Surrey Fire and Rescue Service was inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in September 2020, regarding the way in which they responded to the Covid-19 pandemic; the findings have been published today.
The service summarised HMICFRS’s findings as: The service –
- was able to make an effective initial response to the pandemic,
- had enough resources available to respond to the level of demand,
- had better availability of fire engines than in the same period in 2019,
- carried out new activities to support the Local Resilience Forum – this includes mortuary management, PPE management and delivery and help for the vulnerable,
- is seen as a reliable and willing partner of the Local Resilience Forum,
- continued to recruit to ensure vacancies were filled,
- continued to work with those responsible for fire safety in high-risk premises with cladding similar to that at Grenfell Tower,
- made sure staff had the skills and equipment needed, including timely PPE,
- provided regular and relevant communication to all staff,
- consulted with unions locally to implement the tripartite agreement,
- offered individual risk assessments to all staff,
- changed the way they train to ensure firefighters were skilled,
- ensured that its control room remained resilient.
The inspectors also suggested a number of improvements that the service should consider, such as; consider what steps it needs to take to maintain the inspections of higher risk premises, continuing to work on evaluation, adopting the new ways of innovative working for the long term, to secure lasting improvements, continue to ensure value for money and continue to work with Public Health colleagues to ensure wellbeing of staff.
The service’s Chief Fire Officer, Steve Owen-Hughes, said, “We are really pleased with this report, it recognises all of the fantastic work that we undertook during the first stages of the pandemic. The many positives within this report are due to the great people we have in our service. This includes the staff and volunteers who had direct involvement in Covid-19 activities, as well as those who continued to work in their usual roles, ensuring we delivered our statutory responsibilities and worked on our improvement journey.
“The report also enables us to continuously improve the way we respond to and recover from this pandemic.”
Denise Turner Stewart, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said, “We fully recognise and commend the extraordinary efforts and ‘above and beyond’ work ethic of our staff during the pandemic. I think the report shows exactly how much effort is going into the additional activities, alongside the positive change that is taking place within the service and the proactive way in which our staff have reacted.
“As the fire authority, we will now work with the service to take on board the recommendations and continue our improvement journey.”
All UK fire and rescue services were inspected last year in light of the pandemic, this is in addition to their usual inspections by HMICFRS. You can read the full report on HMICFRS’s website here.