Fire and rescue service effective, efficient and inclusive according to inspectors

HMICFRS report 2021England’s independent fire and rescue service watchdog has praised Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s work to keep communities safe from fire and to create a fair and inclusive workplace.

In its latest round of inspections Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) rated the Service as ‘good’ across all three of its inspection criteria. This means it is ‘performing as expected’ in the way it prevents and responds to emergencies, spends its money and it looks after its people.

The findings represent an improvement on the last routine inspection in 2018, which suggested the Service needed to do more to promote a positive workplace culture and ensure the wellbeing of staff.

Welcoming the report, the Service’s Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive Mark Cashin said: “This is a comprehensive assessment that first and foremost reflects the hard work of all our firefighters and fire staff. The inspectors noted how our people engaged ‘positively’ and ‘constructively’ with them and that it was a ‘pleasure’ to revisit the Service. Our grading of ‘good’ is testament to their commitment to providing the best possible service to everyone who lives and works in Cheshire.

“I am particularly pleased that HMICFRS has recognised how we have not only maintained core activities to a very high standard throughout the pandemic, but also continued to develop as an organisation and address the areas for improvement highlighted in the last inspection.”

The latest report highlights the Service’s:

  • “impressive investment to promote culture and values, and equality, diversity and inclusion” across the organisation

  • “range of wellbeing support” for staff, including increased management visibility and the appointment of a mental health advisor

  • “clear, risk-based approach to prevention activity” which includes Safe and Well visits that staff continued to make to vulnerable people during the pandemic. HMICFRS found the Service carried out three times the national average number of visits during 2019/20

  • training for incident commanders, who “safely, assertively and effectively” manage incidents and feel empowered to use their professional judgement when making operational decisions

  • work to protect the public through the enforcement of fire regulations by, for example, assessing risks in all Cheshire’s high-rise buildings and campaigning for the installation of sprinklers. The report highlights that the Service undertook twice the national average number of fire safety audits in 2019/20

  • “sound understanding of future financial challenges” based on “robust, realistic and prudent assumptions”. Its services are provided at a lower than national average cost

Cllr Bob Rudd, Chairman of Cheshire Fire Authority, said: “HMICFRS’s findings should give our communities assurance that they are served by one of the highest-performing and most effective fire and rescue services in the country.

“My fellow Fire Authority Members and I are delighted to see the progress since the last inspection, which has been made in spite of the challenges of Covid-19. We would like to record our thanks to all our firefighters, fire staff and the Service’s leaders for their efforts.

“The HMICFRS inspection criteria provide clear standards and expectations to work towards and we look forward to working with officers in the coming months to help the Service continue to develop.”

Read the full report - 2021 Report (opens in new window)

Last updated: Wednesday 15 December 2021

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HMICFRS report 2021