Improvements at West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service have been highlighted in the latest inspection report published recently by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.
The inspectors highlight “significant progress in many areas” throughout the report but recognise that the service has further work to do to build upon these improvements.
The inspection was carried out in the autumn of 2021, and assessed the service based on three key areas: effectiveness, efficiency and people.
The report highlights:
significant improvements within the service’s efficiency, which has improved from “requires improvement” to “good” in this latest inspection.
The service’s effectiveness has been rated as “requires improvement”, but crucially the inspectors have removed their causes for concern highlighted in the 2019 report. Two areas within this area have also improved from “requires improvement” to “good”, including “Understanding fires and other risks” and “Responding to fires and other emergencies”.
There are no inadequate ratings.
Improvements within the service’s People area, which has improved from “inadequate” to “requires improvement”. One cause for concern has been identified within this area, which the service has already taken steps to address in the West Sussex Community Risk Management Plan 2022 – 2026 – the service’s four-year business plan.
In the 2019 report, inspectors raised serious causes for concern in both the Prevention and Protection activities of the service. But following increased funding for both of these areas, these teams have since been expanded to help address the inspectors’ concerns. The latest inspection report highlights the good work of both of these teams.
Chief Fire Officer, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, said: “I am so proud of all of our staff who have helped see our service embark upon our improvement journey. And I am even more delighted that HMICFRS has recognised all of the work that has been put in to change course since our last inspection.
“This is of particular note when considering that everything we have achieved has been delivered amid the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when all emergency services were under increasing pressure to ensure our communities remained safe.
“When we embarked upon this improvement journey in 2019 we knew that everything would not change overnight. It was vital that we laid strong foundations on which to build these improvements to ensure they would be sustainable and support the delivery of each of these programmes of work to ensure their success.
“The service has received significant investment from the county council to allow us to target the areas for improvement effectively, and I am delighted the inspectors recognised our service to be efficient and good value for money for the public. I’m so very pleased that the dedication of our staff to deliver on our improvement journey has been recognised by HMICFRS.”
Cabinet Member for Community Support, Fire and Rescue, Duncan Crow, said: “I am pleased that the hard work and dedication from all corners of our fire and rescue service has been recognised in this inspection report. Significant progress has been made, and while I recognise there is still work to be done – the service has come a very long way in a very short space of time.
“The publication of this report is an important milestone for WSFRS and represents the culmination of three years of work, carried out amidst an unprecedented global pandemic.
“I would like to put on record my thanks to all of our dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the past few years to keep our communities safe.”