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Warwickshire 2021/22

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 12/01/2022
Requires improvement

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness requires improvement.

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

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service has not made the progress that we would expect since our inspection in 2018.

It has developed a new integrated risk management plan (IRMP) and identified the risks in the community as part of that. But the risk information available to firefighters still isn’t always up to date.

The service hasn’t made progress in making sure it targets its prevention work at people who are most at risk from fire. It has a significant backlog in this area. The service has made the needed investment in its protection team. But it is not yet seeing the benefit of this. So, we haven’t seen any improvement yet in its risk-based inspection programme. We did see an improvement in the level of enforcement action.

We found the service is good at responding to national risks. But it is not meeting its targets for responding to emergencies in its own communities.

Questions for Effectiveness

1

How well does the FRS understand the risk of fire and other emergencies?

Requires improvement

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement at understanding risk.

Warwickshire 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 make sure its IRMP is informed by a comprehensive understanding of current and future risk by working with those communities that are most at risk of fire and other emergencies. It should use a wide range of data to build the risk profile and use operational data to test whether the risk profile is up to date.
  • The service should make sure that the aims and objectives of prevention, protection and response activity are clearly outlined in its IRMP.
  • The service should make sure it gathers and records relevant and up-to-date risk information to help protect firefighters, the public and property during an emergency.
  • The service needs to ensure that risk information in Control is consistently kept up to date.

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

The service has assessed an appropriate range of risks and threats after a thorough integrated 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. The service works with the county council, which provides the data about communities from a range of sources, and data from national reports by public health and other government departments. The service analyses this data to provide information on local risks that affect community risk. For example, it identified that local authority proposals to create more cycle paths and walkways in Stratford would affect how long it took fire engines to attend incidents.

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 community groups, local authorities and the police. During the pandemic it made good use of its website and social media to reach all parts of the community. This helped it to both understand the risk and explain how it intends to mitigate it. The service received its highest response to date to its consultation on its IRMP. We welcome this.

The service doesn’t clearly set out how it will fulfil its risk management plan

After assessing relevant risks, the service has recorded its findings in an IRMP. But the plan doesn’t fully indicate to the public how the risks will be mitigated. It doesn’t give timescales or stipulate the resources it needs to mitigate the risks. Some of the actions have been carried over from the previous plan but have no timescales for completion, for example the development of new training facilities and a new station at Rugby South.

It’s not clear from the plan how the service intends to use its prevention, protection and response resources to reduce risk and threats to the community it serves now and in the future. The service has departmental plans for these areas, but they do not always clearly link back to the IRMP and the departmental plans are not available to the public.

The service knows that it does not have enough resources to fulfil all the actions
in the plan. It has some ways of estimating changes to risk levels in the future. For example, it reviews incident data, specifically flooding risks. But this analysis is limited. The service has not clearly set out the steps it will take over the five-year IRMP period should risk levels change, even though this is expected.

The service can’t be sure that the risk information it holds is accurate and up to date

In our last inspection we raised a concern about the risk information available to firefighters. Despite this, we are disappointed to find the service still can’t ensure that this information is relevant and up to date.

The system the service uses to collect and update risk information about premises can’t be relied on to be accurate. It doesn’t automatically update the mobile data terminals which firefighters rely on for risk-critical information at emergency incidents, or the mobilising system in control. So staff must make changes manually. This delays the passing of risk information to stations and control and means there is a risk that the information isn’t accurate.

We also found that on-call staff don’t routinely get involved in assessing risks in their own areas. This means that they are not always familiar with risks or given up-to-date information about those risks. We heard about an example where on-call staff on a routine community visit found in their area a significant risk which wasn’t on the mobile data terminal.

We found that the risk information that is collected is communicated well. Staff in the control room showed us that they could communicate information about risk. Urgent risk information is processed within 72 hours and staff in the control room showed us how the service uses flash messages to highlight a temporary risk.

