Skip to content
Promoting improvements
in policing and fire & rescue
services to make everyone safer

Hereford and Worcester 2021/22

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 15/12/2021
Requires improvement

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness requires improvement.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

The service is good at protecting the public through fire regulation. It is also good at responding to major and multi-agency incidents. That said, the service requires improvement in its understanding and prevention of fires and other risks. It also requires improvement in how it responds to fires and other emergencies.

Specifically, the service needs to make sure its prevention, protection and response activity are better defined in its community risk management plan (CRMP). It also needs to make sure that firefighters have good access to temporary risk information.

The service needs to adequately identify those who are most at risk from fire, and effectively target its prevention activity. It should also evaluate its prevention work so that it understands what works. This is a cause of concern.

The service works well with other agencies to regulate fire safety. It is good at responding to building regulation consultations. And its staff work well with business owners. Now the service needs to make sure that it has an effective quality assurance process and makes appropriate use of its enforcement powers.

The service’s response strategy needs to give the most appropriate response for the public, in line with the community risk management plan. We note that the service has yet to introduce an effective system for staff learning and debriefs. Finally, the service needs a deeper understanding of, and a plan for, adopting national operational guidance, as well as improved understanding of marauding terrorist attacks (MTAs).

Questions for Effectiveness

1

How effective is the FRS at understanding the risk of fire and other emergencies?

Requires improvement

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement at understanding risk.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

Each fire and rescue service should identify and assess all foreseeable fire and rescue-related risks that could affect its communities. Arrangements should be put in place through the service’s prevention, protection and response capabilities to prevent or mitigate these risks for the public.

Areas for improvement

  • The service should ensure that the aims and objectives of prevention, protection and response activity are clearly defined in its community risk management plan (CRMP).
  • The service should ensure its firefighters have good access to relevant and up-to-date temporary risk information.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

The service is good at identifying risk in the community, but doesn’t use this information well

The service has assessed an appropriate range of risks and threats through its community risk management planning process. When assessing risk, it has considered relevant information collected from a broad range of internal and external sources and data sets. For example, it considered information from the Office for National Statistics, Worcestershire and Herefordshire councils, and socio‑economic population data.

Since we last inspected, the service has made progress in how it works with the local community to build its risk profile. When appropriate, the service has consulted and undertaken a constructive dialogue with staff, communities and others including businesses, local authorities and West Mercia Police. The service made good use of a variety of ways to communicate (such as focus groups, social media, letters and videos) to reach all parts of the community. It did this to both understand the risk and explain how it intends to mitigate it.

However, we found that the service doesn’t effectively use this risk profiling in its prevention, protection and response activities.

The service doesn’t clearly set out how it will deliver its CRMP

After assessing relevant risks, the service has recorded its findings in the community risk management plan (CRMP). But the plan doesn’t fully identify how the risks will be mitigated. It doesn’t give timescales or identify the resources (such as staff or finances) needed to carry out the actions to mitigate the risks. The plan does not detail how the service intends to use its prevention, protection and response resources to mitigate or reduce the risk and threats to the community. The service doesn’t have strategies that are clearly linked to the CRMP. Also, the CRMP doesn’t yet specify the end results the service will use to measure the plan’s success.

The service has some systems in place to identify changes to risk levels in the future. For example, it looks at themes from operational incidents and societal data. But the use of this information to inform service plans isn’t yet clearly established.

The service could improve the way it manages temporary risk information

The service routinely collects and updates the information it has about the people, places and threats it has identified as being at greatest risk. Since our last inspection, the service has made progress on the area for improvement identified relating to the site-specific risk information process. The service now updates information daily on fire engine mobile data terminals. Also, the service has a co-ordinated programme of re-inspections taking place. These daily updates of the terminals and regular re-inspections enable staff to identify, reduce and mitigate risk effectively.

The service has arrangements in place to gather information, such as evacuation strategies during familiarisation visits to high-rise residential flats. It is also recording risk information relating to vulnerable members of the community (including hoarders), to support its response in the event of an incident.

However, the service uses a manual system to collect and update temporary risk information (such as information about sporting events or festivals, or oxygen storage). This system needs better control and scrutiny. We found that some risk information was missing, outdated or was very limited for fire crews who may have to respond to an incident at the location.

The service doesn’t consistently use emerging information from operational activity to inform its understanding of risk

We found limited evidence that the service learns from and acts on feedback from either local or national operational activity. We reviewed several significant incidents and identified that the service wasn’t collecting or sharing debrief information throughout the organisation.

