Avon Fire & Rescue Service's response to HMICFRS inspection

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has today published a report on how Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) prevents incidents, protects the public against harm and responds to fires and other emergencies.  

The inspection also assessed how well AF&RS looks after its people.Avon Fire & Rescue Service is one of 14 fire and rescue services which have been inspected in 2018 as part of a first tranche of HMICFRS inspections across the country.

Responding to the report, Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive, Mick Crennell said: “Our local communities will understandably have concerns following the publication of today’s report.

“The last 18 months have seen the release of three key publications: Dr Baker’s Statutory Inspection in July 2017, the findings of our cultural review in July this year and now our first HMICFRS inspection report. 

"There are common themes running through all three and it, therefore, comes as no surprise that the HMICFRS report reflects what we already know and have already committed to improving. 

"However, I welcome HMICFRS recognition of the challenging time we’ve faced as an organisation and our commitment to being the best service we can be. 

“Protecting the public and preventing fires and other risks is at the heart of everything we do as a Service, so we are naturally disappointed with the overall judgments across several of the inspection areas. 

"Throughout the inspection, we have worked closely with HMICFRS and I have appropriately challenged their findings or factual inaccuracies as part of the process.

“The Statutory Inspection report published in July 2017 made extremely difficult reading and we should not underestimate the impact that this had across all areas of the Service. 

"We said then that we will not ignore the criticisms made, nor seek to defend the mistakes of the past but meet them head on and that continues to be the case. This latest report covers a lot of ground that previous reports have covered including the need to improve our organisational culture.

“We have taken bold and positive steps to start to address the issues and commissioned a detailed independent cultural review sometime before the HMICFRS inspection so that we genuinely understand our current position. In line with our commitment to openness and transparency, we have published the results of that review and, as hard as it may be, we are now making progress to turn things around. 

"But the culture of an organisation does not just change overnight or through the writing of words on a page – it takes time and centres around living our Service values day in, day out and at all levels of the organisation. So in terms of culture, today’s HMICFRS inspection report has simply reflected what we already know and what we have already committed to change.

“Making our communities safer is one of our strategic priorities and we can only achieve this if our Service is as strong as it can be.

"It is important that staff are encouraged to do the right thing, that inappropriate behaviour is challenged and that we do things differently in the future to be the best Service that local people have a right to expect.

“I hope that the public are reassured that Avon Fire & Rescue Service has been rated as ‘good’ at understanding the risk of fire and other emergencies, responding to national risks, making the fire and rescue service affordable now and in the future and getting the right people with the right skills.

“It is inevitable after a long period of austerity and the fact that the Service has, as much as possible, protected ‘front line’ operations, that resources across the Service are very lean and that modernisation improvements are needed.

"As soon as HMICFRS shared their recommendations regarding our available capacity within our Technical Fire Safety (TFS) department, we immediately developed an action plan to bolster our resources. We are currently in the process of delivering against that plan, which includes further investment in our TFS capacity across the area.

“We welcomed the introduction of the new wider remit of HMICFRS in 2017 which is now providing the first independent inspection of the fire and rescue service in over a decade. 

"We remain convinced that the organisational learning from the inspections – both of our own Service and others – will improve the fire and rescue service for the ultimate benefit of our communities we are so proud to serve. We will use the findings of our inspection to help us deliver our vision of providing the highest standard and best value service to the community.”

Chair of the Fire Authority, Councillor Donald Davies, said: “The overall assessment of Avon Fire & Rescue Service determined by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services is a further challenge for the Service but the report findings reflect what we already know and are working on.

“Avon Fire & Rescue Service is wholly committed to ensuring the residents across our area are safe from fire and other incidents and we work tirelessly to achieve that.

“Areas of improvement have been identified within the report and the Service has already committed to a wide-ranging improvement plan. The Service will, therefore, remain alert and flexible to the dynamically changing environment so that we can continue to match our resources to risk in the most effective and efficient way possible.  

“I know that our professional and passionate staff are completely dedicated to keeping our communities safe and that Avon Fire & Rescue Service remains committed to continually improving its effectiveness and efficiency while providing value for money for local people.”

See our full response to HMICFRS below.

To read Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) Effectiveness, Efficiency and People 2018/19 report in Avon Fire & Rescue Service click here.