The service doesn’t consistently use emerging information from operational activity to test its risk profile and challenge its risk management plan

We found limited evidence that the service learns from and acts on feedback from either local or national operational activity. We reviewed a range of significant incidents where we would have expected the service, in line with its policy, to carry out operational learning. We are disappointed not to find evidence of this.

So, the service is missing the opportunity to review risk assessments or challenge the assumptions in the IRMP.

The service has taken appropriate action to reduce risk following the Grenfell Tower inquiry

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.

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service has taken some steps to respond to this tragedy. The service identified that it has 38 high-rise buildings but none of these have cladding that is similar to the cladding installed on Grenfell Tower. It has carried out a fire safety audit at each building and ensured extra safety measures have been put in place. The service has bought a turntable ladder and smoke hoods.

But we found a lack of detail on how the service records information on high-rise premises or premises with cladding similar to the cladding installed on Grenfell Tower and how it shares this information with its prevention, protection and response teams. However, the service has recognised this and is taking action to increase the detail needed.

2

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

Inadequate

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is inadequate at preventing fires and other risks.

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service was good 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

The service hasn’t done enough since the last inspection to develop prevention activity that prioritises those most at risk of fire.

Recommendations

By 31 August 2021, the service should:

  • develop a clear prevention strategy that prioritises the people most at risk and make sure that work to reduce risk is proportionate;
  • put in place an effective system for joint reviews after significant or fatal incidents. Reviews should be at an appropriate strategic level in the service and with partner agencies; and
  • review its systems and processes for dealing with referrals from partner agencies to make sure they are managed in accordance with risk.

Areas for improvement

  • The service should evaluate its prevention work so that it understands what works.
  • The service should make sure it puts in place measures so it can reduce the backlog of safe and well visits that has built up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

The service doesn’t have a prevention plan that clearly links to the risk management plan

The service does not have a prevention plan that clearly sets out how it will target those most at risk from fire in its communities. It has a departmental action plan which sets out the activities the department will undertake. But these aren’t always clearly linked to the risks and priorities in the IRMP.

Prevention work mostly happens in isolation. We found little evidence that the service shares relevant information between its prevention, protection and response functions. For example, we reviewed records of significant fires and found in all but one there was no evidence that information had been shared with other functions.

We are particularly concerned to find that during the pandemic the service stopped carrying out joint reviews with other agencies it works with after significant or fatal fires. This is contrary to its policy. Four significant fires, including fatal fires, and two significant other fatalities occurred during the period we reviewed. But there was no learning to understand whether the service’s systems and processes are effective at keeping people safe from fires. So, the service is missing the opportunity to use the learning from these events to reduce the risk of further fatal fires.

After the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the service carried out some prevention activity at high-rise and high-risk premises. There were 13 such premises which were domestic. We are concerned to find the records of the activity were incomplete and that there is no programme of ongoing prevention activity at these premises.

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 inspection in September 2020. At that time, we found it had adapted its public prevention work appropriately. Although we acknowledge the impact the pandemic has had, the service has made limited progress to reduce the backlog of safe and well visits. On 31 March 2021, there were still 667 outstanding visits and the service doesn’t have a plan to prioritise and complete them. During the pandemic, the service also stopped receiving telephone referrals from the county council contact centre, from which it used to get information about vulnerable people. People were instead directed to the website. This means that if some people are unable to use the website option then there is a risk that the service may not be getting all the referrals it needs to make sure it keeps people safe from fire.

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

The service still doesn’t have a clear, risk-based approach that directs prevention activity towards the people most at risk from fire and other emergencies. The service uses only limited information and data to target its prevention activity. It does not have an effective way to prioritise referrals for safe and well visits, the majority of which come from the county council. Other referrals that are passed to the operational crews are acted on in date order rather than priority order.

We found only limited evidence of vulnerable people being referred to other relevant organisations if their needs couldn’t be met by the service. We are particularly concerned to find the service doesn’t have a system to communicate with the referring agency when it has been unable to contact the individual. We are also concerned to find that over half the referrals from agencies were either still outstanding or that the service had closed them after making attempts but without carrying out a safe and well visit.

