Fire chiefs reaffirm commitment to make required improvements as HMICFRS report published
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has today (Wednesday 27 July 2022) published its full report on Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS), following an inspection in October and November 2021. Chief Fire Officer, Mark Preece and Cabinet Member, Cllr Dave Norman have reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to address concerns raised by inspectors and build on the strengths of the service.
HMICFS report acknowledges that GFRS has made progress in the availability of its fire engines; the average availability is 91.8%, which is higher than the average across England (86.4%). As well as firefighters having up to date and easily accessible risk information.
As reported in their initial findings back in January, Inspectors removed technical fire safety as a ‘cause for concern’, from their previous 2019 inspection. However, they have identified two areas that require urgent attention. These areas are workplace culture and Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI).
In March 2022, an action plan to address the causes for concern was submitted and accepted by HMICFRS and progress is already well underway.
As part of this, a staff improvement focus group has been established, with a cross section of fire and rescue colleagues to help mould the improvement journey. In addition, views have been sought from the wider workforce through our recent annual staff survey and will be used to ensure that staff views are at the heart of our progress.
A training programme is currently being delivered to managers across the service to develop GFRS as a culturally intelligent and inclusively led organisation.
Gloucestershire County Council 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. Additionally, there is also £8million of funding to make sure crews have the best possible operational vehicles and equipment.
Cllr Dave Norman, cabinet member with responsibility for fire, said: “We have so many hard working, committed firefighters, staff and volunteers who help to protect our communities in an emergency. They deserve to work for a service where they are respected and treated fairly. Equally those who do not live by the same values as the vast majority of us, must, and will, be held to account. I accept that progress has not been quick enough, but I can assure those in the service and communities that we are resolute in our commitment to improve.
“It is important to highlight that the inspectors drew attention to our fire engine availability being good, meaning when the public need the fire and rescue service in an emergency, they will be there.
“Our Firefighters, staff and volunteers continue to deliver services for communities that we can be proud of. The additional £2million funding, that was secured earlier this year, will ensure we can meet the requirements to reach the improvement journey objectives for the service without putting undue pressure on current hardworking members of staff.”
Mark Preece, Chief Fire Officer for GFRS, said: “I accept HMICFRS’s findings that we need to do more to improve, we have submitted our action plan to address the causes for concern and work has already begun.
“Along with other senior officers, I have been out talking with crews and departments across the county, listening to their views and understanding how we might better engage, include and support them. This is one way we are working to embed our organisational values and promote a positive workplace culture.
“I am pleased that it was recognised that we have improved in our fire engine attendance; but we want to do more, and our Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) sets out how we will do this, helping us to deliver services our communities expect and deserve.
“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.”
GFRS has recruited an additional 39 firefighters and are currently recruiting for on-call firefighters, if you want to help us to become a safer Gloucestershire and help us with our improvement journey find out ways to join our team by visiting Recruitment at Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service - Glosfire