Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has vowed to improve after an inspection found it "required improvement".
In its first inspection of fire and rescue services, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) judged that the service required improvement overall.
The service required improvement for effectively keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks and at looking after its people.
However, the report also highlighted that the service has a good understanding of the risks in the Nottinghamshire area and that it works well with partner organisations.
It has been rated ‘Good’ at protecting the public through fire regulation, taking legal action where necessary, and at responding to national risks.
John Buckley, NFRS Chief Fire Officer, said: “We have worked closely with HMICFRS throughout the inspection process and welcome the publication of our first report today.
“Whilst there is acknowledgement of what we do well, we will not be complacent about what we need to do to improve our performance, to ensure we continue to maintain public confidence in this service.
“Even before the inspection process began we were already aware of these areas and have - and are - making significant steps towards improving our processes and procedures. Our new Strategic Plan launched in April, that replaces our old IRMP, outlines our commitment to the safety of those living and working in Nottinghamshire. This, together with individual departmental business plans from across the Service, will help to drive our continuous improvement agenda forward.
“We will continue to monitor progress and will regularly report back to the Fire Authority on what has been achieved.”
The inspection has also found that the service effectively promotes its values and culture and that staff are positive about the way the service looks after their safety and wellbeing.
Areas for improvement include using its integrated risk management plan (IRMP) to ensure it keeps the public safe and secure from the risks identified; evaluating prevention work to understand the benefits better; to accelerate plans to improve ICT so that the service makes best use of available technology to support operational effectiveness and efficiency; and to put appropriate mechanisms in place to enable closer monitoring of hours worked by staff.
Councillor Michael Payne, Chair of the Fire Authority said: “We have a high level of trust with our local communities and we will ensure this is maintained. We do know there will be some
challenges ahead, however, we remain confident that the work being carried out now and in the future will increase our effectiveness and efficiency and focus on our staff, ultimately supporting our vision for creating safer communities across Nottinghamshire.”
HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services Zoë Billingham said: “We rated Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service as ‘requires improvement’ across all three areas of our inspection. While the service performs well in some areas, such as protecting the public through improving compliance with fire regulations, many issues remain.
“We are concerned that the service does not fully understand the nature and level of risk to the public. This affects their ability to manage their fire engines and crews as effectively as possible. There are too few fire engines, which affects their emergency response capability.
“We were pleased to find that Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service works well with local businesses to improve safety through compliance with fire regulations, improving safety in buildings and workplaces.
“The service is less efficient than it should be. Its resources are not aligned to its priorities. This financial year the service is anticipating an overspend of £1.2 million. This is not financially sustainable.
“We had some concerns with aspects of workforce management. A general lack of monitoring and recording means that temporary promotions and performance development reviews are not administered in a transparent way.
“On a much more positive note we were impressed with staff commitment to the values and culture of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, which it effectively promoted throughout the service. For example, the service is working hard to remedy its under-representation of black and ethnic minority employees. Positively, staff generally feel looked after and that the service cares for their wellbeing.
“The staff of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service are dedicated to protecting the public from fire and other risks. I recognise this is a challenging set of findings for the service, but I look forward to seeing the improvements it will make”.