from Fire and Rescue Services across the country including West Midlands, Derbyshire, Berkshire, Merseyside, Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire.Babcock’s Networks business also provided a unimog vehicle to help enable its engineers to reach equipment in the more inaccessible areas.
As the weather worsened in areas, so did the challenges of dealing with the impact on the environment. In West Cornwall, for example, the flooding of the disused Wheal Jane mine threatened the local water supply. To assist in preventing contamination Babcock assisted CNR by arranging for a specially built cradle to be placed down one of the shafts to support the submersible pumps. This provision was supported 24/7 throughout the incident by a mobile maintenance unit.
Delivering real benefits
Working together in the project teams has delivered some real benefits including developing additional HVP capability for dealing with ‘deep seam’ flooding.
Savings on tyres
Whilst maintenance of the New Dimension equipment is critical to securing resilience, Babcock, CCS and CNR work together to look for ways to deliver the same service for less. One of the most costly items on the equipment maintenance bill for the New Dimension contract is tyres and a joint team was set up to look at how to reduce costs when the current tyre became obsolete, working in consultation with the FRS Transport Officers’ Group.
National exercises & events
Babcock and CNR work closely together in looking at vehicle and equipment requirements for national exercises and events. Not only do these help to test people, logistics and processes, but they provide an excellent opportunity to check on equipment performance under pressure – something that normal maintenance checks can’t always test.
Core to the success of these exercises is not just the support leading up to and during the exercises, but in ensuring that all equipment is recovered, fully operational and secured within the right location for its next critical use.
Brian Ward, National Resilience Officer for the National Resilience Assurance Team (NRAT) said, “The support that Babcock provides is critical to our operation, enabling us to focus our resources where it’s needed such as dealing with the widespread floods earlier in the year. It also provides a full view, at any point in time, of our equipment and the cost across the whole organisation.”
Mark Burgess is Business Development Director for Babcock’s Critical Resilience & Emergency Services