• Ratings for efficiency and effectiveness move to good from requires improvement
  • More work to do on ‘People’ area, which requires improvement

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service has been commended for the improvements that it has made in keeping the county safe, in its second inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services.

A full inspection of the service was carried out earlier this year. In a report published today (Wednesday 27 July), the Inspectors say that they are “pleased to see the service has made significant progress since the 2018 inspection in how effectively and efficiently it keeps people safe and secure from fires and other risks.”

The inspection looks in detail at work across three categories – effectiveness, efficiency, and people. The inspection found that there had been major improvements in the Service’s effectiveness at responding to and preventing fires and protecting the public through regulation.

These areas of work were individually graded as ‘Good’, and the Service received a ‘Good’ grading across the board for its operational effectiveness.

Efficiency, making the best use of resources and having a robust plan to manage its finances well into the future, also received a ‘Good’ rating overall from the Inspectors.

These areas had been graded as requires improvement in the previous inspection in late 2018.

Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey and Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold praised the work of firefighters and staff, which they said has clearly resulted in an improved service to the people of Northamptonshire.

They also acknowledged that there is more work to do in the ‘People’ area, however, where the HMICFRS graded Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service as ‘requires improvement’.

The ‘People’ area looks at work such as promoting the right values, ensuring fairness, and encouraging diversity. HMICFRS found that improvement is needed in each of these areas. They noted, however, that the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service leadership team is showing “strong strategic intent” to push forward in this area of work.

HMICFRS praised the Service’s improvement and overall direction, saying that they “commend the service on the changes it has made and expect it to continue to resolve the further areas for improvement we have identified.”

Darren Dovey, Chief Fire Officer of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “I am pleased that the fantastic efforts of our firefighters and staff have had an impact and resulted in such a significant improvement. It’s testament to how hard we have worked that this Service is now judged as good across the board in the services that keep the public safe.

“The last three years have not been easy but now we can see that our hard work is showing results. I want to thank the firefighters and staff of this service, who have taken us from strength to strength, working to make improvements against a challenging financial background and at the same time as dealing with and supporting other services through the pandemic.

“Moving to the governance of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner has been central to our improvement, giving us stability and independence and the support of his office, including fighting for increased funding, has allowed us to reach a stable financial position and to make the investments we need to modernise.

“Our performance has come a long way, but now I will be challenging everyone to put the same energy into improving the culture of our organisation to make Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service the most supportive place to work, where everyone can be themselves and give their best.”

Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “I am very pleased that the independent assessment from HMICFRS confirms what I believed was the case – that Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service is providing a much-improved service in the way they keep the county safe.

“During the extraordinary heatwave last week, we saw our firefighters and staff working hard in very challenging situations and I know that people join me in thanking them. They should be proud of how much they have improved, and I always believed that moving under my governance, with increased opportunities for joint working, would enable Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service to deliver the best possible service to the people of this county.

“But I am disappointed by what HMICFRS had to say about values and inclusion and there is clearly much work that needs to be done in that area. I know the Chief Fire Officer and his team will be as disappointed as I am in the report’s findings, and I know they will be working just as hard to create a better culture as they have done to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

“I expect to see plans in place to improve the culture as soon as possible. I will also be looking for opportunities for further collaboration with Northamptonshire Police as both organisations work to build trust and confidence across the board.”

The full report can be viewed or downloaded from the HMICFRS website