Cambridgeshire 2018/19Read more about Cambridgeshire
This is HMICFRS’s first annual assessment of fire and rescue services. This assessment examines the service’s effectiveness, efficiency and how well it looks after its people. It is designed to give the public information about how their local fire and rescue service is performing in several important areas, in a way that is comparable with other services across England.
The extent to which the service is effective at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks is good.
The extent to which the service is efficient at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks is good.
The extent to which the service looks after its people is good.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services
HM Inspector's summary
We are pleased with the performance of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service in keeping people safe and secure.
The service keeps people safe and secure from fire and other emergencies effectively. It understands these risks well, and is good at preventing and responding to them. It also makes good use of fire regulation to protect the public, and responds well to national risks.
The service is also efficient at keeping people safe. It uses its resources well. It has a culture of improving efficiency, which should keep it affordable in future.
The service is good at looking after its people. More specifically, it is good at:
- promoting the right values and culture;
- getting the right people with the right skills;
- ensuring fairness and promoting diversity; and
- managing performance and developing leaders.
Overall, we commend Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service for its performance. We are confident it is well equipped for this to continue.
How effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.
The service understands the risk of fire and other emergencies in its area. It learns about risk using various methods. It uses what it finds out to produce an effective integrated risk management plan (IRMP). The fire service writes its plan for the public, the service’s staff and its partners.
The service is good at preventing fires and at protecting the community from other risks. Its prevention strategy includes some innovative schemes to promote community and road safety. But it needs to evaluate its schemes better, and to work better with others to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads.
Cambridgeshire FRS uses fire regulation to protect the public. It uses an effective risk-based audit programme to decide which properties to check. It uses an appropriate mix of approaches to enforce fire regulations, providing support to businesses and informal action, but issuing formal notices when needed, often jointly with other organisations.
The service is good at responding to fires and other emergencies. But it needs to improve the consistency of its 999-call handling. It should also make better use of its structured debrief process after complex incidents.
The service is good at responding to national risks. But it needs to work with all its neighbours, not just some of them. It should make cross-border risk information easy for staff to access. And it should conduct cross-border exercises with all its neighbours.
How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is good.
The service makes good use of resources. But it needs to better understand the financial challenges that it may face after 2020. The service uses various working patterns. It is agile enough to change its systems to make them more efficient.
It works with its neighbours to take advantage of savings from working together. Its business continuity arrangements are robust. The public can expect a resilient service even during extraordinary events.
The service’s productivity is generally good. But it should avoid duplicating work in protection audits and collecting risk information.
Cambridgeshire FRS is good at making the service affordable now and in the future. It identified a way of saving £0.5m to the end of 2018/19. It has achieved those savings. It secures improved value for money through collaboration, innovation, effective procurement and use of technology.
The service has invested wisely for the future. It holds strategic reserves, with detailed plans for investment. The service manages its money well and strives to improve in this area.
How well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at looking after its people.
The service promotes the right values and culture among its staff and leaders. It puts its people’s wellbeing first. Staff use and appreciate its support services.
The service’s health and safety policy is clear. It is backed up by dedicated health and safety specialists. We are confident that staff understand and comply with their responsibilities.
A stated set of values underpins the service’s culture. Staff respect leaders and their efforts to improve workplace culture. The service commissioned an action plan to improve the culture. But it has made slow progress against the plan in some respects. There is limited evidence of bullying and harassment. But staff are not confident in reporting such incidents, should they occur. It needs to do more to make staff feel comfortable reporting bullying and harassment if it occurs.
The service is good at getting the right people with the right skills. Its workforce planning is sophisticated and robust enough to prevent current and future skills gaps. The service is good at ensuring fairness and promoting diversity. Leaders look for feedback. The service is keen to engage better with staff.
The service knows its workforce is less diverse than the population it serves. It is working to change that.
Cambridgeshire FRS could improve the way it manages staff performance. It reviews staff performance in a clear and structured way. But some staff weren’t confident about the process and didn’t engage with it.
The service expects its new career management process will help it find and develop high-potential staff. But many staff didn’t know about or understand the process. Some staff said the promotion process was not fair and transparent enough. The service should to do more to help staff better understand the promotion process.