Staff have not been adequately trained to conduct safe and well checks

The service departmental action plan states that it will train operational staff on conducting safe and well visits, which include falls assessments. But most operational staff we spoke to told us they don’t have the right skills and confidence to make safe and well visits. They told us that there had been limited and in some cases no training in this area.

Staff are not appropriately trained to respond to safeguarding concerns

The staff we interviewed told us that they have received little or no training in identifying safeguarding concerns. And, while they did say that they felt they would be able to identify a safeguarding problem and would feel confident to refer it to their manager, they did not provide us with any examples.

The service is good at collaboration with health through the hospital-to-home scheme but could do more to explore opportunities with other relevant organisations

The service works with some local organisations, for example the police and ambulance service, to provide road safety messages, and with the Safer Warwickshire Partnership group.

The service operates a hospital-to-home scheme on behalf of local health trusts. Staff transport patients who are ready for discharge from hospital to their homes and carry out a safe and well check. The scheme helps to reduce preventable hospital admissions and delayed transfers of care. And it gives the service access to people who may be vulnerable. The service is valued by both hospital staff and householders.

The service is good at tackling fire-setting behaviour

The service works closely with the police to tackle fire-setting behaviour and support the prosecution of arsonists.

In the service area there has been a downward trend in deliberate fires since 2015. It has a lower rate of deliberate fires than the national average.

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 the way it evaluates how effective its activity is. And we are also disappointed to find limited evidence of how it makes sure all its communities get equal access to prevention activity that meets their needs.

We did find that the service had evaluated the pilot of the hospital-to-home scheme. As a result, this scheme was extended. But we found that a lack of capacity in the prevention team means that they don’t have time to evaluate their main work. So, the service doesn’t know if its work is benefiting the public, and it can’t make continuous improvements.

Read the cause of concern progress letter

3

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

Requires improvement

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement at protecting the public through fire regulation.

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service required improvement 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.

Cause of concern

The service hasn’t done enough since the last inspection to determine its highest risk premises to inform its risk-based inspection programme.

Recommendations

By 31 August 2021, the service should:

  • develop a protection strategy with a resourced and prioritised risk-based inspection programme;
  • review its risk-based inspection programme to make sure it identifies its highest risk premises; and
  • put in place a clear plan with timescales for improving its management of risk information.

Areas for improvement

  • The service should make sure there are enough qualified staff across the service to carry out fire safety audits competently.
  • The service should make sure 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.

Protection activity doesn’t clearly link to the integrated risk management plan

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. It has a departmental plan, but this isn’t clearly linked to the risks identified in its IRMP. We found no planned approach to how the service will inspect, audit and review premises. It is unclear what level of activity the service aims for. And it is not clear how it evaluates what benefit protection activity will have for the public.

Protection activity generally happens in isolation rather than across the whole service. In the files we reviewed we did not find that learning from inspections after fires was considered or disseminated across the service. The service’s protection, prevention and response functions do not routinely exchange information.

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

We considered how the service had adapted its protection activity during our COVID‑19 specific inspection in September 2020. At that time, we found it had adapted its protection work well. Since then we have found that the service has a backlog of inspections that it wasn’t able to complete during the pandemic. The service has a target to carry out 175 audits of high-risk premises annually. In the year ending 31 March 2021 it had only audited 96 such premises. It has no clear plan to complete these inspections.

During the pandemic the service started using electronic rather than paper-based building regulation submissions. It has continued using these, and that has made it quicker at processing such submissions.

Activity is not clearly aligned to risk

The service has a risk-based inspection programme, but it is limited in scope and not up to date. The service relies on a premises risk information system to inform its risk-based inspection programme. But staff told us that they can’t rely on this system as it often produces inaccurate information. We identified this problem in our previous inspection in 2018. We are concerned to find that the service has not made enough progress to improve the system. The risk-based inspection programme hasn’t been updated since 2019 so the service can’t be sure that it has identified all high-risk premises.