Likewise, we found limited evidence that this information was being used to regularly update risk assessments or inform the assumptions made in the CRMP. The service has station risk plans to support the CRMP, but staff aren’t aware of the information contained within the station plans. Also, the plans aren’t aligned to the latest CRMP.

As a result, the service is missing the opportunity to review risk assessments or inform the assumptions made in the CRMP.

The service has used learning from the Grenfell Tower inquiry to reduce risk

During this round of inspection, we sampled how each fire and rescue service has responded to the recommendations and learning from phase one of the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service has responded to learning from this tragedy. The service has:

  • assessed the risk of each high-rise building in its service area;
  • carried out fire safety audits; and
  • collected and passed relevant risk information to its prevention, protection and response teams about buildings identified as high risk and all high-rise buildings using cladding that is similar to the cladding installed on Grenfell Tower.

The service has developed an action plan. This is derived from a gap analysis of the inquiry recommendations, to update emergency response plans and work more closely with building owners.

2

How effective is the FRS at preventing fires and other risks?

Requires improvement

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement at preventing fires and other risks.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service required improvement in its 2018/19 assessment.

Fire and rescue services must promote fire safety, including giving fire safety advice. To identify people at greatest risk from fire, services should work closely with other organisations in the public and voluntary sector, as well as with the police and ambulance services. They should provide intelligence and risk information with these other organisations when they identify vulnerability or exploitation.

Cause of concern

Prevention activity is not a sufficiently high priority for the service and it is not adequately identifying those most at risk from fire.

Recommendations

By 31 August 2021, the service should have plans in place for:

  • an effective system to define the levels of risk in the community;
  • the development and delivery of a prevention strategy that prioritises the people most at risk of fire and ensures that work to reduce risk is proportionate; and
  • the review of systems and processes for dealing with referrals from partner agencies. This is to make sure they are managed effectively and the backlog of safe and well visits is reduced and resourced in accordance with risk.

Areas for improvement

The service should evaluate its prevention work so that it understands what works.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

The service has made no progress since our previous inspection in 2018 on how it targets its prevention activity

Since we last inspected the service in 2018, it still doesn’t have a clear, risk-based approach that enables it to direct prevention activity towards the people most at risk from fire and other emergencies.

The service isn’t effectively using data sources and risk profiling to target its prevention activity. There is limited monitoring of risk or partnership working to make sure it is effectively identifying risk and driving activities. The prevention department is working in isolation, rather than with operational firefighters, and therefore has limited knowledge of fire station risk profiles or what activities firefighters are doing (or could do) to target risk.

The service doesn’t have a prevention strategy that clearly links to the CRMP

The service doesn’t have a prevention strategy or departmental plan that sets out how it will target those most at risk from fire in its communities. Therefore, it isn’t clear how prevention activity links to the risks and priorities in the community risk management plan (CRMP).

Prevention work generally happens in isolation, and we found little evidence of relevant information being shared between the service’s prevention, protection and response functions. The service has a specialist prevention team, but this has limited capacity. We found very little evidence that operational firefighters carry out prevention activity in a co-ordinated way. At the time of our inspection, operational crews had stopped doing home fire safety checks (HFSCs) (other than after a fire). This was due to the pandemic. The service doesn’t sufficiently measure or evaluate prevention activity. Outputs for both HFSCs and safe and well visits are low compared to other similar fire and rescue services.

As a result, vulnerable people and others may not be getting the support they need.

The service has made limited progress since the COVID-19 inspection

We considered how the service had adapted its prevention work during our COVID-19 specific inspection in October 2020. At that time, we found it had adapted its public prevention work appropriately. However, the service has made limited progress to reduce the 591 outstanding HFSCs it had at the time of the inspection (in May 2021).

The service has put some mitigation measures in place. These include temporarily employing extra people to reduce the backlog, and contacting those who are awaiting HFSCs to see if their circumstances had changed. However, it will take several months for the service to complete this outstanding work. Firefighters stopped doing HFSCs in February 2020. The service will need to reinstate the training that firefighters had completed in preparation for starting safe and well visits that year if they are to do this work.

Prevention staff are confident in carrying out safe and well visits and HFSCs, but firefighters don’t currently do this work

Prevention staff told us they have the right skills and confidence to undertake HFSCs and safe and well visits. These checks cover an appropriate range of hazards that can put vulnerable people at greater risk from fire and other emergencies.

