His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) released their report today (20 January), which confirmed Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is performing to a high standard, receiving three ‘good’ judgments across the three areas (effectiveness, efficiency and people) inspected.
The Inspection focused on how effectively and efficiently the Service is at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks, as well as how well it looks after its people.
The principal findings from the HMICFRS assessment of the Service over the past year are as follows:
- The Service understands the risk and demand in its area. It has evaluated the way it mitigates risk using its prevention, protection and response teams. It has revised its risk-based inspection programme and is now more focused on the highest risk. This makes sure it can keep the communities of Royal Berkshire safe from fire and other risks.
- The Service is facing challenges in recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce. The cost-of-living crisis and pressures raised through pension changes make workforce planning difficult for the service. It should continue to assess innovative ways to mitigate this risk.
- The Service has improved its work in equality, diversity and inclusion and its workforce demonstrates positive values and behaviours. The Service seeks feedback and challenge from its workforce and the community. This supports it to make decisions based on the needs of both.
It is the third round of inspections of fire and rescue services in England, after the Service was first inspected in 2019 and in autumn 2020, a second inspection considered how the Service was responding to the pandemic.
Responding to the report, Councillor Paul Gittings, Chair of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said: “The judgment provided by HMICFRS is extremely encouraging and testament to the public service of all those who work for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
“As a Fire Authority, we are committed to creating safer and more resilient communities by preventing incidents, protecting homes and businesses and responding to emergencies. Our priority is to maintain a safe and efficient service, whilst balancing our budget in an increasingly challenging period for public finances.”
Wayne Bowcock, Chief Fire Officer, said: “We are really happy with the verdict from HMICFRS. This rigorous inspection process has provided us with a clear and independent assessment of where we are as a Service.
“While we recognise that we will face challenges in the years ahead, this report recognises the fantastic public service that is being provided by our staff to the people of Royal Berkshire. I am particularly proud that our workforce culture has been highlighted as positive within the report, as we put a strong emphasis on maintaining a “One Team” culture across all our teams.”
This report has been published while RBFRS is consulting on its plans for the next four years, as set out in the draft Corporate Plan and Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) 2023 – 2027.
The CRMP explains how all fire and rescue-related risk in the community is evaluated and how resources are allocated to manage those risks. These risks include house fires, road traffic collisions and chemical spills, but they also include other less common hazards such as wide area flooding, terrorist attacks and building collapse.
Please have your say in the consultation by visiting rbfrs.co.uk/haveyoursay by 5pm on Monday, 27 March 2023.