Our approach to monitoring services

His Majesty’s Inspectors (HMIs) routinely monitor the performance of all fire and rescue services in England in order to ensure that:

  • any emerging problems with individual services with respect to effectiveness, efficiency or how well they look after their people are spotted quickly, and that chief fire officers and fire and rescue authorities (or equivalent bodies) are aware of those problems and are taking corrective action; and
  • if problems with the service’s efficiency, effectiveness or how well they look after their people are substantial, and there is a low prospect of them being resolved, those problems are raised formally with the service or the authority, so that they can respond.

The monitoring process is linked to the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) Assessments. Information from the FRS assessments feeds into the monitoring process, and vice versa. HMIs are guided by, but not limited to, examining the core questions from the FRS assessment when monitoring services. All of this information contributes to the HMI’s regular assessments of each service. Additionally, data analysis and routine information gathering undertaken by HMICFRS staff form part of the monitoring process.

HMICFRS reviews the approach to monitoring frequently to ensure that it evolves in line with changes to fire and rescue services in England.

The monitoring process

Routine monitoring identifies apparent issues for closer scrutiny. Some of these will be outside the control of the service or the authority, or will already have been tackled; but some may be indicators of systemic or management failings in the service. The decision on whether to follow up any concerns with the service and authority rests with the HMI who leads on HMICFRS’s relationship with that service area.

There are two stages in HMICFRS’s monitoring process:

  1. Scan – The default phase of monitoring, the scanning phase uses data and information from a range of sources to highlight poor or deteriorating performance and identify potential areas of concern. Regular monitoring will be undertaken and a summary monitoring report produced that will be discussed with HMIs and, if possible areas of concern are found, at the regular monitoring group meetings.
  2. Engage – If a service is not responding to a cause of concern, or if it is not succeeding in managing, mitigating or eradicating the cause of concern, it is probable it will be moved to the Engage phase. The service may receive support from external organisations such as the National Fire Chiefs Council and Local Government Association.

Fire and rescue services in Engage

Fire and rescue services currently in Engage