The service has improved staff understanding of vulnerability

Our 2018 inspection included an area for improvement for the service to ensure staff understand how to identify vulnerability and safeguard vulnerable people. Since that inspection, the service has made improvements in its safeguarding training and procedures. When we interviewed staff for this inspection, they told us that they feel confident and have been trained to act appropriately and promptly in response to safeguarding concerns. They knew how to identify safeguarding issues and were aware of the processes to follow.

The service works well with others to reduce the number of fires and other risks

The service works with a wide range of other organisations including Baywater Healthcare, Wye Valley NHS Trust and Wychavon District Council to prevent fires and other emergencies. It routinely refers people at greatest risk to other organisations which may be better able to meet their needs. These organisations include domiciliary care services, social services, and occupational therapists.

Arrangements are in place to receive referrals from others such as telecare providers, housing services and carers associations. The service acts appropriately on the referrals it receives.

The West Mercia police and crime commissioner has commissioned the service to jointly deliver a road safety project with other organisations. The project is called #MORSE (Making Our Roads Safer for Everyone). Early evaluation of this scheme is showing positive results. We are keen to understand if this activity is successful in reducing the number of people who are killed or seriously injured on the roads in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

The service is good at tackling fire-setting behaviour

The service has a range of suitable and effective interventions to target and educate people of different ages who show signs of fire-setting behaviour. This includes the service’s juvenile fire-setter programme. Last year the service received 30 referrals for this scheme. It did interventions online at schools and youth clubs, as it couldn’t make home visits during the pandemic.

The prevention team has an arrangement in place for arson prevention. This includes identifying derelict properties and areas of fly tipping, and monitoring incidents to identify issues, trends and hot-spot areas.

The service doesn’t routinely evaluate its prevention activity

Since we last inspected the service in 2018, we are disappointed to find limited evidence that the service has improved how it evaluates the effectiveness of its activity. Similarly, there is limited evidence that the service makes sure its targeting of prevention activity meets the needs of its communities.

We did find that the service commissioned the University of Worcester to evaluate safe and well visits before the intended service-wide activity for crews. Despite limited responses from the public, some recommendations were made from the evaluation. However, the service has made few improvements in light of the recommendations.

The service doesn’t have clear reporting on the performance and evaluation of prevention activity. And it should develop stronger links with the communications department to promote safety campaigns and evaluate their effectiveness. This means that the service doesn’t know if the work it is doing is benefiting the public, and so it can’t make continuous improvements.

Read the cause of concern progress letter

3

How effective is the FRS at protecting the public through fire regulation?

Good

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is good at protecting the public through fire regulation.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

All fire and rescue services should assess fire risks in certain buildings and, when necessary, require building owners to comply with fire safety legislation. Each service decides how many assessments it does each year. But it must have a locally determined, risk-based inspection programme for enforcing the legislation.

Areas for improvement

  • The service should ensure that it has an effective quality assurance process in place, so that staff carry out audits to an appropriate standard.
  • The service should assure itself that its use of enforcement powers prioritises the highest risks and includes proportionate activity to reduce the risk.
  • The service should ensure it effectively addresses the burden of false alarms.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

The service aligns protection activity to risk, but doesn’t clearly link to the CRMP

The service’s risk-based inspection programme is focused on the service’s highest‑risk buildings. The audits we reviewed were completed in the timescales the service has set itself.

The amount of unsatisfactory fire safety audits completed by the service, which is higher than the England average, suggests that it is targeting effectively. Unsatisfactory audits are those requiring some form of intervention to improve fire safety compliance in premises. The completion of these audits and required remedial action should make buildings safer for the people who use them. However, the service doesn’t have a protection plan that clearly sets out how it assesses risks, or how it targets its enforcement and inspection activity. The service has defined ‘high risk’, has set annual targets for audits, and is targeting premises through its risk-based inspection programme. But it doesn’t have a protection plan clearly linked to the risks identified in its CRMP.

COVID-19 impact on protection

We considered how the service had adapted its protection activity during our COVID‑19 specific inspection in October 2020. At that time, we found it was slow to suitably adapt its protection work for the public. The service suspended its risk-based inspection programme, but didn’t replace it with a suitable alternative risk-based approach (such as introducing desktop reviews).

During this inspection, we are encouraged to see that the service has developed a remote desktop audit process, based on national guidance. It has also completed the audits that were deferred during the pandemic. It completed them using desktop and face-to-face audits.

