Fire service ‘inadequate’ at looking after its people

By Forester Reporter   |   Reporter   |
Thursday 4th August 2022 6:00 am
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Gloucestershire’s Chief Fire Officer Mark Preece ()

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INSPECTORS have raised “serious concerns” about the performance of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) in keeping people safe.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has judged that the service is ‘inadequate’ at looking after its people, and ‘requires improvement’ at effectively keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks.

The inspectorate is also concerned about the understanding of the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion within the service, and the way it promotes its values and culture.

In light of the findings, the inspectorate has moved the service into its highest level of monitoring, Engage, which provides additional scrutiny and support.

Inspectors say that targeting safety visits to the most vulnerable isn’t done efficiently, plans to introduce national operational guidance have been delayed, and the service’s objectives are still not clearly linked to its budget plans.

They also have concerns that there is a lack of development support for newly promoted managers, and the service still doesn’t have a process to support the development of high-potential staff.

Inspector Wendy Williams said the inspectorate was disappointed to see that the service hasn’t made the progress expected since their last inspection in 2019.

“The service has invested time and effort to address problems identified during our previous inspection. But this work hasn’t been focused or co-ordinated, and staff haven’t been effectively involved”, she said.

“I have asked the service to produce a plan setting out how it will address the causes of concern we identified.

“We will revisit the service in the autumn to review progress against this plan.”

Gloucestershire County Council says it has allocated £2million as part of this year’s budget, building on the £2million extra that has been allocated over the past two years, to support the required changes and improvements.

They say there is also £8million of funding to make sure crews have the best possible operational vehicles and equipment.

Chief Fire Officer Mark Preece said he accepts the inspectorate’s findings that the service needs to improve.

He said: “We have submitted our action plan to address the causes for concern and work has already begun.”

“I am proud of all we achieve as a fire and rescue service, but I know there is much to be done and I will, with the support of colleagues remain focussed on delivering a service that has the right culture, values and actively welcomes and celebrates diversity in all its forms”, he added.

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