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Isle of Wight 2018/19

Read more about Isle of Wight

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 requires improvement.

Matt Parr, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services


HM Inspector's summary

We are satisfied with most aspects of the performance of Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service in keeping people safe and secure. But it needs to improve how it looks after its people, to give a consistently good service.

The service is effective at keeping people safe. It is good at:

  • understanding the risk of fire and other emergencies;
  • preventing fires and other risks;
  • responding to fires and other emergencies; and
  • responding to national risks.

But the service should improve how it protects the public with fire regulation.

It provides an efficient service. We found it makes good use of its resources, and its service is affordable.

The service needs to improve the way it looks after its people. In particular, we are concerned about the way it ensures fairness and promotes diversity. It also needs to improve the way it promotes the right values and culture, and how it manages performance and develops leaders. It is, however, good at getting the right people with the right skills.

We are encouraged by the positive aspects we have identified. We look forward to seeing a more consistent performance over the coming year.


How effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?

Last updated 20/12/2018

Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.

The service understands risk well. It assesses risk based on a range of data. Its plan to manage risk focuses on the unique challenges of an island-based fire and rescue service. But information about risk is not always up to date. The service doesn’t complete all scheduled visits to update risk information. It should address this so that firefighters are fully informed.

Most of the service’s prevention work to prevent fires and other risks is done as a result of the public or other organisations reporting fire safety concerns. Preventative work is not necessarily prioritised towards those who are most at risk of fire. The service should review whether this is successful. The service works well with partner organisations on the island.

The service has a limited programme to inspect the highest risk premises on the island. There are not enough trained firefighters or staff to do inspections. The service helps business owners to comply with standards. It does not often take enforcement action. The service needs to make sure it is fulfilling its legal duties.

The service is good at managing its resources. It trains its staff well, and gives specialist support at incidents when needed. However, there are not always enough retained firefighters available. Response times are above the England average. It also needs to make sure that information on risk is up to date, and available to firefighters. The service has procedures to debrief incidents and identify areas where it could do better, but it needs to improve how it debriefs major incidents.

It is good at working with its partner organisations, and is well prepared to respond to incidents that require the service to work closely with neighbouring fire and rescue services. This helps it to respond to calls and manage incidents more effectively. It also works closely with the ambulance service.

View the five questions for effectiveness


How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?

Last updated 20/12/2018

Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is good.

The service’s budget is part of the total budget of Isle of Wight Council. It has made significant savings in recent years. This has been in part through the strategic partnership with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service called ‘Delivering Differently in Partnership’ and identifying internal efficiencies. The service plans to achieve further savings from realising the outcomes of its service review. This includes reviewing how it responds to emergencies. The service should extend the scope of this review to take full advantage of potential benefits.

The service works closely with its neighbouring services to find new and improved ways of doing things. It could focus more on staff productivity and on increasing the number of retained firefighters.

Isle of Wight FRS works well with other fire services and other public sector services. This saves money and brings a better service to islanders. The service makes sure it can recover from unexpected events that might affect its services, or those of the council.

The cost of all public sector services on the Isle of Wight is high. This is because of its size and location. Despite this, the service compares its performance data with those of other services to try to make improvements. It has made a positive contribution to the council’s savings requirements. It has also been integrating its services with the council’s, to become more efficient and effective.

View the two questions for efficiency


How well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?

Last updated 20/12/2018
Requires improvement

Overall, Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement at looking after its people.

The service has much work to do to be an inclusive employer when judged by contemporary standards. This is a cause of concern. The service does not do enough to promote the right values and culture. Staff told us they were worried about bullying in the service, as well as domineering behaviour by managers.

We also found examples of language that excludes women. The service should review the impacts of its diversity strategy. This must ensure that the recruitment, retention, development and progression of staff is open and fair to all. The service should also improve how it supports staff wellbeing. This is particularly for when staff experience traumatic incidents. Many staff are not confident in reporting their concerns. The service could do more to listen to the views if its workforce. It is not good at engaging with staff or responding to concerns.

The service is facing considerable organisational change. Over the past few years it has already seen its strategic management team move from working on the island to being based in Hampshire. It is not able to plan properly until it knows more about its future. However, it understands the skills of its workforce and trains its staff well. It has a good culture of learning and improvement.

We found that the service could do more to manage performance and develop its future leaders. Processes to assess staff performance are not consistent. The service should bring in a way to support the development of staff and leaders, both laterally and for those seeking promotion.

View the four questions for people

Key facts – 2020/2021

Service Area

147 square miles


0.14m people
up2% local 5 yr change


44% wholetime firefighters
56% on-call firefighters
1.05 per 1000 population local
0.56 national level
down15% local 5 yr change
down5% national 5 yr change


10 stations
13 fire engines


2.3 fire incidents per 1000 population local
2.7 national
6.7 non-fire incidents per 1000 population local
2.7 national
4.4 fire false alarms per 1000 population local
3.8 national


£30.69 firefighter cost per person per year
£25.22 firefighter cost per person per year (national)

Judgment criteria