In the year since last September, the interest in, and uptake of, the products and services provided under the ICP has continued to develop. During this period, responsibility for managing the Integrated Clothing Project transferred from Firebuy to DCLG in April this year.
Not only have six of the nine fire services which have opted for ICP to-date taken delivery of their new garments during the past 12 months, but several have extended the range of clothing being used. The value of the ‘integrated’ characteristics designed into the project has been increasingly recognised as the project has matured. This has resulted in PPE only contracts being extended to include station wear. It has also seen Purchase Only (PO) contracts being upgraded to Purchase with Managed Service (PMS).
Gloucestershire, Dorset, Warwickshire and Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Services have all deployed their new PPE since the start of 2011. Avon FRS introduced their new station wear in July. Staffordshire FRS, who took delivery of their ICP station wear in 2010, has also opted for Bristol’s PMS. Gloucestershire FRS has recently decided to extend its ICP contract to include station wear for its 550 firefighters, scheduled for deployment in April 2012. Avon FRS, which took delivery of its station wear in July, has graduated from a Purchase Only to a Purchase with Managed Service contract. It is planning to extend this to include PPE by the autumn of 2012.
Some 6,100 firefighters are now equipped with ICP PPE, with this number expected to increase by around 1000 within the coming year. One in eight firefighters are now regularly wearing ICP PPE for their personal protection and one in six are wearing either PPE or station wear or both.
Philip Tasker, Bristol’s National Sales Manager, said: “For all fire and rescue services, procuring their PPE through the ICP was a major step. You could say a step into the unknown, as this is the first time in the UK fire service’s history that a national procurement facility has been made available to them.
“For some, this meant an initial cautious approach, as it was a case of testing out how the benefits offered in theory would work out in practice. The fact that a number are now extending their commitment to the ICP by broadening or deepening their contracts is further evidence that the benefits to individual services are now being more fully recognised. It is less than two years since the first ICP clothing was deployed. That this level of uptake has been achieved in that time reaffirms our belief in the long term benefits of the project”.