The RFU welcomes the news that the Home Secretary has confirmed that HMIC is to be the new inspectorate for the fire and rescue service in England from July 2017.
The Home Secretary has also recommended to HM The Queen that Sir Thomas Winsor be appointed as HM Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services, with the expectation that HMIC will inspect the fire and rescue service with the same rigour as it currently inspects the police.
HMIC’s name will change to reflect their new responsibilities to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
We understand that HMICFRS will develop their inspection methodology to incorporate any lessons that will be learnt from the Grenfell Tower tragedy to promote improvement across fire and rescue services.
Over the next few months the Inspectorate will recruit candidates from across the fire and rescue service to formulate new inspection teams. We have stressed to HMICFRS and the Home Office of the importance of recruiting the right people to these teams, some of whom will need to fully understand the needs and capabilities of the Retained Duty System to ensure that this part of the service is being given the necessary support to fulfil its potential.
Consultation with the service and stakeholders on the inspection framework and programme, as well as the inspection methodology will also begin and be in place before starting the first tranche of the rounded inspections. The Inspectorate is then likely to move to a risk based approach once all 45 fire and rescue services have been inspected.
The RFU has lobbied hard over recent years for an ‘Ofsted style’ inspection regime to be introduced within the Fire Service, due to witnessing a deterioration of transparency, accountability and appliance availability. We hope that the introduction of the new inspection teams will help to improve such matters to the benefit of our members and we will work with the new Inspectorate in these objectives.