Continuing this series of articles to coincide with the current mid-term Technology Refresh of the Central PPE Clothing Contract (previously the ICP), this, the third in the series, reflects on the scope of the original concept and how this will be carried forward for the next period of the CPCC which will run to the end of the contract.
The CPCC concept and its practical application
The clothing contract has always been about much more than firefighter personal protection – the concept being a procurement facility which would allow any fire & rescue service to purchase from a comprehensive range of clothing with the confidence of knowing that every garment has been fully independently tested, graded and approved through extensive and rigorous trials encompassing user ergonomic and comfort assessments as well as the full range of operational scenarios. The benefits of the scheme were, and continue to be, to minimise both the cost and time commitment of individual FRS whilst providing world-leading PPE at a nationally negotiated price providing long-term best value to users, whatever their size and range of requirements. It went further. The CPCC focuses not only on procurement efficiency but longer term cost of ownership. A major component of this cost efficiency is the complete absence of tendering costs which can otherwise prove time consuming, bureaucratic and costly. In addition to this, the contract incentivises Bristol to deliver on time and to ensure firefighters are on the run by a series of KPIs with associated financial penalties. The managed services options available provide garment care programmes to extend service life and ensure protective integrity at all times. Finally, a core component is the availability of a variety of finance options to suit the varying budgetary needs of different authorities.
The PPE element of the CPCC has been well documented in earlier articles and, in the summer of 2015, will be extended by the introduction of an entirely new range of protective garments which will become available to both existing, and new, users from the autumn. The new PPE will be covered in the next article. This article will continue the ‘refresh’ theme by looking at the other components of the scheme – namely the full clothing range as well as the managed services and finance options which make the CPCC the most comprehensive and trialled public sector protective clothing contract ever developed at a national level.
The PPE range
Clearly the most important, and high profile, component of the CPCC is the PPE range which provides firefighter protective clothing for structural and wildland firefighting as well as technical rescue (USAR) operations. This comprehensive range of PPE ensures that all possible needs of any fire and rescue service are fully catered for whilst recognising that the different response needs of principally urban, as well as predominantly rural, operational needs are catered for selectively.
Seven years on from its launch in 2008, the CPCC continues to meet the needs of well over 7,500 firefighters as well as many non-frontline staff through the inclusion of station wear for firefighters, together with a range of ancillary items from FRS ties and beanie hats through to rank markings and safety shoes. Whilst less frequently used, nevertheless Bristol also offers a range of sportswear, corporate wear, ceremonial wear, maternity clothing and faith garments. With all the garments in the range from PPE to all the non-PPE clothing, diversity and equality are fully catered for and appropriate gender sizing is available throughout the different ranges of clothing.
After PPE, the station wear range is the next most commonly used clothing and, by popular demand, was extended in early 2012 by the addition of a navy and red colour option to add to the original grey and red. The complete station wear range includes trousers, shirts, T-shirts, fleeces and a waterproof coat. Continually reviewed by the User Group and Bristol, the head-to-toe range provides for male and female staff within the organisation, as well as catering for the different levels of protection needed for winter and summer.
Lifetime PPE garment maintenance and finance options
The protection given by PPE is independently measured against international standards which provide a measure of the garments’ protective qualities in different risk situations. For the UK, the standard used is EN469:2005 which will, over time, be superseded by EN469:2014 which is due for publication in late 2015.
Over the last 15 years, health and safety considerations have brought major changes to the way in which firefighter clothing is managed and maintained. This reflects the reduction in the level of protection offered by PPE over time either by gradual wear or exposure to flames or physical damage. Specialist managed services have been developed and introduced to afford regular inspection of all head-to-toe garments and to provide washing, decontamination and repair to ensure that the levels of protection provided for under the relevant standards is maintained throughout PPE service life. This process not only helps to prolong service life but clearly identifies end-of-life when garments can no longer be restored to an adequate protective condition.
All CPCC PPE is covered by one of three procurement options which form part of the comprehensive offering and which aim to make purchasing as accessible as possible whatever the FRA’s financial and budgetary requirements.
The Fully Managed Service (FMS) is a PPE lease option which incorporates a fully managed care service and the provision of ceremonial wear for senior officers. Purchase with Managed Service (PMS) provides for the PPE and clothing to be purchased and the fully managed care service for PPE to be provided as required through a menu of choices. Purchase Only (PO) provides for the PPE and clothing to be purchased in the normal way and allows for garment servicing on an ad hoc basis.
The Fully Managed Service and Purchase with Managed Service options feature a range of deliverables. In addition to the basic purchasing package the internally provided services include;
– Garment barcoding
– Computerised scanning to identify individual items to their wearer and track their service history from first issue to end of active life with disposal services
– Inspection, washing, repair and decontamination – as required
– Resilience Management Services – reserve stocks for immediate replacement where required
– Logistics – ensuring that PPE is collected from designated points for servicing and returned within seven days using our own vehicles operating out of two Bristol service centres in Greater London and Bristol.
The options also include contract monitoring by the Crown Commercial Service, measurement of delivery through key performance indicators (KPI) and an abatement regime – all designed to ensure the effective delivery of services. FRAs also have the opportunity to make considerable savings by accessing approved and tested products and services through the CPCC on contracts already negotiated on their behalf. FRAs benefit from the comprehensive in-house design services available from Bristol Uniforms in addition to a well-developed compatibility testing capability to ensure that garments selected are fully compatible with each other for operational integrity.
The original procurement package has clearly demonstrated its advantages to those FRS which have adopted the scheme over the past seven years and have continued to reap the benefits. The mid-term refresh, with the planned addition of a new range of PPE garments, further enhances the user benefits by offering greater choice whilst maintaining the proven benefits of the scheme. Given the continuing pressure on budgets and resources, the less obvious benefits of no entry costs, no ongoing fees and minimal management and staff time input to monitoring and operating the scheme become compelling factors in its favour.
The UK MOD’s Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation (DFRMO) was one of the earliest adopters of the scheme. Barry Lewis, DFRMO’s T/ACFO, Strategic Director Operations, commenting on their experience said, “It became obvious to us early on that the comprehensive nature of the ICP, and the exhaustive programme of testing, trials and concept evaluation, offered the prospect of a fully fit-for-purpose procurement and garment maintenance opportunity. Having signed the contract with Bristol in January 2010, which is a Fully Managed Service contract for the full range of PPE as well as non-PPE clothing, we have had approaching five years’ experience of operating the scheme. This has provided clothing for our firefighters across the UK as well as in overseas theatres as diverse as Cyprus, Afghanistan and the Falklands. We have been well satisfied with the range of benefits which we have gained over previous contracts and, through developing a close working relationship with Bristol at all levels, have found the scheme cost effective to manage and particularly efficient in the way it has kept our firefighters protected at all times with kit that is regularly maintained and always fully fit for purpose. Having personally witnessed the robust and comprehensive nature of the Technology Refresh trials, we are particularly looking forward to seeing the outcome of next generation PPE.”
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