Isles of Scilly 2018/19Read more about Isles of Scilly
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.
Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services
HM Inspector's summary
We are pleased with most aspects of the performance of Isles of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service in keeping people safe and secure. But it needs to make improvements in how it looks after its people to give a consistently good service.
The service is effective at keeping people safe from fire and emergencies, although it should improve the way it protects the public through fire regulation. Positively, it understands the risks its communities face. And it is good at preventing and responding to fires and emergencies.
It provides an efficient service by making good use of its resources. But it should make its services more affordable.
The service should improve how it looks after its people. More specifically, it should do better 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.
We are encouraged by the positive aspects we have identified. We look forward to seeing 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?
Isles of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.
An effective fire and rescue service will identity and assess the full range of foreseeable fire and rescue risks its community faces. It will target its fire prevention and protection activities to those who are at greatest risk from fire. It will make sure businesses comply with fire safety legislation. When the public calls for help, the fire and rescue service should respond promptly with the right skills and equipment to deal with the incident effectively. Isles of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.
The service understands the risks in its community. It uses its own data and data from other organisations to learn about risk. It shares risk knowledge with the local authority. Its staff contribute to the service’s strong local knowledge. Isles of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service commissions services from Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service.
The service is updating its integrated risk management plan (IRMP). The plan focuses on community risk and meets national standards.
There are few incidents on the Isles of Scilly. The service’s paper-based risk information management system is therefore good enough. The service focuses prevention activity on those most at need, with firefighters using local knowledge along with help from other interested parties. However, the process needs to be more robust when receiving referral information.
In the 12 months to 31 March 2018, the service carried out 54 home fire safety checks. The service receives referrals from local agencies which are targeted at the most vulnerable. The service promotes its activities to the public, particularly young people. It does not evaluate its community safety activity.
The service must improve the way it uses fire regulation to protect the public. The service has recently contracted Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service to carry out its statutory protection duties. There is currently no risk-based inspection programme although work is underway to address this. The service should monitor how it implements this arrangement to make sure it complies with its statutory duties.
The service is good at responding to fires and emergencies through its control room which is shared with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. It can support an incident as it becomes more serious. It has an appropriate but informal system for recording staff availability. The work with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service should improve the service’s understanding of national operational guidance. The service relies on its close links with the community to share news. Safeguarding training is patchy, but staff are aware of procedures. The service does debrief after incidents. But, we found formally sharing learning with all staff is not part of routine practice.
How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
Isles of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is good.
The service works with the local authority to manage its finances better. It recently changed its management structure. This helps it work closer with the local authority. The service has saved money by:
- having an agreement with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service;
- using the airport’s fire service; and
- working with other emergency services
The service improves efficiency through finding better ways of working. For example, it can use engines that Cornwall no longer needs.
It saves money by working with others, including Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. It also works with the local authority and the airport fire service to prevent and respond to fires and other risks.
The service needs to make itself more affordable. It recently found out it must pay pensions to retired staff. So, it now needs to save £30,000 of the £490,000 budget. It plans to do this in several ways, but it hasn’t evaluated these plans.
The service doesn’t test business continuity plans.
It plans to improve its efficiency by investing in training equipment, but it hasn’t assessed the funding or benefits of this investment.
How well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?
Overall, Isles of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement at looking after its people.
A fire and rescue service that looks after its people should be able to provide an effective service to its community. It should offer a range of services to make its communities safer. This will include developing and maintaining a workforce that is professional, resilient, skilled, flexible and diverse. The service’s leaders should be positive role models, and this should be reflected in the behaviour of the workforce. Overall, Isles of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement at looking after its people.
The service needs to improve how it promotes the right values and culture. It uses the local authority’s workplace health guidelines. The chief fire officer understands how these policies translate to the fire service. But crews cannot access the policies and other welfare information because of technical problems. The service is addressing this with new computers.
Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service has trained the service’s staff in equality, diversity and inclusivity.
The service tests staff for physical fitness every year. But the chief fire officer was reluctant to enforce too high a standard of fitness in case he lost staff.
Staff have little confidence in the grievance process and do not know how to use it. They find it hard to raise grievances because the service is so closely tied to the community. There were no formal grievances between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2018.
The service’s culture and values are based on the local authority’s code of conduct and whistle-blowing policy.
The service should improve how it ensures fairness and promotes diversity, although it is taking steps to improve the diversity of its workforce.
It acts on staff feedback in some areas, but not others. The service is less diverse than the population it serves, however, it is being more proactive in promoting diversity.
The service must improve how it gets the right people with the right skills.
Once recruited, firefighters complete a training programme. But the service has no training planner. It uses retained firefighter development folders but does not update or review them.
The service does not understand its responsibility to maintain core firefighting functions. We saw outdated guidance in use. The service does not state which procedures it follows.
The service will share Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service’s system for recording competencies. It has also taken on a tactical advisor, and now has a prioritised plan to improve its training. We hope to see that this results in safety-critical improvements by March 2019.
The service must improve the way it manages performance and develops leaders. Its firefighters have very high levels of community responsibility, so, the service assumes they can assure their own training. It pays Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service for a part-time station manager, who, among other things, analyses skills gaps and provides training.