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Watchdog tells Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service to improve performance

Hertfordshire's fire brigade has been told it must improve following scrutiny by an independent watchdog.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) reviewed the performance of all 45 services across the country.

Its report concluded: "We are satisfied with some aspects of the performance of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) in keeping people safe and secure. But there are several areas where it needs to make improvements.

"The service must improve its effectiveness. More specifically, it should understand better its risk and put in place a new integrated risk management plan (IRMP). There has been a delay because of uncertainty about its future governance model.

"However, since our inspection, we note that the service has proceeded with developing an IRMP. The service should also improve its prevention work."

Although the service was judged good at protecting the public and responding to fires, emergencies and national risks, it was told it must use its resources better and "ensure it offers, and continues to offer, an affordable service".

The county council was also told it needs to look after its staff better by promoting the right values and culture, getting people with the right skills, ensuring fairness and promoting diversity, and developing leadership skills.

The watchdog said: "Overall, we would like to see improvements in the year ahead."

Cllr Terry Hone, Herts County Council's cabinet member for community safety, said: "There are no surprises for us in this report. We know that the front-line emergency service Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service provides is good and we're already aware that some of the back-office systems and plans need updating. We've been honest and transparent with the inspectorate about where we think our strengths and weaknesses are and the inspectorate has broadly agreed with us.

"Since the inspection team visited us in the summer we've already started work to improve in the areas where we know we need to. I'm confident that the plans we're putting in place, most significantly the draft Integrated Risk Management Plan that we're currently consulting on, will enable the fire service to build on its strengths and improve where it needs to."

The county council is currently consulting on an IRMP which sets out its vision for the future of the fire service.

Service statistics

  • Perceived effectiveness of the service by the public in Herts is 85% compared with 86% nationally
  • HFRS attends 8.9 incidents per head of population compared with 10.2 in England
  • The service carries out 3 home fire risks per 1,000 population compared with 10.4 nationally
  • HFRS carries out one fire safety audit per 100 premises compared with three across the country
  • In the 12 months to March 31, 2018, HFRS attended 10,485 incidents – 42% were false alarms, 26% were fires and 32% were other incidents
  • A Herts firefighter costs £21.29 per person per year compared with £22.38 for England as a whole

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