Shropshire 2018/19Read more about Shropshire
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 is good.
Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services
We are pleased with the performance of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service in keeping people safe and secure. But it needs to improve in some areas to give a consistently good service.
It provides an effective service and is good at:
- understanding the risk of fire and other emergencies;
- preventing fires;
- responding to emergencies; and
- responding to national risks.
But the service needs to do better at protecting the public through fire regulation.
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service provides an efficient service. It is good at:
- making use of its resources; and
- providing an affordable service now and in future.
The service is good at looking after its people. It promotes the right values and culture. It gets the right people with the right skills. And it ensures fairness and promotes diversity. But the service should improve how it manages performance.
Overall, we commend Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service for its performance. This provides a good foundation for improvement 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. Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has systems and plans to keep people safe and secure from fire and other risks. The five-year service plan (called the integrated risk management plan or IRMP) draws on data from many sources – both from within the service and from other agencies – to create a picture of risks in the community. The service could go further in talking to the community to improve this picture. The service plan is available to the public and is used to decide how to reduce risk and keep the community safe. Fire engines and crews are in the right places to work effectively. The service is good at responding to emergencies and has made changes that have improved the way it works. These include buying extra-large fire engines to respond better to fires in rural areas, using flexible crewing and setting up a flexible on-call support team.
The service works hard on prevention and works closely with other agencies, including local councils. Staff know why prevention is important. This work is aimed at those who are most at risk from fire. The service also carries out community safety work. It could use social media better in this area to get its messages to the public.
We found that there are not enough protection officers to carry out the risk-based inspections that are currently planned. The service is taking steps to tackle this problem.
The service can respond effectively to national risks. It should stage more cross-border exercises and share the lessons learned afterwards. We believe that the alliance with the neighbouring service in Hereford and Worcester will benefit both services.
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. Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is good.
The service is managing its people and resources efficiently. All parts of the service are working to targets based on the central service plan. The service uses data to create a dashboard that shows how well it is doing in meeting its targets. The service keeps spending under control. There are robust plans for managing the money it is given to keep people safe from fire and other risks. These plans are tested against possible future financial risks. Savings are made that allow money to be spent on projects to keep the service fit for the future, such as the plan to redevelop Telford Central fire station.
Serving a rural area, two-thirds of Shropshire’s firefighting strength comes from staff who don’t work full-time as firefighters. These on-call staff are vital. The service is right to be working on plans to make sure these jobs continue to attract good recruits. This is part of the planning needed to reduce as far as possible any risks which would make it more difficult for the service to do its job efficiently.
To make sure that it is ready to cope with major problems that could make it hard to keep working, the service could improve how it runs exercises to test the way the control room works.
Shropshire is working well with its neighbours to keep costs down, for example by buying equipment together to get a better price. The planned alliance with Hereford and Worcester should help to make the service more efficient.
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, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at looking after its people.
We found that staff enjoy working for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service. They feel valued and know what is expected of them. They believe that their health and safety are treated seriously by the service. Staff trust the people who are leading them. In turn, senior managers listen to their staff. They regularly visit stations and have shown that they will make changes to the way the service works when problems are raised. The low number of grievances made by staff reflects the service’s open and fair culture.
Staff are well trained. The service invests in training so that staff have the skills they need for their jobs. The service also works to make sure that it has people with the right skills to take on more senior roles as opportunities emerge. However, we found that some commanders do not immediately get the extra training they need for them to take charge of more complex incidents.
Staff believe that the right people are chosen when promotions are offered. But the service has no formal process for picking out staff with the potential to become leaders in the future. Opportunities for support staff are limited. There is no process for on-call staff to achieve promotion to management roles beyond their own stations.
The workforce doesn’t fully reflect the diversity of the community it serves. More could be done to explain to staff why positive action to attract more people from under-represented groups in society is a good thing.