Lincolnshire 2018/19Read more about Lincolnshire
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 is good.
The extent to which the service is efficient at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks is good.
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 pleased with most aspects of the performance of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service in keeping people safe and secure. But it needs to improve how it looks after its people, to give a consistently good service.
The fire and rescue service is effective at keeping people safe. It is good at:
- understanding the risk of fire and other emergencies;
- preventing fires and other risks;
- responding to fires and other emergencies; and
- responding to national risks.
Having said that, it needs to do better in the way it protects the public through fire regulation.
The fire and rescue service must also improve the way it looks after its own people. We are particularly concerned that it is not doing enough to ensure it has the right people with the right skills. It also needs to do better at:
- promoting the right values and culture; and
- managing performance and developing leaders.
It is, however, good at ensuring fairness and promoting diversity.
The fire and rescue service is efficient. It makes good use of its resources and it provides an affordable service.
We are encouraged by the positive aspects we have identified. We look forward to seeing a more consistent performance over the coming year.
How effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.
The service has a good understanding of the risk of fire and is good also at preventing fires and responding to fires. This is enhanced by a number of communication systems and tools. These include using a risk matrix to assess and prioritise community risks, and a rigorous system for capturing and learning lessons from past incidents. This has helped the service to develop a comprehensive integrated risk management plan. The plan seeks to make sure it has the right resources in the right place to manage the risks.
The service’s understanding of the risk of fire and other emergencies would be improved further if it engaged more with communities, to improve its understanding of local risk. The service is good at preventing fires. But it could further improve its positive effect in this field by looking more closely at whether it uses its resources to target prevention activity at the people who are at greatest risk from fires.
The service’s response to national risks is good, it understands national and cross-border risks well and is well prepared to meet them. Its work on protecting the public through fire regulation does need improvement. The service needs to look especially at whether it is making the right use of its enforcement powers. In the year ending 31 March 2018, the service audited one percent of known premises, which is lower than the England rate.
How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is good.
With a view to making the best use of limited resources to support its aims and objectives, the service has:
- cut its non-operational costs and reinvested the savings;
- made total cost savings of £3.1m since 2010; and
- developed a clear strategy to allow the service to meet its aims.
One problem that needs attention is the lack of clarity about how the service prioritises resources between prevention, protection and response. Some staff told us they see prevention and protection as under-resourced.
To improve its operations, the service has developed a new crewing model, known as the Lincolnshire crewing system. The service reports that this has improved response times between the 12 months to 31 March 2013 and the same period in 2018.
The service collaborates well with other blue light services and has plans to develop more joint working. Examples include:
- a shared headquarters with the police;
- plans for a shared control room and equipment with the police; and
- plans for more joint stations with the ambulance service.
The service’s business and continuity plans are in place and are tested regularly.
The service is good at providing value for money. It has made cost savings, mainly through restructuring. The budget is stable until 2020. The service works hard to bring down non-pay costs, so that it can protect frontline services.
The service looks at good practice elsewhere when it develops efficiency-related initiatives and generates some income from its facilities at Waddington training centre.
How well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement at looking after its people.
The service needs to improve the ways in which it promotes the right values and culture. We are concerned that there are weaknesses in how it ensures staff have the right skills.
The service has recognised it needs to improve and is making some progress. For example, it is establishing a wellbeing and inclusion board to better understand the workforce’s needs; and it is making good use of a close working relationship with the police.
Staff feel supported in terms of their health and safety. Senior managers are described as visible and approachable. The service’s culture is described as friendly and people-focused. The workforce clearly take pride in their work.
However, we found several areas for improvement. These include:
- access to specialist wellbeing provision;
- on-call firefighters’ disconnectedness from senior management, the county council and the service’s values;
- staff misunderstandings about the service’s values and the concepts behind them; and
- inconsistent and unclear approaches taken towards resolution of grievances.
An area of particular concern is whether the service is doing all it can to make sure it has the right people with the right skills. We found:
- inadequate systems for assuring that staff are competent in critical skills;
- systems that fail to record all the training that staff have undertaken;
- crew managers providing training at stations (despite not being suitably trained to do so); and
- the service isn’t doing enough to ensure the make-up of its workforce is representative of the diversity of the community.
On-call firefighters only get a group personal development review annually, which concentrates on the station and not on individuals. Non-operational staff say the opportunities for promotion are limited.
The service says that it is looking at ways to improve the promotion process but notes that the funds to help staff develop are limited.