HMI report on Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service
Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Service (HWFRS) has been assessed as 'good' at providing effective emergency response, prevention and protection services, although there is still more work to do on how it can best use its resources to maintain this.
The report of the first inspection of the Service by the newly formed Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), published today, identified areas of good practice – such as the investment in operational training and equipment, together with collaborative working with Police, including the extensive sharing of buildings. In particular, the Service's multi-agency enforcement work with the Police, Trading Standards, HMRC, Environmental Health, Housing, Immigration Service, and the Gangmasters' Licensing Authority, was seen as notable practice.
The report highlighted that the Service could improve how it supports its people to work in a fast-changing public sector environment which has been subject to significant funding cuts over the last few years. It also seeks further improvements in making the best use of limited resources – which the Service anticipates will be delivered on completion of long-standing plans to improve operational efficiencies.
Despite current challenges, the report recognises that HWFRS has been seen to broaden the range of services it delivers to help the most vulnerable in society, and has implemented measures to make the Service affordable now and in the future.
While the findings have shown that HWFRS is effective in delivering its core services and has aspirations to achieve a great deal more, the inspectors recommended that it needs to think about how it can most efficiently balance its limited resources to meet all of the prevention, protection, and emergency response needs of local communities.
Chief Fire Officer Nathan Travis said: "We welcome the report and we are reassured that it aligns very much with our own self-assessment of the Service and the areas that we have already prioritised for improvement.
"We are extremely proud of what our staff have achieved to date under difficult circumstances, and the high quality services they already provide to the people of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Just as importantly, we are committed to maintaining and developing these services still further.
"After spending the last eight years managing the organisation on an ever-decreasing real-terms budget – with around 20% less spending power today than we had in 2010 and a third less people across all areas of the organisation – we have had to make some tough decisions about where our remaining resources are best employed.
"At the same time, we have had to think hard about what we are able to do differently so that we can keep the Service relevant to the changing risks in society and, at the same time, find new ways to add extra value to the public spend."
Fire Authority Chairman Roger Phillips said: "This report is a great benchmark on which to measure the performance of the Service and to help the Fire Authority scrutinise the Service's improvement plans over the coming months and years.
"It is encouraging to see that under the direction of the Fire Authority, the Service has not only managed this unprecedented period of austerity across the public sector, but it has also invested wisely in key areas that will allow it, in the future, to both develop and widen its role and to continue to add value to the fire and rescue services for the residents of both counties."
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Nathan Travis will be available for media interviews about the HMI report on Thursday 20 December 2018 between 10:00-11:30am. Please contact Jill Anthony-Ackery on 07810 056869 to arrange.
The HMICFRS report considered:
- how effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
- how efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
- how well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?
HWFRS is one of two fire and rescue services in the West Midlands in the first tranche of 14 inspected in 2018 – one-third of England's fire and rescue services. The remaining 31 will inspected in 2019.