Her Majesty’s Inspectorate has published a report into Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. The overall judgement was that the service requires improvement, although there are key areas judged to be good, including our understanding of fires and other risks in Norfolk’s communities and our response to incidents.
Interim Chief Fire Officer Tim Edwards said: ‘We welcome the report and are pleased that four areas of our work were recognised as being good, with two of these improving since our last full inspection in 2019 and I am proud of the work our service has done over the past three years and continues to do each day.
‘As a learning organisation, we have already taken steps to improve some of the other areas highlighted in the report, since the inspectors’ visit last Autumn.
‘We are of course disappointed with some of the inspection findings and are committed to reducing risk and creating a safer Norfolk for all.’
Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships, said: ‘Norfolk County Council is committed to supporting the improvements required and has already taken steps to address some of the points raised. For example, we have committed extra resource to increase staffing within the prevention and protection departments. I was pleased to see that improvements in some areas have been recognised, which is testament to the commitment of the team.’
Below is the full statement from Chief Fire Officer Tim Edwards on the HMICFRS inspection report:
We appreciate this HMICFRS report, assessing three key areas of effectiveness, efficiency and how well we look after our people. We are pleased that the inspectors rated our service to be particularly good at:
- Understanding fires and other risks
- Responding to fires and other emergencies
- Protecting the public through fire regulation
- Responding to major and multi-agency incidents
We are proud of our record in these areas and pleased that the work of our team here in Norfolk had been recognised.
That said, the overall judgement that the service requires improvement is disappointing, but we are committed to learning from the recommendations and indeed have already been taking steps to improve in those areas of our work in the months since the inspection took place.
We are pleased that the inspectors commented on the improvements made within the service in gathering and using information and data to identify risk within our communities.
We have already taken steps to strengthen and grow our teams around protection and prevention and are committed to service improvement so we can move from a service requiring improvement to a good service.
The inspectors felt we were good at learning from national incidents, working in collaboration with partners, and had responded well to the Grenfell Tower enquiry. They also highlighted the good quality of our fire safety audits.
Our work to reduce false alarms was also recognised and puts our service below the national average (40%) of calls being false alarms. In Norfolk 31% of incidents were false alarms.
Since the inspection visit, we have filled vacancies within our control room and bedded in new mobile data terminals and software. Being part of the East Coast Consortium also provides extra resilience for our emergency control room.
Our work in responding to fires and other incidents, major and multi-agency incidents is good, and I am immensely proud of the work of our firefighters responding to incidents and keeping our communities safe. Our business continuity plans were noted as being good and are regularly tested.
Inspectors also commented on the progress we have made since the last inspection in terms of investing in technology and innovation, progress which has been built upon since the inspector’s visit last autumn.
Staff wellbeing support available was praised as being good, as was our approach to our teams’ health and safety.
The innovative work done since the last inspection to improve on equality, diversity and inclusion was also praised and we are pleased that the inspectors acknowledged the hard work of the team in this area.
We continue to push recruitment of on-call firefighters in our largely rural county and are committed to ensuring that our staff feel valued and well supported. We have already started taking steps to address some of the issues presented within the report around visibility of senior leaders and addressing perception of behaviours.
We strive to improve and as a learning organisation are grateful for the feedback given to us.