Inspector says ‘effective’ Bedfordshire fire service has areas to improve

Fire service
Fire service

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service “needs to make improvements” in the year ahead, according to its watchdog.

In its recent inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Consabulary and Fire and rescue Service (HMICFRS), the local fire service was rated ‘Requires improvement’ in two of its three key areas, ‘Efficiency’ and ‘People’.

It was rated ‘Good’ in one key areas, ‘Effectiveness’.

The report stated that the force was good at understanding fire risks and priorities, and that this was reflected in station plans.

It went on: “The service uses social media more and more often to communicate with local people. But it should engage better with local minority communities.

“The service has taken limited steps to bring about efficient working practices. Its plans are largely based on what it did previously.”

Inefficient working practices at stations included:

• duplication;

• too much bureaucracy;

• reliance on paper-based systems.

The report added: “Turnover of on-call staff is high. A project started in 2015 has yet to improve this.

“The service should make its workforce more representative of the communities it serves. Some staff do not understand the value of this, or the case for taking positive action to increase diversity.”

Speaking in response to the inspection, Bedfordshire Chief Fire Officer Paul Fuller CBE said; “I am delighted that the HMICFRS recognise we are good at effectively delivering services to local communities. I also welcome the areas for improvement identified within the report, which is an important part of gaining learning from the process.

“These will be acted on to drive and direct our process of continuous improvement across the organisation. I believe that this report demonstrates areas of strength that our staff should be rightly proud of.

“Over the coming months the Service will work, with support from its partners to address the areas of improvement identified within the report. I would like to thank all staff and partners who participated in the inspection process for their support and hard work, now and going forward.”