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lowest grading in this tranche. It was also ‘Inadequate’ in the judgement that looked at fire regulation. The inspectors returned to Avon in October but with only four months to make changes, Avon was not going to be able to do much bar add some temporary capacity to the team. The Inspectorate will return to Avon in July 2019 ‘to make sure the contents of the action plan have been addressed and the service provided to the public of Avon has improved’. (See pg 38 for CFO Mick Crennell’s comments on what the service is doing in response). Over in Surrey, the picture is equally as gloomy. With the sudden and unexplained loss of CFO Russell Pearson in August last year, Surrey was the only fire and rescue service in this tranche to be judged ‘Inadequate’ for the Efficiency pillar. The inspection report set out this cause for concern: ‘Surrey Fire and Rescue Service doesn’t use its resources efficiently to manage risk or its financial and physical resources effectively to keep people safe’. They too faced a second visit from HMICFRS in October. Commending Surrey for putting in place resources and governance for the action plan to address the concerns, they wanted to see more progress being made. Like Avon, the Inspectorate will visit Surrey again in July 2019. The only other fire and rescue service to be judged ‘Inadequate’ was Cornwall, joining Avon with the same grading under the Effectiveness pillar. The Inspectorate expressed its serious concerns about Cornwall’s ability to respond to fires and other emergencies. In this fundamental area of fire and rescue service business, the Inspectorate notes under its cause of concern: ‘It is sometimes slow to update mobile data terminals with risk information. Staff often rely on paper records. Staff in the critical control centre aren’t confident in the ICT systems which show availability of staff and fire engines. This leads to increased resources being mobilised or delays in attending incidents’. The Inspectorate did not return for a revisit – perhaps only an ‘Inadequate’ for the whole pillar warrants such action – but given what is set out here, Cornwall is going to need a lot of support to bring itself up to scratch.

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Where to start? A look at the first tranche of inspection reports

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‘Most fire and rescue services are good at keeping the public safe from fire and other emergencies, but there are concerns about how services carry out protection duties and the environment in which their staff operate’. FIRE Correspondent Catherine Levin reports on the Inspectorate’s first tranche of reports

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ust before Christmas, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published 14 individual fire and rescue service reports and a summary of findings of tranche one. The timing of publication was terrible, but this does not detract from the fact that this is a big deal. There is a vast amount of information contained in these reports that requires a lot of careful consideration and even more action to get all fire and rescue services up to the same standards. The headlines on the day of publication focused on reductions in the number of fire safety audits carried out by fire safety officers in commercial buildings. This is a post-Grenfell response that sees fire protection rightly highlighted, but there are many other areas of interest in these reports which are set out under each pillar. Here FIRE touches on some of the most interesting findings.

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Key Findings The first tranche is made up of a mixture of combined and county fire and rescue authorities. No fire and rescue service was graded ‘Outstanding’ for any individual pillar; in fact, only Lancashire got an ‘Outstanding’ judgement at all and that was for values and culture. Lancashire and Cambridgeshire have the best grades overall. Avon and Surrey have the weakest grades with the other ten services ranging in between. The People pillar has the largest number of low grades and indicates a real need to improve, but this is really no surprise. It was inevitable that Avon would not do well having been inspected under different arrangements just one year before. FIRE covered the reboot of Avon Fire and Rescue Service in March 2018 under the new stewardship of now CFO Mick Crennell. Avon was judged ‘Inadequate’ for the People pillar, the only fire and rescue service to receive the

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Three Pillars of Inspection The inspection and the subsequent reports are structured under three pillars: 1. How effective is the service at keeping people safe from fire and other risks? 2. How efficient is the service at keeping people safe from fire and other risks? 3. How well does the service look after its people?


Government & Politics Table 4: Effectiveness inspection judgments for each fire and rescue service Effectiveness

