2018/19 FRS assessment

In 2018/19, HMICFRS inspected the fire and rescue services that carry out the principal functions of a fire and rescue authority:

  • fire safety;
  • firefighting; and
  • responding to road traffic accidents and other emergencies.

This was the first time HMICFRS has inspected fire and rescue services across England.

We inspected all 45 fire and rescue services in England, in three sets of 15 services, beginning in summer 2018 and concluding in Autumn 2019. They were published in one of three tranches spread across the 2018/19 inspection year.

In carrying out our inspections of all 45 services in England, we answered three main questions:

  1. How effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
  2. How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
  3. How well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?

Following consultation with the fire and rescue service, and carrying out three pilot inspections, we developed the following question set for its fire and rescue service inspections.

This question set formed the basis of inspections for the first three tranches of inspections. The questions are listed below.

Judgment criteria

The judgment criteria sit alongside each year’s question set. It sets out the expected behaviours for each of the four grades at the question level.

Read the detailed FRS judgment criteria (PDF document, 236 kB).

Detailed question set

Effectiveness

Headline question: 1. How effective is the FRS at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?

Core question Diagnostic
1.1 How well does the FRS understand the risk of fire and other emergencies? 1.1.1 How well does the FRS engage with the local community to build up a comprehensive risk profile?

1.1.2 To what extent does the FRS use information from other sources (e.g. health and social care data, population and demographic data) to build the risk profile?

1.1.3 How well does the FRS define the level of community risk, including those communities most at risk, harder-to-reach, hidden (e.g. unscrupulous landlords, overcrowded dwellings) or affecting the most vulnerable people?

1.1.4 To what extent does the FRS undertake regular liaison with relevant bodies to ensure a common understanding of risk, including fire standards and requirements?

1.1.5 To what extent is risk information systematically and accurately gathered by staff?

1.1.6 How well is information on risk communicated throughout the FRS?

1.1.7 To what extent are the results of operational activity used to ensure a common understanding of risk?

1.1.8 How well does the FRS identify and assess current, emerging or future changes in the risk of fire and other risks?

1.2 How effective is the FRS at preventing fires and other risks? 1.2.1 To what extent is preventative activity, such as the home fire safety check programme, focused on those most at risk?

1.2.2 How well does the FRS raise awareness and campaign to prevent fires and promote community safety?

1.2.3 What progress has the FRS, with partner organisations, achieved in preventing fires and keeping people safe?

1.2.4 To what extent does FRS identify vulnerability and safeguard vulnerable people during preventative activity?

1.2.5 How well does the FRS work with partner organisations to promote road safety and reduce the numbers killed and seriously injured on the roads?

1.2.6 How well does the FRS work with partner organisations to tackle fire setting behaviour and support the prosecution of arsonists?

1.3 How effective is the FRS at protecting the public through the regulation of fire safety? 1.3.1 To what extent is enforcement and inspection based on risk?

1.3.2 To what extent is a systematic, consistent and robust fire safety audit undertaken by staff?

1.3.3 How well does the FRS take enforcement action against those who fail to comply with fire safety regulations?

1.3.4 How well does the FRS work with other enforcement agencies to share information on risk and take joint enforcement action (e.g. local authority licensing, building control and trading standards officers)?

1.3.5 To what extent is the FRS working in partnership to reduce the burden of unwanted fire signals?

1.3.6 To what extent does the FRS engage with local businesses or large organisations to share information and expectations on compliance with fire safety regulations?

1.4 How effective is the FRS at responding to fires and other emergencies? 1.4.1 To what extent does FRS operational policy reflect national operational guidance?

1.4.2 To what extent does the FRS provide a proportionate response to incidents on the basis of risk?

1.4.3 How well does the FRS use and communicate information about incident risk?

1.4.4 How well does the FRS command fire service assets at incidents?

1.4.5 How well does the FRS identify vulnerability and safeguard vulnerable people at incidents?

1.4.6 How well does the FRS communicate information about incidents to the public?

1.4.7 To what extent are consistent, rigorous and open systems in place to evaluate operational performance and make operational improvements?

1.4.8 How well does the FRS exchange learning with other FRSs, including learning from national incidents?

1.5 How effective is the FRS at responding to national risks? 1.5.1 To what extent has the FRS established arrangements to be able to supplement resources in the event of extraordinary need, such as a flood, or a major incident?

1.5.2 How well has the FRS established site-specific response plans for high-risk premises?

1.5.3 To what extent has the FRS demonstrated it is intraoperable with other FRSs to ensure an effective and efficient cross-border response?