We also found that the service isn’t consistently auditing the buildings it has targeted in the timescales it has set. Some of the audit files we reviewed were of a good quality, but others were incomplete.

The service has taken appropriate action to audit high-rise buildings

The service identified that it doesn’t have any high-rise buildings with cladding that is similar to the cladding installed on Grenfell Tower. But some of its lower-rise buildings do have that cladding. It has 38 high-rise buildings and has carried out a fire safety audit at each. It has acted appropriately to ensure additional safety measures have been put in place. In some cases where there were significant structural or compartmental problems the buildings have been demolished.

However, we found a lack of detail on how the information from these audits is recorded or shared with response and prevention teams.

Quality of audits is inconsistent

We reviewed a range of audits of different premises across the service. This included audits:

  • that were 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.

Not all the audits we reviewed were completed in a consistent, systematic way, or in line with the service’s policies.

Limited quality assurance takes place

We found limited evidence of appropriate review and oversight of fire safety inspections. We were told that this is because of the lack of qualified fire safety inspectors and the workload of the team.

Operational staff have not been trained adequately in fire prevention and protection. So, although they carry out risk inspections, the quality of these inspections can’t be assured.

The service doesn’t have good evaluation tools 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 has made progress on taking enforcement action

Since we last inspected the service in 2018 it has made some progress in enforcement activity. In the files we reviewed we saw that it had taken proportionate enforcement action. The service has introduced a compliance level calculator to help it decide the appropriate level of enforcement. It has also recently successfully prosecuted a business that was failing to comply with fire safety regulations.

In the year to 31 March 2020, the service:

  • issued no alteration notices,
  • issued 10 enforcement notices,
  • issued 11 prohibition notices; and
  • undertook one prosecution.

It has completed one prosecution since 2016.

There are not enough qualified staff to provide the risk-based inspection programme

We said in the last inspection that the service should ensure it allocates enough resources to a prioritised and risk-based inspection programme.

Since then the service has invested in its protection staff and recruited six new inspecting officers. These staff are working towards appropriate accreditation, but they are not yet fully qualified. So, the service is yet to see the benefit of this investment. The staff who are qualified to do the risk-based inspection programme are often not as productive as they could be because too much of their time is absorbed by an inefficient system.

The service has plans to introduce the level 3 business fire safety qualification for operational staff to help with low-level fire safety audits, but at the time of the inspection this had not happened and operational staff have not received training in protection.

The service does not routinely share information with other agencies

The service works inconsistently with other enforcement agencies to regulate fire safety. It doesn’t routinely exchange risk information with them. The files we reviewed showed that in some cases information had been appropriately shared with, for example, the Warwickshire Care Partnership, but in other cases we found information wasn’t shared when it should have been.

The service has improved its response times to building consultations

The service has significantly improved the time it takes to respond to building consultations on fire safety arrangements at new and altered buildings. In the year ending 31 March 2020 it had only responded to 25.8 percent of consultations within the required timeframe (112 of 434). This figure has increased to 88.3 percent in 2020/21 (318 of 360). This is to be commended. But the service needs to do more to improve communication with the other agencies it works with.

More work is needed with businesses to promote fire safety

The service could do more to engage with local businesses and other organisations to promote compliance with fire safety legislation. It has done some good work since the Grenfell Tower fire with local authorities and property management companies to address the risks in high-rise properties. But the lack of capacity in the team means that they have not been able to engage with business forums. And the service needs better information on its website about business fire safety.

Not enough action has been taken to reduce unwanted fire signals

The service changed its policy two years ago to reduce the number of unwanted fire signals. But this did not work as intended and resulted in the service attending more calls.

The number of calls that are unwanted fire signals has increased significantly from 543 in 2017/18 to 2,590 in 2019/20. The service is also attending more calls than in previous years. So, engines may be unavailable to attend genuine incidents because they are attending false alarms. This also creates a risk to the public because more fire engines are travelling on roads at high speed.

The service is reviewing its unwanted fire signals policy.