The service has increased its levels of protection resources

Our 2018 inspection included an area for improvement for the service to ensure it allocates enough resources to a prioritised, risk-based inspection programme.

The service has made good progress with increased staff numbers and competency levels. Further improvements are underway: 32 watch commanders are studying for level 3 fire safety qualifications; and a further 11 members of staff are studying for a level 4 diploma. We will be interested to see how effectively the service uses this additional capacity in the future.

The service is meeting its annual revisit for the 340 premises in Herefordshire and Worcestershire that it has determined to be high risk. The service has set a target of 750 audits per year from 2020 onwards.

The service has taken appropriate action to inspect aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding and other high-rise buildings

The service has carried out inspections at all ten high-rise buildings within its service area. It identified one building as having ACM cladding, similar to the cladding installed on Grenfell Tower. The service gathered information during these inspections, and has made the information available to response teams and control operators. This will enable them to respond more effectively in an emergency. The service has also developed a computer-based training simulation of the building with ACM cladding, so that incident commanders can carry out training.

The service works closely with other agencies to regulate fire safety

The service works closely with other enforcement agencies to regulate fire safety and routinely exchanges risk information with them. For instance, the service:

  • works as a main partner in the MATES (Multi-Agency Targeted Enforcement Scheme) partnership. This partnership aims to improve community safety and brings together a wide range of different enforcement agencies such as Herefordshire Council Trading Standards and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority;
  • carries out joint fire safety inspection and enforcement activity with local authority property enforcement officers; and
  • is an active and valued member of the Herefordshire and Worcestershire safety advisory groups, working together to make sure members of the public are safe at sporting and community events.

The service’s response to building consultations is timely and supports its statutory responsibility

The service responds to almost all building consultations on time, so consistently meets its statutory responsibility to comment on fire safety arrangements at new and altered buildings. In 2019/20 the service responded to 99.3 percent of building consultations within the required timeframe, which is to be commended.

The service works with businesses to promote compliance with fire safety legislation

The service proactively engages with local businesses and other organisations to promote compliance with fire safety legislation. For example, it operates four primary authority schemes with businesses, to support them with their responsibilities in relation to fire safety. It also gives good advice and guidance to businesses on its website, including giving support during the pandemic.

Limited quality assurance takes place

We reviewed a range of fire safety audits carried out at different premises across the service. This included audits as part of the service’s risk-based inspection programme, after fires at premises where fire safety legislation applied, where enforcement action had been taken, and at high-rise, high-risk buildings. We found that the service could improve the consistency of the audits.

Only limited quality assurance of its protection activity takes place. Managers don’t routinely quality assure audits, and may only review work when enforcement action is proposed. There is little quality assurance to ensure inspecting officers are carrying out consistent inspections. We also found inconsistencies in how the service rates similar high-rise premises in terms of risk.

The service doesn’t have good evaluation tools in place to measure its effectiveness or to make sure all sections of its communities get equal access to protection services that meet their needs.

The service isn’t using the full range of its enforcement powers

As identified as an area for improvement in the 2018 Round 1 inspection, the service doesn’t consistently use its full range of enforcement powers. We found it has a limited appetite to prosecute those who fail to comply with fire safety regulations. Since 2016/17, the service has carried out a significant amount of enforcement activity compared to other fire and rescue services. This has taken the form of alterations notices, enforcement notices and prohibition notices. However, it is noticeable that despite the significant amount of enforcement activity, the service hasn’t carried out any prosecutions during this time.

In the year to 31 March 2020, the service issued 43 alteration notices, 69 enforcement notices, 75 prohibition notices and undertook no prosecutions. It has completed no prosecutions since 2013.

The service hasn’t taken enough action to reduce unwanted fire signals

Only limited action is being taken to reduce the number of unwanted fire signals (false alarms due to fire alarm systems) that are received. The number of calls to the service that are unwanted fire signals has remained consistently high for more than five years. In 2019/20, there were 2,462 such calls. This is 31 percent of all calls that the service received. (All false alarms equated to 42 percent of all calls). This means that fire engines may be attending false alarms when a genuine call is received, as well as creating a risk to the public with more fire engines travelling on roads responding to these incidents. 

4

How effective is the FRS at responding to fires and other emergencies?

Requires improvement

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement at responding to fires and other emergencies.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

Fire and rescue services must be able to respond to a range of incidents such as fires, road traffic collisions and other emergencies within their areas.

