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About West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service

How fire and rescue services are run and monitored.

1 How West Sussex Fire Authority is run

West Sussex Fire Authority was constituted under section 4 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004. It is responsible for making sure that the West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (WSFRS) performs efficiently and in the best interest of the public and community it serves.

Fire and rescue authorities in England have a duty to regard the Fire and Rescue National Framework for England. This sets priorities and objectives in connection with the discharge of their functions:

Who acts as West Sussex Fire Authority

Full Council is the Fire Authority and has delegated executive powers of the Fire and Rescue Authority to the Cabinet.

Contact us to find out more

2 How fire service performance is monitored

The Cabinet Member meets regularly with the Chief Fire Officer and sets clear strategic objectives for the fire service. These are included in the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP)

Overview and scrutiny of the fire service is the responsibility of the Fire & Rescue Service Scrutiny Committee (FRSSC). Fire service matters, including performance data, are considered at committee meetings, which can view online.

To find out more about West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, please read our annual report.

3 Our drone and how we use it

The drone (unmanned aerial vehicle) helps us survey an incident from above, providing live images and thermal imagery. By providing an aerial view of an incident, drones help incident commanders develop tactics to help tackle it.

Drones may also be able to access areas which are unsafe for firefighters. Overall, they improve safety for our crews and help improve our response to incidents.

The thermal imaging camera can detect heat sources and may be used to:

  • check the temperature of cylinders at risk of exploding
  • monitor heat spread in a warehouse fire
  • spot casualties in water.

There are two cameras that can be fitted to the drone:

  • A high-definition camera for image photography and video recording.
  • A thermal imaging camera that detects heat.

A robust privacy impact assessment and mitigation has been created to prevent filming or photography that is not required.

Drone operators

In order to operate the drone, a drone pilot must have completed a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) accredited training course and carry out extra training for more specialist uses, such as night flying.

The drone is operated by a minimum of two people - one who pilots it and one who operates the cameras. Whenever possible, a third person will also attend to help with setting up and acting as an observer for any hazards.

Drone flight restrictions

As part of the ‘Permissions for Commercial Operations’, and also as responsible drone operators, WSFRS will always ensure that the drone is flown:

  • within the line of sight of a remote pilot
  • below 120 metres in height
  • at least 50 metres from people, property, vehicles and vessels WSFRS is not in control of
  • 30 metres away from people during take-off
  • clear of any aircraft, airports and airfields.

We have a General Exemption E4506 of the CAA Air Navigation Order to fly the drone outside of the normal commercial operations under emergency conditions. These form part of the CAA's drone code and all responsible drone users will fly within these guidelines.

Our operations will include responding to all incidents as detailed in the Fire and Rescue Services Act.

Record retention

The drone will only capture photographic images or video footage if there is an organisational need. Any image or video that is taken at an incident is reviewed and either destroyed if not required, or put into a robust digital storage system, which is covered by a data retention policy.

When the drone is being flown the drone pilots will always wear fire service uniform to clearly identify themselves.

Detailed records about all flights, images and footage captured and any other information about the drone that is required by the CAA are maintained.

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  • West Sussex County Council will only use this email address to respond to any issues raised.

Last updated:
10 June 2021
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