Inspection finds North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service 'requires improvement' in certain areas

The fire service inspectorate have released their first independent inspection into fire and rescue services, including North Yorkshire, for 12 years.

By Corinne Macdonald
Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 12:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 12:03 pm

This is the first time that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has inspected fire and rescue services across England and the focus was on the service they provide to the public, and the way they use the resources available.

In carrying out inspections of all 45 fire and rescue services in England, the HMICFRS gives a rating of outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate to these three main questions:

- How effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?

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Stock image JPI Media.

- 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?

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was found to be 'good' for effectiveness but 'requires improvement' for efficiency and people.

HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services Phil Gormley said: “Some aspects of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s performance are good. Others, however, require improvement.

“The service is generally effective at keeping people safe and secure from fires and other risks.

"Its emergency response is good with arrangements in place to always deploy the quickest vehicle. After larger incidents, the service has an effective debriefing process to identify lessons learned. However, the service doesn’t have a publicly agreed response standard agreed and its average response times to primary fires have increased since 2010."

However Mr Gormley said the service's understanding of risk 'requires improvement' and it doesn't use a wide enough range of data to identify risk, instead relying too heavily on historical data.

He added: "We also have concerns around its financial sustainability. The delayed introduction of tactical response vehicles has contributed to an estimated budget deficit of £2.5 million. More generally, the service’s current financial plans rely on using reserve funds, which is unsustainable.

“The recent transfer of governance to the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner should improve the service’s efficiency, including increasing its collaboration activities.

“The service takes the wellbeing of its staff seriously, offering a range of mental and physical wellbeing programmes. It promotes a system of positive values, though it could do more to make sure all staff understand these. More is also needed to embed diversity across the service and increase the diversity of the workforce. Leadership development procedures should also be refined.

“I look forward to seeing how the service implements the improvements contained in our report.”

Commenting on the inspection report, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan, said: “This is a very helpful report, and comes at a good time as we work towards restoring the service’s finances, and look ahead to the future.

"Fundamentally, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue does a good job in keeping the public safe, so I am pleased that has been recognised.

"However, some of the detail of the report makes concerning reading - for example it describes an urban focus around prevention and mitigating risk to the public.

"The service also clearly needs to increase the number of visits made to people in their homes and to ensure the full range of safety advice is provided."

However, she added that in the past 12 months, a new senior leadership team had been recruited in Chief Fire Officer, Andrew Brodie and his deputy, Jonathan Foster and the Finance Working Group that she established has been able to reduce the budget shortfalls and the service had its first open recruitment for firefighters in ten years.

She said: "There is clearly a lot to do, but I’m confident we are in a much better place than 12 months ago and that we will be in a good position to develop the service in the future.

"The biggest hurdle in our way at present is money and I urge the government to respond positively to the clear feedback provided on it’s budget consultation, as soon as possible.”