Areas for improvement

  • The service should ensure its response strategy provides the most appropriate response for the public in line with its CRMP.
  • The service should ensure it has an effective system for staff to use learning and debriefs to improve operational response and incident command.
  • The service should ensure it understands what it needs to do to adopt national operational guidance, including joint and national learning, and put in place a plan to do so.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

The service’s response strategy isn’t clear

The service hasn’t yet published a response strategy that is clearly linked to the risks identified in its CRMP. The CRMP makes a commitment to continuously review fire and emergency cover to make sure there is appropriate provision of resources (such as fire engines and equipment) and crewing arrangements. However, there was no information available to explain the rationale for the location of all its fire engines, response staff and working patterns.

The service isn’t meeting its response standards

There are no national response standards against which the service can benchmark its performance for the public. But the service has set out its own response standards in its CRMP.

The service standard for building fires is for the first fire engine to be in attendance within ten minutes of receiving the call on 75 percent of occasions. The service doesn’t always achieve these standards and in 2019/20 only met this on 52 percent of occasions. In the year to 31 March 2020, the service’s average response time to primary fires was 11 minutes and 5 seconds. This is the slowest time compared to other fire and rescue services in the significantly rural group.

However, we were encouraged to see that the availability of fire engines increased by 7 percent between 2019/20 and 2020/21. If the service sustains this improvement, it could meet its response standards to fires and other incidents.

Staff have a good understanding of how to command incidents safely

The service has trained incident commanders who are assessed regularly and properly. This includes an assessment every two years; an annual health check; and active incident monitoring at least once a year, where the service reviews a person’s command competence at an operational incident. This enables the service to safely, assertively, and effectively manage the whole range of incidents that it could face, from small and routine ones to complex multi-agency incidents.

As part of our inspection, we interviewed incident commanders from across the service. The incident commanders we interviewed are familiar with risk assessing, decision making and recording information at incidents in line with national best practice, as well as Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles (JESIP).

However, we did find that operational discretion (this allows them to use their professional judgment to make decisions in an unforeseen situation at an incident) wasn’t clearly understood within the service.

Control staff regularly get involved in operational learning and debriefing

We are pleased to see the service’s control staff integrated into some of the service’s command, training, exercise and debrief activity. Control staff have participated in several multi-agency exercises. They can contribute fully in debriefs. And they take part in command training (such as the high-rise exercises in the West Midlands).

The service can give fire survival guidance to multiple callers

The control room staff we interviewed are confident they could provide fire survival guidance to many callers simultaneously. This was identified as learning for fire services after the Grenfell Tower fire. We also learnt that fire control has arrangements in place both to communicate with other control rooms and for calls to be diverted if the need arises.

Fire control has good systems in place to exchange real-time risk information with incident commanders, other responding partners, and other supporting fire and rescue services. This includes communicating in a timely way with crews and making sure all staff in the control room are kept up to date with the latest information. Maintaining good situational awareness enables the service to communicate effectively with the public, providing them with accurate and tailored advice.

Staff have good access to risk information within the service

We sampled a range of risk information. This included what information is in place for firefighters responding to incidents at high-risk, high-rise buildings, and what information is held by fire control.

We found that the service sends regular bulletins to give updates on risk information. The service also updates the mobile data terminals on fire engines promptly, which wasn’t the case when we inspected the service in 2018. The information we reviewed was up to date and detailed. Staff could access it easily and understand it.

The service should improve the way it evaluates operational performance and national operational guidance

As part of our inspection, we reviewed a range of emergency incidents and training events.

We are disappointed to find that the service doesn’t consistently follow its policies to assure itself that staff command incidents in line with operational guidance. As a result, the service doesn’t always update internal risk information after an incident.

The service doesn’t always act on learning it has, or should have, identified from incidents. This means it isn’t routinely improving its service to the public. We found that the service’s debrief process was ineffective and hadn’t been improved following our inspection in 2018. We reviewed several significant incidents and found that the service hadn’t identified learning and hadn’t debriefed the incidents in line with its policy. Moreover, the service isn’t following its policy in using structured debriefs for larger incidents or exercises.

The service is carrying out cross-border exercises with some neighbouring fire and rescue services. However, the quality of the exercises varies. It would be advantageous for the service to carry out a review to improve effectiveness.

