‘Positive progress’ being made by Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service
An audit report says Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) is making ‘positive progress’ in its improvement journey to show problems of the past are being addressed.
The report by Audit Risk Assurance (ARA) said there was a ‘strong drive’ to implement internal audit recommendations, in line with an action plan aimed at ensuring the service has robust policies and processes in place and is using public funds in the most appropriate way at all times.
It adds that Covid-19 has put extra pressures on public services and has impacted the county council’s and GFRS’s priorities. But during this challenging period, the GFRS improvement board has made positive progress and shown a strong drive to complete the recommendations.
The GFRS Improvement Board has confirmed that out of the 124 actions they identified to address the 118 audit recommendations, 78 actions have been implemented, 17 are in progress and 29 are awaiting feedback. The board aims to have implemented all recommendations by the 2020/21 year end.
Staff responsible for overseeing this important work, whilst finding it challenging, have commented on the positive approach taken by the service to support the progress.
One said: “The greatest impact on me as a member of staff is the way the Board don’t just want to correct what is currently wrong but they also want to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Taking that extra step to make sure for example that training required doesn’t just happen now but is programmed in for all staff who need it on a regular basis rather than a short term fix.”
Wayne Bowcock, chief fire officer, said: “I’m pleased to see this report has recognised the positive progress being made. Covid-19 has presented many challenges to the service but GFRS has not reduced its effort in addressing the findings despite this extra pressure.
“We are totally committed to this improvement journey and implementing the remaining recommendations as soon as possible.”
Cllr Dave Norman, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member with responsibility for the fire service, said: “We are determined to ensure the issues of the past are fully addressed so the people of Gloucestershire can have complete confidence in GFRS.
“Many significant steps have been made already, as this reports shows, with strong and effective controls now in place, and this will continue until all improvements have been made.”
A copy of the report, which is being presented to the county council’s audit and governance committee on 30 October, can be viewed here.