Cambs FRS retains its position
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) has come out with one of the best scores from 13 other fire and rescue services in the first tranche of the Government’s second round of inspections for fire and rescue services.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has assessed the Service as Good across the three main pillars of efficiency, effectiveness and how it looks after its people.
The inspection took place in April just after the second lockdown and the Service was the first fire service to be looked at in the new round of assessments. The inspection team analysed data and documents and held virtual meetings with a cross-section of staff to assess the Service against a set-criteria that all fire services will be scored against over the next 12 months.
The Inspectorate found that CFRS was 'good' across all three core areas as well as 10 of the 11 eleven sub-sections - one of only three fire and rescue services to achieve this level in the first tranche of inspections.
Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland said: “I am delighted with our assessment outcome and to maintain an overall rating of ‘Good’ across all areas. I feel very proud of our Service and of everyone who works here. The bar has been raised this time and so we had to prove we had continued to improve and not just stood still. The last 20 months have been difficult for many of our staff, each facing their own personal challenges, as everyone has, with the pandemic and different ways of working. But our people have been phenomenal and to achieve three Goods again despite the challenges of the pandemic is just fantastic. It’s a real testament to their collective hard work and passion to drive improvement and ensure we deliver the best service we can to our communities.”
Inspectors highlighted three areas of innovative work for national recognition too, in how the Service manages its assets, how it sought independent verification for its Covid secure measures in the workplace, and how it commissioned an independent facilitator to help it establish how its black and minority ethnic staff were feeling in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing and Covid pandemic.
Chris continued: “As always, the inspectorate identified a few areas for us to improve on and we welcome these. Some we are already making good progress with following the immediate feedback we received in April. I have to admit to being disappointed with the 'requires improvement’ we received for our future financial planning beyond 2024. We have a commendable track record of successfully managing our budget through the last two comprehensive spending reviews where we faced eight years of budget cuts. The score this time came down to us not having a documented plan but I can reassure everyone that we are on top of this and have spent the last six months carefully planning for different scenarios that may affect our budget and income in the future and how we can respond to it.”
Chair of the Fire Authority, Councillor Edna Murphy, added: “To be one of only three fire services to be judged as at least 'good' across every part of the inspection is evidence of what has always been our firm belief that, despite being a rural fire and rescue service, we punch well above our weight. I have only been Chair and part of the Authority since May of this year and it has been evident in that short time that this is a great fire and rescue service that cares for its people and is dedicated to serving its communities. The Service is always striving for improvement. The additional support it gave to other agencies during the pandemic - helping at vaccination centres, driving ambulances, knocking on doors of those isolating and fitting face masks, to name but a few - shows just how brilliant the people are we have working for the Service.”
Councillor Murphy concluded: “Today’s announcement should reassure the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough that their local fire and rescue service is up there with the best, that it is effective in what it does and provides great value for money.”
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service was one of 13 fire services to be inspected in the first tranche of the second round of assessments by HMICFRS. By December 2022, all 44 fire and rescue services in England will have undergone the same inspection.
The full report for Cambridgeshire, including how it compares against other fire and rescue services in the first tranche, can be found on the HMICFRS website.