1.5.4 To what extent does joint training and joint exercising help the FRS to plan for and test arrangements for dealing with major multi-agency incidents?

1.5.5 How well prepared is the FRS to form part of a multi-agency response to a community risk identified by the local resilience forum, including a marauding terrorist attack?

Back to top

Efficiency

Headline question: 2. How efficient is the FRS at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?

Core question Diagnostic
2.1 How well does the FRS use resources to manage risk? 2.1.1 To what extent do FRS plans address the risks identified in the integrated risk management plan?

2.1.2 To what extent are the FRS plans built on sound planning assumptions, subject to informed challenge and meet financial requirements?

2.1.3 How well does the FRS allocate resources to preventative, protective and response activity?

2.1.4 To what extent does the FRS have the capacity and capability it needs to achieve both change and operational performance?

2.1.5 How well does the FRS ensure that the workforce’s time is productive, making use of a flexible workforce and flexible working patterns?

2.1.6 To what extent is the FRS actively exploring all opportunities for collaboration within and beyond the fire and rescue sector?

2.1.7 How well does the FRS ensure there are mechanisms in place for the monitoring, evaluation and review of collaborations (including benefits realisation and outcomes)?

2.1.8 To what extent are business continuity arrangements in place and how often are these tested?

2.2 How well is the FRS securing an affordable way of managing the risk of fire and other risks now and in the future? 2.2.1 To what extent does the FRS understand and is taking action to mitigate the main/ significant financial risks?

2.2.2 To what extent does the FRS have a track record for achieving savings and avoiding any residual future budget gaps?

2.2.3 To what extent can the FRS demonstrate sound financial management of principal non-pay costs (including fleet and equipment) through benchmarking, contract renegotiation, and joint procurement?

2.2.4 How well do FRS plans make the best use of the opportunities, and respond to the risks, presented by changes in technology?

2.2.5 To what extent does the FRS estate/fleet strategy, and changes to estate/fleet, support current and future service provision?

2.2.6 To what extent is the FRS continuing to make savings to invest for future innovation?

2.2.7 How well does the FRS use reserves to improve efficiency, to allow innovation and to promote new ways of working?

2.2.8 To what extent is the FRS influencing how it can work with others in the future in order to improve efficiency?

2.2.9 To what extent has the FRS considered and exploited external funding opportunities, or options for generating income?

Back to top

People

Headline question: 3. How well does the FRS look after its people?

Core question Diagnostic
3.1 How well does the FRS promote its values and culture? 3.1.1 How well does the FRS understand the wellbeing needs of its workforce?

3.1.2 How well does the FRS take early action to improve the wellbeing of the workforce?

3.1.3 How well do leaders demonstrate they model and maintain the values the FRS expects of them?

3.1.4 To what extent is a culture of promoting health, safety and wellbeing evident at all levels in the FRS?

3.2 How well trained and skilled are FRS staff? 3.2.1 How well does the FRS understand the skills and capabilities of its workforce (including the use of technology)?

3.2.2 How well does the FRS ensure it has the right workforce mix of skills and capabilities?

3.2.3 To what extent has the FRS established a culture of learning and improvement?

3.3 How well does the FRS ensure fairness and diversity? 3.3.1 How well do leaders seek feedback and challenge from all parts of the workforce?

3.3.2 How well does the FRS identify and resolve workforce concerns?

3.3.3 How well does the FRS identify and address potential disproportionality in recruitment, retention and progression for staff with protected characteristics?

3.4 How well does the FRS develop leadership and capability? 3.4.1 How well does the FRS manage and develop the individual performance of its staff?

3.4.2 How fairly does the FRS identify high potential members of the workforce to become senior leaders?

3.4.3 How fairly does the FRS select for leadership roles at all levels?

Back to top

Inspection tranches

Tranche Fire and Rescue Service inspected
Tranche one
  • Avon Fire and Rescue Service
  • Bedforshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Cambridgeshireshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service
  • Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Hereford Fire and Rescue Service
  • Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Isle of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service
  • Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service
  • Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Surrey Fire and Rescue Service
  • Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service
Tranche two
  • Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service
  • Humberside Fire and Rescue Service
  • Kent Fire and Rescue Service
  • Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service
  • Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service
  • Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service
  • Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service
  • West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service
  • West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
Tranche three
  • Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Cleveland Fire Brigade
  • Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service
  • DerbyshireFire and Rescue Service
  • Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service
  • Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service
  • East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
  • Essex Fire and Rescue Service
  • Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service
  • London Fire Brigade
  • North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service
  • West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service

Back to top