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West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service makes ‘tangible improvements’

25 February 2020

A revisit by inspectors has reported that West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has made ‘tangible improvements’ in a number of areas.

Inspectors noted ‘a clear commitment’ by the fire service and West Sussex County Council to make improvements.

They said they could see an accelerated pace with the improvement work over the past few months, mitigating the risk to public safety.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services revisited the service last month, following an inspection in November 2018.

In a letter to the chief fire officer, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, they said there were ‘tangible improvements’ with Prevention and Protection activities.

The inspectors went to five stations, spoke to staff in areas where they identified issues, and interviewed those responsible for implementing the service’s action plan.

They noted that staff told them they felt supported and included in the improvement work, especially new IT solutions.

They praised the service’s new Programme Management Office’s ability to support driving these improvements forward with staff.

In her conclusion, Dru Sharpling, the lead HMI Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services, said: “During this revisit we found a clear commitment from you and the WSCC to make the improvements the service needs. You recognise that more action is necessary, but we have seen tangible improvements, especially within the last four months, in mitigating the risks to public safety we identified.”

Areas they asked the service to consider further included how it quality assures its Safe & Well Visits. This is in line with a national theme which says services need to do more to evaluate their prevention work. The service will now use all the inspector’s feedback to further improve its work.

Chief fire officer Sabrina Cohen-Hatton said: “It is really important that the service is moving forward. We have since been re-inspected on fire protection and prevention and tangible improvements were found to be made. With the council’s ongoing investment into West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service and the continued hard work and dedication of my staff, I have every faith we will continue to improve.

“We know there is still much to do, and we are realistic about the amount of time this work will take to get right, but the revisit has shown that we are making very real progress.”

Cabinet Member for the Fire and Rescue Service and Communities Duncan Crow added: “A lot of work has been going on to address the issues raised at the first inspection. It is a journey, but I have every confidence that we are moving positively and in the right direction as the re-inspection visit has demonstrated.”

Read the letter here: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/news/news-feed/west-sussex-fire-and-rescue-service-revisit-2020/