An inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) confirmed that Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has “adapted and responded to the pandemic effectively”, highlighting the additional support the Service has been offering its communities throughout the public health crisis.
In August 2020, the Home Secretary commissioned HMICFRS to examine how fire and rescue services are responding to the pandemic. Today (Friday, 22 January 2021), the findings of this virtual inspection were released. The inspection focused on activities undertaken by the Service between April and June 2020.
The findings highlight that the Service maintained its critical core services, adapted to the challenges posed by the pandemic, supported its communities and partners through additional activities, continued to manage its resources well and prioritised the wellbeing of its staff throughout.
Between April and June, notable additional activities that the Service undertook included working with our colleagues across the Thames Valley to deliver over six million pieces of Personal Protective Equipment to frontline health and care workers and our on-call firefighters supporting Slough Borough Council by visiting over 200 residents that were vulnerable and shielding to check on their welfare.
Since June, this work has continued with the Service with a number of additional activities now underway. These include training a group of firefighters who are now driving ambulance in support of South Central Ambulance Service, supporting Slough Borough Council with their mass rapid COVID testing, and supporting the community rollout of the vaccination programme.
Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, Councillor Colin Dudley, said: “The COVID inspection provides our residents with a clear and independent view on how the Service is responding to the pandemic. The inspection findings highlights a number of areas of good practice from within the Service demonstrating the work we have undertaken to play our part in the response to this dreadful virus.
“I believe that Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service provides a fantastic service. This inspection has highlighted the great work of the amazing staff at RBFRS in ensuring we maintain the delivery of our critical services, providing enhanced and tailored support to our staff, whilst also supporting our partners in the wider response.”
Chief Fire Officer, Trevor Ferguson, said: “Whilst we recognise that there will still be challenges ahead of us, we are really pleased that the hard work, dedication and commitment of the team has been recognised and that the people of Royal Berkshire can be confident in the service they are receiving.
“We are continuing to work in support of our local communities, and have already built on the positive work highlighted in the COVID inspection to ensure that our residents continue to receive the best possible service from us.”
To hear more about our COVID-19 response so far here, please see the below video.