Leicestershire 2018/19Read more about Leicestershire 2018/19
This is HMICFRS’s first annual assessment of fire and rescue services. This assessment examines the service’s effectiveness, efficiency and how well it looks after its people. It is designed to give the public information about how their local fire and rescue service is performing in several important areas, in a way that is comparable with other services across England.
The extent to which the service is effective at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks requires improvement.
The extent to which the service is efficient at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks requires improvement.
The extent to which the service looks after its people requires improvement.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services
We are satisfied with some aspects of the performance of Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service. But there are several areas where the service needs to make improvements.
Leicestershire FRS’s effectiveness at protecting the public requires improvement.
We judge it to be good at:
- understanding the risk of fire and other emergencies;
- preventing fires and other risks; and
- responding to national risks.
But it requires improvement at protecting the public through fire regulation and at responding to fires and other emergencies.
The service’s efficiency requires improvement, specifically to the way it uses resources. But it is good at providing an affordable service, now and in the future.
It requires improvement to how it looks after its people; in particular, to the way it:
- promotes the right values and culture;
- gets the right people with the right skills;
- ensures fairness and promotes diversity; and
- manages performance and develops leaders.
Overall, we would like to see improvements in the year ahead.
How effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
An effective fire and rescue service will identify and assess the full range of foreseeable fire and rescue risks its community faces. It will target its fire prevention and protection activities to those who are at greatest risk from fire. It will make sure businesses comply with fire safety legislation. When the public calls for help, the fire and rescue service should respond promptly with the right skills and equipment to deal with the incident effectively. Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness requires improvement.
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service has an integrated risk management plan (IRMP). The service has consulted extensively on the initial plan. However, when the service updated its IRMP, it did not consult on it as it did not consider it to be a new plan. The service should have consulted on the updated IRMP.
The service considers foreseeable risks and assesses its capability to manage incidents. It also carries out site visits and assigns risk gradings. But the service needs to assure itself that staff have up-to-date training for carrying out these visits and know what to look out for.
Fire and road safety are priorities in terms of this service’s prevention initiatives. The service is the national lead for virtual reality for the National Fire Chiefs Council. However, the service doesn’t sufficiently evaluate its prevention activities.
The service isn’t on schedule to meet its target for completing a cycle of inspections at highest-risk premises. It has no timescales or targets to meet reactive work. And it lacks a quality assurance process to make sure that fire safety officers’ audits are consistent. But we were pleased to see that the service uses its full range of enforcement powers.
The service regularly moves staff to meet demand, to make sure there is adequate cover to respond to incidents. However, the service had one of the highest average call-handling times for primary fires in England.
The service has trained its incident commanders. However, we identified that some commanders hadn’t received refresher training or reassessment after initial training.
The service has arrangements to respond to a regional or national incident, and staff carry out ‘over border’ exercises. However, the service should make sure all staff know what to do in the event of a marauding terrorist attack and receive appropriate training.
How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
An efficient fire and rescue service will manage its budget and spend money properly and appropriately. It will align its resources to its risk. It should try to keep costs down without compromising public safety. Future budgets should be based on robust and realistic assumptions. Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency requires improvement.
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service has made realistic and prudent assumptions about its future revenue and costs. It is aware of its main financial risks and has robust financial plans in place. In recent years the service has made £9m of spending reductions, £6m of which has been made since 2015/16.
That said, the service needs to improve the way it manages its budget and allocates resources. It needs to look at how it allocates resources between prevention, protection and response. And it needs to make sure its activities align with its IRMP.
The service has the capacity and capability it needs to achieve both change and operational performance. But to do so, it needs to keep introducing innovative and different ways of working. The service needs to make sure it has enough staff for the level of risk its community faces in the long term. It needs to make sure that its workforce’s time is being used effectively. It needs to find a way to check workforce performance. The service needs to routinely monitor, review and evaluate its collaboration activity. The service also needs to consider how it resources its protection team, so that it can meet its requirement for its high-risk inspection programme.
The service needs a comprehensive system for assessing and recording business continuity. And we found a general lack of testing around how the service would deal with an event that damaged its main functions.
In terms of future investments, the service has a trading arm; it works with the city and county councils to make savings and meet some staffing needs; and it has built and upgraded fire stations. It also lets some of its premises but needs to recoup some of its rental income.
How well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?
A fire and rescue service that looks after its people should be able to provide an effective service to its community. It should offer a range of services to make its communities safer. This will include developing and maintaining a workforce that is professional, resilient, skilled, flexible and diverse. The service’s leaders should be positive role models, and this should be reflected in the behaviour of the workforce. Overall, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement at looking after its people.
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service has no formal process to support staff who have attended a traumatic incident. The service also needs to update its health and safety policy.
The service has had four chief fire officers in the last five years. It has also had several temporary senior managers during the same period. Staff told us that management behaviour has been inconsistent.
The service is currently carrying out a review of its values. But staff weren’t aware of this review and had an inconsistent understanding of what the service’s values are.
In addition to reviewing its values, the service is reviewing several of its HR policies and procedures. These relate to bullying and harassment, absence, discipline, promotion and recruitment.
The service has a variety of networks and groups to reflect equality and diversity issues. However, the service’s workforce doesn’t fully reflect the diversity of the communities it serves. Moreover, some staff don’t have a good understanding of diversity. During our inspection we heard frequent use of gender-exclusive language.
The service has no central system to record and manage training records. We also saw out-of-date staff training records for health and safety. And the service couldn’t show us how it learns from compliments and complaints.
The service’s staff lack trust in the grievance process and this needs to be addressed. Several staff said they wouldn’t use the grievance procedure because of repercussions in terms of future promotion opportunities.
On that note, staff consistently reported significant concerns about the promotion process. It is believed to be unfair and lacking openness, rather than identifying the talent of the future. The service has told us it is developing a new promotions policy. It also accepts that the current appraisal process is ineffective, and is reviewing it.