His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) report has looked at all Fire Services across the UK.
This is the first annual assessment of England’s fire and rescue services since Andy Cooke being appointed in 2022 , His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services, found that:
- only two of the inspectorate’s previous six recommendations for reform of the fire service have been implemented, which he described as extremely disappointing;
- the Home Office, the Local Government Association, the National Fire Chiefs Council and trade unions should work together to consider reforming structures for negotiating pay, terms and conditions, which would reduce the risk of industrial action; and
- many services need to improve their culture, and there are still some unacceptable levels of bullying, harassment and discrimination.
In North Yorkshire, the Fire Service has been assessed as:
- Effectiveness requires improvement
- Efficiency inadequate
- People inadequate
His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services Andy Cooke said:
I am continually struck by the dedication of firefighters and other staff, and I know the public feel the same – they are enormous assets to our communities.
The fire service faces a difficult year ahead against the backdrop of industrial action. Some may see these challenges as a reason not to risk further change. On the contrary, reform of the fire service is still urgently needed – and until all our recommendations are addressed in full, fire and rescue services won’t be able to provide the best possible service to the public.
I am frustrated at the lack of progress since we first started inspecting fire and rescue services in 2018. Only two of our six recommendations for national reform have been completed.
I expect to see further commitments from the Government – including timescales for completion – very soon. Both the public and fire and rescue services deserve better.
The inspectorate’s four remaining recommendations are:
- the Home Office should precisely determine the role of fire and rescue services, to remove any ambiguity;
- the sector should remove unjustifiable variation, including in how they define risk;
- the sector should review how effectively pay and conditions are determined; and
- the Home Office should invest chief fire officers with operational independence, whether through primary legislation or in some other manner.
The inspectorate confirmed earlier this week that it would produce a new report on values and culture in England’s fire and rescue services, which will be published later this year.
Jonathan Dyson, Chief Fire Officer, said:
The report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has today (20/1/23) published their report on the most recent inspection of North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service.
The inspection was conducted in spring 2022. Overall, our service has been assessed as: Effectiveness requires improvement, Efficiency inadequate and People inadequate.
We welcome the challenge and scrutiny from HMICFRS and value the independent nature of the Inspectorate. While this is a very disappointing outcome, it is not a reflection of the hard work and dedication that our staff show, every day, to keeping our communities safe, and feeling safe. The Inspectors have said that we are good at preventing fires and other risks and responding to major and multi-agency incidents.
Much of what the Inspectors have focused on relates to service-level policies and practices.
We do need to acknowledge that the Inspection came at a time of significant change for our service. We were just coming out of Covid and transitioning to a new Chief Fire Officer.
Since taking up my position as Chief Fire Officer in July 2022 I remain very aware about what needs to improve and I’m confident that, along with my newly appointed leadership team, we’ll deliver the HMICFRS improvement plans and service transformation. We are absolutely committed to making significant progress over the next two years.
Zoë Metcalfe, Police, Fire and Crime Comissioner, said:
As Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for York and North Yorkshire it is my statutory responsibility to set strategic priorities on behalf of the public, annual budgets, and hold the Chief Fire Officer to account for the services that North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) delivers to keep our communities safe and feeling safe.
I welcome regular inspections from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), because the reports are an independent and rigorous assessment which I can use to ensure our Fire and Rescue Service becomes an Outstanding Service. I am confident that NYFRS will become an exemplary Service and we are already on our journey to achieve that, I am committed to our success.
It is extremely important for the public to understand that North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service keeps people safe as noted in the report where the Service is recognised as being good at preventing fires and other emergencies and good in its response to major and multi-agency incidents.
Although major areas for improvement have been identified, the report recognises the great work being done by firefighters and staff to keep our communities safe. And I want to pay tribute to our courageous and dedicated fire personnel, who have my full support as they go about their vital work – as well as playing their part in improving our Service.
Turning to the specifics of the report, I want to start by making it clear that there has been significant progress and improvements since the inspection;
I have appointed an inspirational Chief Fire Officer and Deputy Chief Fire Officer who have in turn built a new Strategic Leadership Team. I am very confident that together, we will lead the Service into a strong and sustainable future, focused on the safety of our communities and valuing our people.
We have worked closely with the Inspectorate since their visit to demonstrate that every penny of the public’s money has been applied wisely, and that financial planning is sound.
As Commissioner I know that the Service has been underfunded for a generation and I have negotiated hard and been successful with central government for fairer funding for our Fire Service and I will continue to make the case.
Together, the Chief and I have already implemented a rigorous ongoing programme of improvement. The Chief has also put into place immediate plans to address the two causes of concern raised which HMICFRS will review later this month when we welcome them back on 30 January. At which point we will demonstrate our progress since they were last here. On behalf of the public, I have been clear with the Chief Fire Officer that I will be very disappointed if their re-inspection does not produce more positive findings.
North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service is transforming and modernising, to become an exemplary Service. Fresh thinking and brave decisions are being made. For example, through the community risk profile the Service now properly understands the likelihood and severity of fires, road traffic collisions, water related incidents, and other emergencies and also the root causes of risk which result from age, deprivation and other factors. This informed the development of a new Risk and Resource Model, which looked at the way North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service would seek to deploy its people, equipment and resources, based on the most extensive study ever undertaken of community risk assessment across North Yorkshire and York. Following consultation with the public, I made the decision in September 2022 to implement the Risk and Resource Model that will continue to keep the public safe whilst enabling increased prevention and protection work across communities, permanent investment into prevention and protection teams and improve the availability of On-call fire engines in rural areas. I am delighted that HMICFRS have rated the Service as Good in relation to its Prevention work.
The Chief Fire Officer and I are united in our focus on the Inspectorate’s findings in relation to the way the Service treats its own people. We are already driving forward necessary improvements, so that we build a more inclusive working culture. For example, we are investing to improve how we look after our people and the environment in which they work. I expect North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to be an employer of choice with a clear people focus that develops leadership, integrity, and inclusivity, and I will be monitoring the progress that is fundamental to this aim, as part of my scrutiny and the delivery of my Fire and Rescue Plan.
Prevention work will be further strengthened by investment in 2023 with an increase in roles which tackle the root causes of danger to communities and deliver targeted activities to help stop emergencies from happening. This is absolutely in line with the priorities in my Fire and Rescue Plan.1
I am assured by a robust action plan and commitment from the Chief Fire Officer to address all areas of improvement. I will hold the Service to account for delivery.
To do so, I have already deepened my scrutiny and accountability ahead of the next inspection. We will do so transparently and frankly – beginning immediately. On Thursday 26 January my Public Accountability Meeting (PAM) with the Service will be devoted entirely to this report and the progress made since the inspection in Spring 2022. I expect the Chief Fire Officer and his Senior Stategic Leadership Team to make clear to our communities the improvements which have been made since the inspection and the further improvements that are needed, and when these will be delivered.
The PAM meeting will be broadcast live on the internet on Thursday 26th January at 2.30pm and the documents for this will be published today for the public to read. Please watch the session if you can and if not, a recording will be available on my website.
In addition, I encourage any member of the public to send questions or concerns for us to address during the live meeting. Please email email@example.com or to ask a question during the live broadcast, post your question on Twitter using #NYscrutiny
The people of York and North Yorkshire can be confident that should they require their Fire and Rescue Service in an emergency, the right people and support will come. North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service continues to be a reliable service with exceptional people, often risking their own lives to save the lives of the public.