HMICFRS - Tranche 3

HMICFRS Inspection, Tranche 3 - Our Response

The Inspectorate have today published their third and final set of reports within the first cycle of Fire and Rescue Service Inspections. As was the case with the previous two, it’s a mixed bag of ‘Good’ and ‘Requires Improvement’.

Noticeably and the service which has caught the attention of the media is the report for London Fire Brigade (LFB) which is pretty grim reading. For such a well-resourced service to have serious concerns over incident command and driver training (to name but two) is beyond belief. More generally speaking the other reports highlight the poor availability of On-Call appliances and the cultural concerns which were also identified in both of the other tranches. Those services with a less than complimentary report will try to focus on the positives, blame previous regimes, privately say that the reports do not reflect the service that they work in and blame a lack of resources for any poor performance.

The sector doesn’t respond very well to criticism, even if it is constructive, it has become accustom to the self-congratulatory culture that has existed for far too long and has bred apathy in management practices. Our view is that to improve, and we should all want our fire and rescue services to improve irrespective of the contents of their report, you have to focus on the areas of poor performance and learn how to do things better. Fire Service culture should focus on every aspect being as ‘good’ as possible, developing firefighters and managers that inspire, motivate and lead their peers and their communities. At this present time we are a long way off from this in our view.

On a positive note, there is certainly some really good work being undertaken in some areas and all services are full of enthusiastic and willing firefighters on the ground, that needs to be harnessed and create a working environment that allows managers to be progressive, innovative and problem solving both individually and collectively rather than people being afraid to make a decision or step outside of normal protocols.

One final thought, in previous years on numerous occasions, we have gone on record asking for a ‘Watchdog’ to be introduced to the FRS and we welcomed the introduction of the HMICFRS. If the inspectorate had not been introduced, we believe standards would have continued to fall. Chiefs, elected members and the government need to quickly realise that broadly speaking, the FRS in England is not is a good place and needs reform.   

We will be raising this very point at our next meeting with the Fire Minister, the status-quo is not an option.