Understanding the risk of fire and other emergencies

Preventing fires and other risks

Protecting the public through fire regulation

Responding to fires and other emergencies

Responding to national risks

Avon

Requires improvement

Good

Requires improvement

Inadequate

Requires improvement

Good

Bedfordshire

Good

Good

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Good

Cambridgeshire

Good

Good

Good

Good

Good

Good

Cheshire

Good

Good

Good

Good

Good

Good

Cornwall

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Requires improvement

Inadequate

Good

Hampshire

Good

Good

Good

Requires improvement

Good

Good

Hereford & Worcester

Good

Good

Requires improvement

Good

Good

Good

Hertfordshire

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Good

Good

Isles of Scilly

Good

Good

Good

Requires improvement

Good

Not inspected

Isle of Wight

Good

Good

Good

Lancashire

Good

Good

Good

Lincolnshire

Good

Good

Good

Surrey

Requires improvement

Good

Warwickshire

Good

Good

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Service

Requires improvement

Good

Good

Good

Good

Good

Requires improvement

Good

Good

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Good

Requires improvement

Good

Good

Making best use of resources

Making the fire and rescue service affordable now and in the future

Avon

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Bedfordshire

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Cambridgeshire

Good

Good

Good

Cheshire

Good

Good

Good

Cornwall

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Hampshire

Good

Good

Good

Hereford & Worcester

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Hertfordshire

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Good

Requires improvement

Good

Good

Good

Good

Good

Good

Good

Good

Good

Inadequate

Inadequate

Requires improvement

Good

Good

Good

Lancashire Lincolnshire Surrey Warwickshire

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Table 5: Efficiency inspection judgments for each fire and rescue service

“No fire and rescue service was graded ‘Outstanding’ for any individual pillar; in fact only Lancashire got an ‘Outstanding’ judgement at all and that was for values and culture” www.fire–magazine.com  |  February 2019  |  11


Table 6: People inspection judgment for each fire and rescue service People

Promoting the right values and culture

Getting the right people with the right skills

Ensuring fairness and Managing promoting diversity performance and developing leaders

Avon

Inadequate

Inadequate

Good

Inadequate

Requires improvement

Bedfordshire

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Cambridgeshire

Good

Good

Good

Good

Good

Cheshire

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Requires improvement

Good

Cornwall

Good

Good

Good

Good

Requires improvement

Hampshire

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Hereford & Worcester

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Hertfordshire

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Isles of Scilly

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Isle of Wight

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Lancashire

Good

Outstanding

Good

Good

Good

Lincolnshire

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Good

Requires improvement

Surrey

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

Warwickshire

Requires improvement

Good

Good

Requires improvement

Requires improvement

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Lack of Evaluation One theme emerging from the reports is a lack of evaluation. There is a brief reference to ‘better evaluation of national prevention campaigns’, better than what though, is not clear. Under protection, the Inspectorate suggests that along with day to day fire protection activity, risk based inspection programmes and primary authority schemes could do with evaluating. ‘This evaluation would assist them in putting essential activity first and using their resources to protect those at greatest risk’. (p43) Looking at collaboration, the Inspectorate finds evidence that it is happening in fire and rescue services, but the benefits or the success factors are not well developed. ‘Most of the fire and rescue services we inspected are ambitious in the collaboration efficiencies they aim for. But nearly half of services have no formal review process for collaboration. So they fail to evaluate the benefits of often costly projects’. (p57) In operations, the Inspectorate notes that: ‘Fire and rescue services should evaluate how well they respond to incidents. This evaluation tells them how to improve and what value they provide to the community. It allows them to check that they are using new procedures and techniques effectively’. (p49) Looking at the Lancashire report, the Inspectorate notes that there are ‘Rigorous systems in place to evaluate and learn from operational incidents and exercises’. It also describes an app that Lancashire is developing to gather

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Each service gets a graded judgement for each pillar and a graded judgement for the diagnostic questions that sit underneath each pillar question. The grades range from Outstanding to Inadequate. There are ‘areas for improvement’ and ‘areas of concern’ highlighted in service level reports.

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feedback from routine and informal debriefs. Perhaps Lancashire could share this with other services via the National Fire Chiefs Council? In isolation this suggests that fire and rescue services are not debriefing, but this is not the case. The Inspectorate acknowledges that debriefing is going on but just not every time to the extent that learning from smaller incidents is either not captured or where it is, it is not shared beyond those involved. Making the distinction between evaluating response to incidents and debriefing staff after incidents perhaps means that fire and rescue services should be looking across the piece to evaluate the totality and not just individual response to incidents. This is interesting and something that requires further analysis under the banner of operational assurance. Evaluation needs evidence and the Inspectorate finds that there is an ‘Absence of consistent, comparable and good quality data’ to underpin decision making; and where it does exist, it is inconsistent and hard to use to compare across fire and rescue services’. Allied with an absence of national standards, the result is ‘Local variations in almost every aspect of what each fire and rescue service does’. The Inspectorate rightly concludes: ‘This situation needs to improve’. The Fire Brigades Union picks up on this point, with Matt Wrack stating in his response to the Inspectorate: “Since there are no longer nationally set standards for fire and rescue, it is hard for any inspectorate to measure against a benchmark”. Similarly, the National Fire Chiefs Council response from Roy Wilsher notes that prior to fire moving to the Home Office, government policy had been to remove national institutions, including national standards. “Working with the Home Office we are now seeing some national work in England returning, including the Inspectorate and the new Fire Standards Board.”


