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Dorset and Wiltshire 2021/22

Read more about Dorset and Wiltshire

This is HMICFRS’s third 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 outstanding.

The extent to which the service looks after its people is good.

Wendy Williams, HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services

HM Inspector's summary

It was a pleasure to revisit Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, and I am grateful for the positive and constructive way that the service engaged with our inspection.

I congratulate the service on its first-rate performance in keeping people safe and secure from fires and other risks. We have judged the service to be outstanding in two areas; in the way it uses its resources to manage risk and that staff are equipped with the right training and skills.

It has made excellent progress in many areas, and we have identified four examples of innovative or promising practice. We were impressed with how the service collaborates with its partners. For example, its partnership with utility companies has helped the service to secure 25,000 carbon monoxide detectors and 2,500 wi-fi carbon monoxide detectors over the next 5 years.

We are also impressed with the value-for-money dashboard the service has created, which is aligned to the strategic priorities. This clearly shows where money has been saved for reinvestment, where the service has done more with its resources, future costs that have been avoided, and how it has saved money for partner organisations. The service has developed an impressive performance dashboard, which is easy to navigate and provides operational staff a clear summary of their performance. The dashboard is refreshed daily.

Since our last inspection, the service has introduced a new one-to-one performance management process, which is effective. The staff we spoke to during our inspection spoke highly about the recognition button, that forms part of the appraisal process. This allows staff to recognise a positive contribution a colleague has made.

The service has experienced major incidents and we found it has good arrangements in place. It is also encouraging to see that on-call availability is improving.

We found that the service comprehensively monitors, reviews and evaluates the benefits and results of its collaborations. This was an area for improvement we identified in the last inspection. The service could clearly demonstrate what benefits and results the collaboration brings through its value-for-money dashboard.

The service’s financial and workforce plans are consistent with the risks and priorities identified in its integrated risk management plan (IRMP). And plans are built on sound scenarios.

We are pleased with the progress the service has made in the way it looks after its people. The service has strong workforce planning in place for all roles. This makes sure skills and capabilities align with what is needed to effectively deliver its community safety plan (CSP). Workforce and succession planning is consistently scrutinised through regular meetings to discuss requirements.

There are many positive findings during the inspection, and we found that all areas for improvements identified in our last inspection have been addressed. But the service can still make further improvements, such as ensuring that all urgent risk information and safety flashes have been read and understood by staff. We have identified two areas of outstanding practice and are sure the service will wish to build on this achievement. We look forward to working with the service as it continues to improve.

Effectiveness

How effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure?

Last updated 20/01/2023
Good

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment

We are pleased with the progress that Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has made in its effectiveness. Since our last inspection, the service has published its new CSP 2021–24. It describes how prevention, protection and response activity is resourced to mitigate or reduce the risks and threats the community faces, both now and in the future.

We were impressed with how the service collaborates with its partners. For example, its partnership with utility companies has helped the service to secure 25,000 carbon monoxide detectors and 2,500 wi-fi carbon monoxide detectors over the next 5 years. We have identified this as an innovative practice. We were also pleased to see prevention activities being evaluated so the service understands how effective its work is.

In our last inspection, we identified the service’s on-call availability as an area for improvement. It is encouraging to see that progress has been made in this area. The service has responded well to major incidents and we found it has good arrangements in place to respond in the future.

Although there are many positives in this area, the service should make sure that operational staff have read and understood any urgent risk information or safety flashes.

View the five questions for effectiveness

Efficiency

How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure?

Last updated 20/01/2023
Outstanding

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is outstanding.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has made commendable progress in relation to efficiency and we have judged the service to be outstanding for how it uses its resources to manage risk.

We are impressed with the value-for-money dashboard the service has created, which is aligned to its strategic priorities. This clearly shows where money has been saved for reinvestment; where the service has done more with its resources; future costs that have been avoided; and how it has saved money for partner organisations. We have identified this as an example of innovative practice.

The service has an excellent performance dashboard which is easy to navigate and provides operational staff a clear pathway to access their performance. For example, it shows staff how many hours they have worked in specific areas. We have identified this as a promising practice. The service has a predominantly on-call workforce and we were pleased to find that on-call availability has improved.

The service’s financial and workforce plans are consistent with the risks and priorities identified in its CSP. And plans are built on sound scenarios. The service told us it had made annual savings of £6.6m in the 4 years after Dorset and Wiltshire and Swindon fire authorities combined in 2016 and it has made a further £1.3m savings annually since.

We found that the service comprehensively monitors, reviews and evaluates the benefits and results of its collaborations with other organisations. This is an area for improvement we identified in the last inspection. In its value-for-money dashboard, the service could clearly demonstrate what benefits and results each collaboration brings.

View the two questions for efficiency

People

How well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?

Last updated 20/01/2023
Good

Overall, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at looking after its people.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment

The service has shown a strong commitment to driving improvements in the way it develops and maintains its workforce, notably with strong planning for all roles. This makes sure skills and capabilities align with what is needed to effectively deliver the service’s CSP. Workforce and succession planning is subject to consistent scrutiny in the form of regular meetings to discuss requirements.

Since our last inspection, the service has introduced a new one-to-one performance management process, which is effective. The staff we spoke to during our inspection spoke highly about a ‘recognition button’ that is part of the appraisal process which allows staff to recognise a colleague’s positive contribution. We have identified this as a promising practice.

Almost all respondents to our staff survey were aware of the service’s values (233 out of 234). We spoke to many staff who said they felt confident in challenging any inappropriate behaviours.

The service recognises it needs to increase the diversity of its workforce. It had limited success in its wholetime firefighter recruitment campaign despite carrying out positive attraction activities.

The service has clear policies on staff working dual and secondary contracts. However, during our inspection we spoke to staff whose hours weren’t regularly monitored and some were working excessive hours.

View the four questions for people

Key facts – 2020/2021

Service Area

2,370 square miles

Population

1.50m people
up2% local 5 yr change

Workforce

46% wholetime firefighters
54% on-call firefighters
0.55 per 1000 population local
0.56 national level
down4% local 5 yr change
down5% national 5 yr change

Assets

50 stations
74 fire engines

Incidents

2.2 fire incidents per 1000 population local
2.7 national
2.4 non-fire incidents per 1000 population local
2.7 national
4.1 fire false alarms per 1000 population local
3.8 national

Cost

£22.73 firefighter cost per person per year
£25.22 firefighter cost per person per year (national)

Judgment criteria

English Cymraeg