Read the cause of concern progress letter

4

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

Requires improvement

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

Warwickshire 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 integrated risk management plan.
  • The service should ensure its operational and control room staff have good access to relevant and up-to-date cross-border risk information.
  • The service should ensure it has an effective system for learning from operational incidents.

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 plan isn’t clear

The service doesn’t have a response plan that is clearly linked to the risks identified in its IRMP. The service is over-reliant on historical data based on demand, for example demographic data, crime data and information on arson, to inform the IRMP and district resource plans.

Where it has identified that it needs to move resources to better mitigate risk it has been slow to develop plans. And on other occasions, such as the proposal to make changes to the site at Leamington Spa, the service could not explain a clear rationale for its plan.

The service is not meeting its response standards

There are no national response standards of performance for the public. But the service has set out its own response standards in its IRMP. It states that it will get to all life risk calls in 10 minutes 75 percent of the time for the first engine and in 15 minutes 90 percent of the time for the second engine.

The service doesn’t always meet these standards. In the year to 31 March 2020, the service responded to life risk incidents within 10 minutes 71 percent of the time with the first engine and within 15 minutes 80 percent of the time with the second engine. This got worse in the year ending 31 March 2021, when it responded to life risk incidents within 10 minutes 66 percent of the time with the first engine and within 15 minutes 75 percent of the time with the second engine. The service states that it aims to do more prevention and protection activity in those areas it can’t reach in 10 minutes, but we did not find evidence of this. We were told the service put resources where they will have most impact on risk. This was the reason for the proposal for a new station at Rugby South, but it has not yet been built.

The service does not meet its published availability targets for fire engines

To support its response plan, the service aims to have 90 percent of on-call fire engines available at major stations and 100 percent of wholetime fire engines available at all times. The service doesn’t always meet this standard. In the year ending 31 March 2020 it achieved 85 percent on-call availability and 98 percent wholetime availability. It also stated that it would aim to have no instances where a fire engine failed to mobilise to an incident. In the same year there were nine instances of this. The data for the year ending 31 March 2021 shows a slight improvement but the service is still not meeting its standards.

The service can command incidents effectively

Incident commanders are trained and assessed regularly and properly. This includes an annual health check and a full assessment every two years. So, the service can safely, assertively and effectively manage all the incidents it might expect, from the small and routine to the complex, and those involving multi-agency organisations.

As part of our inspection we interviewed incident commanders from across the service. They showed us they were familiar with assessing risks, making decisions and recording information at incidents in line with national best practice and the joint emergency services interoperability principles (JESIP).

Control staff do not regularly get involved in operational learning and debriefing

We found that the service’s control staff are invited to debriefing and operational learning events. But they rarely attend because the control room often doesn’t have enough staff to meet its minimum crewing levels. The control room has not fully tested and exercised its fallback arrangements with Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service control since February 2020 because of the restrictions due to the pandemic.

The service can deal with fire survival guidance calls

The control room staff we interviewed were confident they could provide fire survival guidance to many callers simultaneously. After the Grenfell Tower fire, this was identified as something services need to be able to do. Staff are properly trained and can get help with multiple calls from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service control room. Staff provided a good example of giving fire survival guidance to a caller which had a successful result. But we found that the service doesn’t have arrangements for giving fire survival guidance to callers who don’t speak English. We are disappointed that staff could not identify on their system other buildings with cladding similar to the type installed on Grenfell Tower, although the service has this risk information.

Control has good systems 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 up to date with the latest information.

If the service needs to pass calls to Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service control then the two services can both access and update the incident information on a shared system. With this good situational awareness the service can give the public accurate and tailored advice.

Staff have good access to risk information within the service but not for neighbouring fire and rescue services

We sampled a range of risk information, including that given to firefighters responding to incidents at high-risk, high-rise buildings, and that held by fire control.

We found that the control room and stations did not have access to appropriate and up-to-date over-the-border risks. We found that this was a problem in our previous inspection. But we found that the service sends out regular bulletins to update risk information and the mobile data terminals on the fire engines are updated promptly. The information we reviewed was up to date and detailed. Staff could easily access and understand it.