Government & Politics

“Fire and rescue service have some way to go towards creating an inclusive and positive working culture in which staff feel valued and supported, and behave appropriately with each other”

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Fire Protection Funding Deficit The Inspectorate press release focused on fire protection and fire safety audits. ‘We are concerned that in too many services, protection is not a priority. They do not devote enough resources to the risk reduction activities set out in their IRMPs’ (p 40). There has been a 42 per cent reduction in fire safety audits over the last seven years in England. The Inspectorate concludes that this has led to a reactive and not proactive, risk based approach exacerbated by: • Not enough staff • Not enough understanding of the risks • Lack of capacity to carry out remedial activity.

inspection. Just one look at the results across all 14 services demonstrates how far the Fire and Rescue Service has to go to make improvements in how well they look after their people. ‘Fire and rescue service have some way to go towards creating an inclusive and positive working culture in which staff feel valued and supported, and behave appropriately with each other’ (p65). The Inspectorate says fire and rescue services have to take swift and sustained action here. The summary report goes on to say that it is possible to create a positive culture but too few have. Helpfully, it describes what ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ services have in place: clear statements of values and culture to guide behaviour and decisions of all staff who work for them and leaders that are visible role models for these behaviours. In terms of leadership, the newly published NFCC Leadership Framework is referenced several times and in a very positive light. Alarmingly, 25 per cent of 1,002 staff surveyed in this tranche felt they had been bullied or harassed in the last 12 months. Often staff do not know what is available to support them or lack confidence to use services and that there is a lack of support networks in place. The summary report recognises the efforts fire and rescue services are going to recruit and improve diversity but it is this line which is sobering. ‘It is one thing recruiting a more diverse workforce; it is quite another to make sure individual thrive within a service. Unless services tackle fundamental cultural problems, they will struggle to be diverse employers’ (p18). If the Fire and Rescue Service is a place where ‘staff in half the services we inspected do not understand the benefits of and need for workforce diversity’ and some do not provide shower facilities for women on fire stations, then there is a very long way to go. This brief tour around some of the major elements of the first tranche of inspections highlights a lot of what many in the Fire and Rescue Service would recognise: there are no real surprises here. What it does is lay bare is the extent of the problems that need addressing. When all 45 reports are published there will be extensive evidence of what those problems look like but not always the answers; that is down to individual services to shine a spotlight locally and determine what they want to do. The NFCC, LGA and FBU (along with the other representative bodies) need to work together to ensure fire improvement is joined up. Next month FIRE will look in more detail at the good stuff in these reports. Let us celebrate the fantastic achievements as well as spending time looking where things just need to be better. The second tranche is due to be published in June 2019. The Inspectorate anticipates publishing a State of Fire report in December 2019 alongside the final 15 reports.

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It is unlikely that the FBU’s consistent call for national standards of fire cover is quite where the NFCC is looking to go, but at least they share a desire to return to standards more generally. This point about inconsistent data undermining useful comparison is also found in the Efficiency pillar where there is a complaint about financial data, in particular it is hard to assess in a county council set up. The Inspectorate does not pull its punches and states that the data supplied by CIPFA ‘is not good enough’. The summary report says that the Inspectorate will work with CIPFA on this and that will include the creation of new guidance.

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On this point, the FBU responds: ‘Since 2010, the number of fire safety inspectors has fallen by 28 per cent, so it’s unsurprising that there has been such a drastic reduction in the number of fire safety audits’. In the LGA’s response, they link austerity with reductions in staff working in fire protection. ‘A reduction in funding from central government since 2010 has limited the potential for investment in areas including technology and the number of full-time firefighters has fallen by almost a quarter in the past 14 years, which has impacted on crucial fire safety audit work. The FBU goes on to add: ‘This government has encouraged an approach of engagement, rather than enforcement – some services haven’t used their prosecution powers for two years. We must retain this power to properly enforce in law, where buildings are not safe’. The NFCC is heavily involved in the working groups focused on the recommendations in the Hackitt Report. The NFCC’s response to the inspection reports recognises the long-term under-investment that has resulted in large reductions in fire safety audits, adding: ‘To address these issues, it is essential fire and rescue services receive adequate funding’. Culture Shock All the commentary around effectiveness and efficiency is of course important with many areas that need more work but it is the People area that is the stand out in this

www.fire–magazine.com  |  February 2019  |  13

Profile for Elginfire Consulting

Where to start? A look at the first tranche of inspection reports  

Following on from January FIRE, this article looks at the good stuff coming out of inspection.

Where to start? A look at the first tranche of inspection reports  

Following on from January FIRE, this article looks at the good stuff coming out of inspection.

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