HMICFRS Tranche One Inspection Reports

For the first time in 12 years the fire and rescue sector has been independently inspected, with HMICFRS having undertaken 14 inspections in fire and rescue services across England.

The Association has for many years called for the introduction of a truly independent inspectorate due to the concerns of our members that the emergency provision in some services simply was not of an adequate standard. These concerns have been borne out by the conclusions of HMICFRS in their reports of a number of services that have been inspected.

The firefighters in all services are quite rightly held in high esteem by the public, undertaking a duty that most are unable to even contemplate, choosing instead to put their lives and health at risk while serving the public and providing protection to their communities.

It is therefore concerning that eight out of 14 services inspected require improvement and one is inadequate in the way they protect the public through the regulation of fire safety. Fire services must promote fire safety, including fire prevention. The reports suggest that prevention has reduced due to budget restraints, if this is the case, it is imperative that this downward curve is corrected immediately.

Community engagement in general terms is also lacking, this comes as no surprise to serving firefighters who have witnessed a reduction in various events previously attended due to either a lack of willing volunteers or funding. With less flexibility and goodwill being offered by the services it is no wonder that such an approach is being mirrored by establishments that have continued to be reduced year-on-year.

There are also positives from the inspections, firefighters believe that they have the appropriate equipment and training, again this comes as no surprise as funding has always been made available for frontline resources and the quantity of training if anything is at the high end of the scale.

Our main focus from this tranche of inspections is services inability to manage and look after its people. As a union we have never been busier with casework involving poor people management at its highest ever.  We believe that our members deserve better treatment by their managers than is currently the case, for a number of services to be judged ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’ when it comes to looking after its people is simply unacceptable. The fact that the inspections have finally brought out into the open these failings is a positive step.

Over the coming weeks we will further analyse the contents of each of the inspections reports in greater detail and respond to each FRS individually. As is always the case with the Association, we are willing to work with any fire and rescue service to help improve the workforce environment for all staff and we will keep this offer open indefinitely and strive for improvement across the fire and rescue sector.

Once all fire services in England have been inspected HMICFRS will publish its first ‘State of Fire’ report in December. The inspectorate is then expected to make recommendations about the changes needed across the service in these future reports.

We very much welcome the involvement of HMICFRS in an attempt to drive improvement across all areas of all services in England to the benefit of our members and public safety.

Tristan Ashby
Chief Executive Officer

Overview of judgements:

How effective are the services at keeping people safe and secure?

Number of FRSs with a ‘Good’ judgement – 10

Number of FRSs with a ‘Requires Improvement’ judgement – 4

How efficient are the services at keeping people safe and secure?

Number of FRSs with a ‘Good’ judgement – 8

Number of FRSs with a ‘Requires Improvement’ judgement – 5

Number of FRSs with an ‘Inadequate’ judgement – 1

How well do the services look after their people?

Number of FRSs with a ‘Good’ judgement – 3

Number of FRSs with a ‘Requires Improvement’ judgement – 10

Number of FRSs with an ‘Inadequate’ judgement – 1