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Fire Services: Firebuy

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 25 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what process was followed by Firebuy Limited in setting the technical specifications for procurement on behalf of the Fire and Rescue Service; what mechanism is in place to provide assurance in relation to this process; what recent (a) discussions she has had and (b) representations she has received from (i) the Fire and Rescue Service and (ii) others on the (A) procedures and practices, (B) conclusions and (C) overall performance against objectives of Firebuy Limited in relation to the Integrated Clothing Project; and if she will make a statement. (160485)

The Integrated Clothing Project operates under the principles of the Prince2 project management method and is subject to Gateway reviews by the 4ps (Public Private Partnerships Programme) who are the local government procurement experts. Firebuy Ltd. works with the Chief Fire Officers Association, as the professional voice of the Fire and Rescue Service, in the setting of national technical specifications. The testing methodology utilised by Firebuy Limited, for Personal Protective Equipment, has become the benchmark process and is now contained within European Standards.

There have been recent (a) discussions and (b) representation from both (i) Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) and (ii) suppliers to the industry on when the Integrated Clothing Project will be let as this kit is required urgently by some FRAs. It is too soon to comment on the (A) procedures and practices, (B) conclusions and (C) overall performance against objectives as the project has just completed the Stage 3 Gateway Review, which looked at the investment decision.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much Firebuy Limited has spent on determining the (a) items and (b) item specifications of procurement on behalf of the Fire and Rescue Service; and over what period of time such determination was conducted. (160486)

The costs of determining the (a) items and (b) items specifications of procurement on behalf of the Fire and Rescue Service cannot be quantified as separate components within the Firebuy Ltd. budget. These activities are intrinsic to Firebuy Ltd.’s purpose as the national procurement agency which develops user requirement specifications.

Since Firebuy Ltd. was formerly established on 1 April 2006 it has spent approximately £1.5 million per annum on various procurement operations. This expenditure includes staff costs, project scoping, developing specifications, inviting and evaluating tenders from the market and awarding and managing contracts and framework agreements. Firebuy Ltd. has already delivered over £lm savings since September 2005 when it was set up as Company Limited by Guarantee. Expected future benefits for Fire and Rescue Authorities are estimated at £10 million over the next five years.