Warwickshire 2018/19Read more about Warwickshire
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.
Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services
We are satisfied with most aspects of the performance of Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service (FRS). But the service needs to improve how it looks after its people to give a consistently good service.
It is effective at keeping people safe and secure. 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.
But the service needs to improve the way it protects the public with fire regulation.
We found the service to be efficient. It uses its resources well and it provides an affordable service.
However, it needs to do better at promoting diversity and ensuring fairness. And it should improve how it manages performance and develops leaders. But it is good at promoting the right values and culture. And it is good at getting the right people with the right skills.
We are encouraged by the positive aspects we have identified. We look forward to seeing 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?
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.
The service has a clear plan for managing risk, based on accurate data from a good range of sources. But it could do more to involve the public in its decision making.
It conducts regular and efficient checks on local businesses to make sure they meet fire regulations. The information from these checks is made available to crews through the mobile computers in fire engines. However, this information is not always up to date due to a lack of staff capacity.
The service has effective strategies to prevent fires and other emergencies. It makes good use of social media, and has appointed an arson officer, who works closely with the police force. But we are concerned that staff do not fully understand how to target prevention work at the people who are most at risk from fires.
Our main area of concern is the service’s work on protection, which requires improvement. It hasn’t been prosecuting businesses that fail to meet fire regulations, and it hasn’t allocated enough resource in this area to enable the team to work in a structured way with other enforcing authorities.
The service is well placed to respond to fires and other emergencies. Staff are confident about how to mobilise in response to different kinds of incidents, and work well together. However, the service needs a better procedure for investigating cases where a fire engine is not dispatched due to a lack of on-call firefighters arriving at the station. It also needs to improve staff awareness of safeguarding.
The service has clear procedures for managing national risks, and has agreements in place to work with neighbouring services. It should make sure its staff are confident in accessing information about incidents across the county border.
How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is good.
The service meets its objectives using planning and collaboration. It has identified areas for improvement – such as response times and prevention work – and has effective strategies to tackle them. Its working relationship with the county council has also improved.
There are some ways in which the service could improve productivity. We have particular concerns about the role of watch manager response commander, which was introduced recently. The responsibilities and duties of this role aren’t well defined, and resources aren’t being used efficiently as a result.
We were pleased to see evidence of several collaborations with other services, but these projects haven’t always been properly evaluated. Future collaborations should be more structured, with evaluation built in from the start.
The service has done good work to make sure it makes the best use of resources and stays financially viable, particularly setting up a partnership with West Midlands FRS. It has good asset management plans. We have some concerns about procurement though, as important contracts have been allowed to lapse without being renewed, and staff told us about technical problems with the service’s new fire engines.
How well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?
Overall, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement at looking after its people.
The service takes its responsibility for staff wellbeing seriously. It has procedures in place for monitoring and supporting those who are off work sick. The ‘one service programme’ has improved communication and staff engagement. However, the service needs to engage with support staff as well as operational staff and improve its staff engagement network.
Training for operational roles is generally good, although the central training team should be able to access information about which staff are due for training. The service needs to improve its training for control staff, who lack knowledge about important areas such as breathing apparatus emergency.
The service shows a willingness to learn and improve – for example, it audited all buildings with four floors or more in Warwickshire after the Grenfell Tower fire, and put measures in place as a result. However, it could do more to disseminate the findings of its evaluations throughout the service.
There needs to be a real improvement in equality and diversity from the perspective of ensuring a diverse mix of staff. The service is overwhelmingly white and male. Service staff do not have a good understanding of the importance of diversity, and there is a perception that the service has already done what it can to recruit a more diverse mix of staff. Staff from minority groups told us that they haven’t been consulted about what more the service could do in this area, and they do not hold forums such as the equality and diversity group in high regard.
The service also needs to improve the way it manages staff performance. The appraisal system isn’t working well, and there is no coaching or mentoring in place to develop future leaders, though we saw examples of limited informal mentoring. As a result there is a lack of clarity around requirements for progression which has led to a widespread perception that career progression depends on ‘who you know’.