Hertfordshire Fire Service Must Improve

20 December 2018, 12:58 | Updated: 20 December 2018, 13:02

Herts Fire Emblem

The people running the fire service in Hertfordshire have been told they're got work to do to improve the service they offer the public.

Fire chiefs have been told they're not as efficient as they should be at keeping residents safe.

In the first inspection of fire and rescue services in various parts of the UK, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) judged that Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service:

    "requires improvement" at effectively keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks
    "requires improvement" at efficiently keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks
    "requires improvement" at looking after its people

HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services Zoë Billingham said:

"While Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service can be proud of how it responds to fires and other emergencies – and how it keeps the public safe by enforcing fire regulation – it has more to do before we can call it a fully efficient and effective service.

We found evidence of some innovative work on community safety and the service is good at using its powers to uphold fire regulations and bring prosecutions against businesses who aren’t following the letter of the law.

But the service’s risk management plan is out of date, its local risk profiles are out of date and its prevention strategy is about to expire too. This has the potential for having a significant impact on how Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue service can manage and mitigate risk in its communities, and it could prevent the service from working as effectively as it should.

Because the service doesn’t have an up-to-date plan, it can’t be sure that it is getting the most out of its resources. The true cost of running this fire and rescue service is unclear. The county council carries out a lot of back-office work, but the service doesn’t factor this into its annual budget. Without a proper understanding of its financial resources and local risk, the service can’t explain its rationale for how it allocates resources between its prevention, protection and response duties. The service understands that this needs to change.

I am encouraged to see that staff speak highly of the service’s open leadership style. The chief and deputy chief fire officers have the trust of their workforce, who believe they want to see the service change for the better.

I am also encouraged that since our inspection, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has already taken steps to address the areas for improvement. Importantly, the service is at an advanced stage of updating its risk management plan. The service will then be in a better position to plan for and deliver more effective services to the communities across Hertfordshire."