2023/25 FRS assessment

This page sets out information specific to the next inspection cycle which will take place over a two-year period, starting in 2023. This is the fourth assessment of fire and rescue services (FRS). You can find more general information about our FRS inspections on the How we inspect page.

Characteristics of good 

In our Round 3 inspections, we measure FRSs against the ‘characteristics of good performance’. These characteristics describe the levels of performance needed for an FRS to achieve a grade of ‘good’. These characteristics allow our inspectors to make consistent assessments across all services. They also mean that services can see what they are being graded against.

The characteristics are examples to help inspectors to determine appropriate judgments. They aren’t intended to prescribe specific standards or to be exhaustive lists of how we expect services to perform.

The characteristics have regard to national standards and take account of operational guidance and evidence from research, but we aren’t limited to these. We are entitled to establish our own view of efficiency and effectiveness. We will take into account new guidance, standards and research as they become available.

Themes for 2023/25 assessments 


Our assessment of effectiveness will continue to consider how well each FRS is performing its principal functions of preventing fires from happening, making sure the public is kept safe through the regulation of fire safety and responding to emergency incidents. We will continue to provide the public with clarity on how well FRSs are prepared to respond to major incidents with other FRSs and agencies.


For this cycle of inspections, new questions have been added which focus on whether a service can demonstrate what savings it has made, the effect of these on its operational performance, and whether its use of reserves is sustainable. Our assessment of efficiency makes a clear distinction between the way each FRS uses its resources to manage its current risks and how well it is securing an affordable way of managing its risks in the future. During Round 3, we will place a greater focus on assessing how productive a service is and what productivity improvements it has made since our last inspection. We will also continue to improve how we inspect value for money.


Our assessment of how each FRS looks after its people will remain focused on leadership at all levels of the organisation. We will continue to look closely at training and there will be a particular emphasis on values, culture and diversity and how services are trying to overcome inequalities.”