The service doesn’t consistently evaluate operational performance and national operational guidance

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

We are pleased to see the service audits incident command to assure itself that staff command incidents in line with operational guidance.

We found examples of operational learning from incidents being spread through the service. Following incidents and exercises, stations complete a form capturing that learning, which they send to the operational planning team. The team then sends operational bulletins to all stations by email to share the learning.

But we are concerned to find that there has been no formal structured learning after serious incidents for some time. We reviewed six such incidents in the last 18 months. We found that none had a formal debrief. So, information was not shared internally or with other relevant organisations. We also reviewed two multi-agency exercises and a significant commercial fire. Learning from these had not been fully shared within the service or with other agencies over a year later.

We also found the process for allocating and monitoring actions after incident debriefs was inefficient. It is a manual process operated by one individual and we found gaps in timescales and monitoring. The service can’t be sure that all actions are completed. So it isn’t routinely improving its service to the public.

The service doesn’t do enough to keep the public informed about incidents

The service has some systems to inform the public about ongoing incidents and help keep them safe during and after incidents. But these systems aren’t comprehensive enough for the service to be sure the messages are reaching the public.

It uses social and local media to warn and inform the public about ongoing incidents. But the support for this isn’t available in the evenings and at weekends so it has to rely on other support, for example the police. The service’s website doesn’t have any live incident information.

5

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

Good

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at responding to major and multi‑agency incidents.

Warwickshire 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 understands national and cross-border risks and is well prepared to meet such risks.

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 integrated risk management planning. For example, it has major incident plans and site-specific operational plans for all its high risks in the county such as Warwick Castle and the Kingsbury Oil Terminal.

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. For example, it has carried out a multi-agency exercise with Leicestershire FRS. But firefighters don’t always have access to risk information from neighbouring services. The service shares its risk information on Resilience Direct but this isn’t always reciprocated by neighbouring services.

The service is good at responding to major and multi-agency incidents

We reviewed the arrangements the service has to respond to different major incidents, including flooding and marauding terrorist attacks (MTA).

The service has good arrangements, which are well understood by staff. For example, staff in the control room were clear on the action to take if a major incident were called. The service does not have its own MTA team but can support other services in the event of such an attack and a lead officer works closely with police, ambulance and local authorities. The service has resources to support a major incident, such as a mass decontamination unit, environmental unit and high-volume pump and staff are clear on when and how to deploy these resources.

The service can work effectively with other fire services

The service supports other fire and rescue services responding to emergency incidents. It does cross-border exercises with neighbouring services to share learning and local teams train on specific risks with other agencies. It has also supported other services to respond to emergency incidents, for example the flooding event in Hereford and Worcester FRS. It is intraoperable with these services and can form part of a multi-agency response. The service has successfully deployed to other services and has used national assets as such.

The service carries out cross-border exercising but the plan needs to be updated

The service has a cross-border exercise plan with neighbouring fire and rescue services so that they can work together effectively to keep the public safe. But this plan needs updating and during the pandemic fire services have done less testing and exercising. Nevertheless, the service still carried out two major exercises.

Incident commanders understand JESIP

The incident commanders we interviewed had been trained in and were familiar with the joint emergency services interoperability principles.

The service could provide us with strong evidence that it consistently follows these principles. All the incident commanders that we spoke to could effectively describe the joint decision-making principles. And they could describe the procedures for reporting information on major incidents to relevant government departments.

The service is improving the way it works with other relevant organisations

The service has good arrangements to respond to emergencies with other partners in the Warwickshire Local Resilience Forum (LRF). This includes using national co‑ordination and advisory framework arrangements to supplement resources if needed.

The service is a valued participant in the LRF. The chief fire officer chairs the LRF and the service leads the training and exercising sub-groups. The recently reformed training and exercising group is developing a schedule of training with plans for flooding and HS2 rail exercising.

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 the police service and ambulance trusts. This learning informs planning assumptions made with other organisations the service works with.