The service has adopted some National Operational Guidance products. But it has carried out limited and insufficient training for staff on these new procedures. The service will implement further National Operational Guidance in the future and should improve its information, instruction and training for staff.

The service has good measures to keep the public informed during incidents

The service has good systems in place to inform the public about ongoing incidents and help keep them safe during and after incidents. This includes social and local media; the service’s website; and effective measures for joint communication with other organisations, including the local resilience forum (LRF). The service continues to chair the fortnightly LRF COVID-19 Communications Cell. And it takes part in regular exercises as part of the LRF Warn and Inform Group.

5

How effective is the FRS at responding to major and multi-agency incidents?

Good

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is good at responding to major and multi-agency incidents.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

All fire and rescue services must be able to respond effectively to multi-agency and cross-border incidents. This means working with other fire and rescue services (known as intraoperability) and emergency services (known as interoperability).

Areas for improvement

The service should ensure it is well-prepared to form part of a multi-agency response to a terrorist incident, and its procedures for responding are understood by all staff and are well tested.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

The service is well-prepared for major and multi-agency incidents

The service has effectively anticipated and considered the reasonably foreseeable risks and threats it may face. These risks are listed in both local and national risk registers as part of its CRMP. Examples include flooding, flu pandemics and fires at large industrial premises.

It is also familiar with the significant risks that could be faced by neighbouring fire and rescue services that it might reasonably be asked to respond to in an emergency. These include the canal tunnel at Wast Hills, a water bottling plant in Mid and West Wales, and a historic boarding school in Shropshire. However, firefighters don’t always have access to risk information from neighbouring services. The service shares its risk information on a secure national website called Resilience Direct, but neighbouring services don’t always reciprocate. The service should consider how it can review the information it exchanges with neighbouring services more frequently.

The service has the ability to respond to major and multi-agency incidents, but needs to improve understanding on (MTAs)

We reviewed the arrangements the service has in place to respond to different major incidents, such as high-risk building fires, wide-area flooding and a marauding terrorist attack (MTA).

The service has good arrangements in place, which are well understood by staff, for high-rise building fires and flooding. The service has trained staff at a specialised high‑rise training facility in the West Midlands, and it dealt well with a major incident in February 2020 involving significant floods. The service has resources that it can offer to support a major incident; these include an urban search and rescue team, an environmental protection unit and a high-volume pump. Staff are clear on when and how to deploy these resources. However, we found that many firefighters and incident commanders had limited knowledge or training in relation to MTA procedures.

The service works effectively with other fire services

The service supports other fire and rescue services responding to emergency incidents. It carries out training with neighbouring services to share learning. Local teams train on specific risks with other organisations. Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service has also supported other services to respond to emergency incidents (for example, to help prevent a dam collapse in Derbyshire). It is interoperable with these services and can form part of a multi-agency response. It has successfully deployed to other services and has used national assets (such as a high-volume pump).

Incident commanders understand JESIP

The incident commanders we interviewed had been trained in and were familiar with the JESIP.

The service gave us strong evidence that it consistently follows these principles. Staff showed a good understanding of them. Incident commanders we spoke to could effectively describe the joint decision-making principles. They could also describe the procedures for reporting information on major incidents to relevant government departments.

The service is proactively working with other partners and is an active member of the West Mercia LRF

The service has good arrangements in place to respond to emergencies with other partners that make up the West Mercia LRF. These arrangements include comprehensive plans for control of major accident hazards (COMAH) sites. It also has a generic major incident plan, as well as site-specific risk information for sites that pose additional risks.

The service is an active member of the LRF. It vice-chairs for the business management group. And it gives representation at the forum’s management board, strategic and tactical co-ordinating groups, and subgroups. It also takes part in regular training events and uses the learning to develop planning assumptions about responding to major and multi-agency incidents.

Recently, the service has started activity with West Mercia Police related to the use of drones and missing persons, and with West Midlands Ambulance Service about gaining entry to premises where medical assistance may be needed.

The service uses national learning to inform planning

The service keeps itself up to date with joint operational learning updates from other fire services and national operational learning from other blue light partners, such as the police and ambulance trusts. This learning is used to inform planning assumptions that have been made with other partners.

We are encouraged to see the service is contributing towards, and acting on, learning from other fire and rescue services or operational learning obtained from other emergency service partners. This includes the Manchester Arena attack (the Kerslake Arena Review) and five incidents (as of June 2021) that the service has submitted for national learning, such as hazards found in scrap cars.

English Cymraeg