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HMIC to become inspectorate for fire and rescue service

20 July 2017

FIRE MINISTER Nick Hurd has announced that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary will extend its responsibility to the inspection of fire and rescue services in England.

In order to reflect this new programme of inspections, HMIC will change its name to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire &andRescue Services (HMICFRS) and will expand to become a fully integrated inspectorate for the police and fire and rescue services. HMICFRS will have a new logo to reflect its new identity.

Sir Thomas Winsor will be appointed Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services, in addition to continuing as HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary. Zoë Billingham will act as the lead for the inspection programme. Each of the HMIs will have responsibility for a number of fire and rescue services. Sir Thomas Winsor said: “This marks a momentous chapter in the 160-year history of HMIC. We will draw on our experience of inspecting and reporting on police forces to develop a framework to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the 45 fire and rescue services in England.

“In the same way that police officers run towards situations that others would instinctively avoid, the events of the last few weeks remind us how we rely on the bravery and professionalism of our firefighters, and I pay tribute to their courage.

“HMICFRS’s inspections will be designed to promote improvements to make everyone safer.”

The government says inspections will allow the public to see – from a small number of easy to understand categories – how well their local fire and rescue service is performing and improving year on year. Inspections will aim to:

  • Facilitate the improvement of the services provided by FRSs so that they may reduce the risks faced by local communities;
  • Establish good practice and areas for improvement; and
  • Improve accountability of fire and rescue services to the communities they serve.

Inspections will be risk-based and proportionate, with rounded inspections and graded judgments. The inspection regime will focus on three areas: effectiveness, efficiency and leadership. FRSs will be judged in the following categories: outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. This is the same approach taken with police forces in England and Wales.

HMICFRS will be consulting widely with the fire and rescue service and interested parties to design and pilot the inspection methodology. The pilot inspections will allow that methodology to be tested and, if necessary, to be refined for the full programme of 45 inspections.

HMI Zoë Billingham said: “Watching the coverage of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, we all saw how firefighters risk their lives to keep us safe. No one can underestimate the dedication and bravery of individual firefighters, so it is only right that the service they work within operates and supports them as well as possible.

“We have been working closely with the service in recent months to develop our inspection framework so that our inspections will help share best practice and drive improvements across England.

“I’m looking forward to continuing this work with the fire and rescue service as, first, we run pilots with a small number of fire and rescue services in 2018, before moving to a full programme of inspections later that year. We will be reporting on each of the 45 FRSs over the next couple of years, culminating in a national summary of the overall performance of the FRS.”