Skip to content

Merseyside 2018/19

Read more about Merseyside

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.

Phil Gormley, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services


HM Inspector's summary

We are very pleased with the performance of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service in keeping people safe and secure, and in particular with its effectiveness.

We found it to be outstanding at:

  • preventing fires and other risks; and
  • responding to national risks.

Merseyside FRS is good at:

  • understanding the risk of fire and other emergencies;
  • protecting the public through fire regulation; and
  • responding to fires and other emergencies.

It is good at providing an efficient service. And it is good at using resources and at making the service affordable now and in future.

The service is good at looking after its people. We judge it to be good at:

  • promoting the right values and culture;
  • getting the right people with the right skills; and
  • managing performance and developing leaders.

But we judge that it requires improvement at ensuring fairness and promoting diversity.

Overall, we commend Merseyside 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?

Last updated 20/06/2019

An effective fire and rescue service will identify 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. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.

It understands the risks in its local community. It tells the public about these risks and involves them when making its plans. It uses a range of information to help with this. The service has a response standard of attending the scene of life at risk incidents within ten minutes. Its target is to meet this standard on 90 percent of occasions. Between 1 April and 31 December 2018, it exceeded this target (92.3 percent). Firefighters can access and use relevant information about risk.

The service’s work to prevent fires and other risks is very good. According to service data, fire deaths in Merseyside are at their lowest level since records have been kept. The service directs its prevention activity at the areas that most need it. It works with other organisations to prevent risk through different activities. The service involves its firefighters in prevention activity. It is an active member of the local road safety partnership. It also works with other groups to improve road safety.

The service has a new risk-based inspection programme. It has restructured its protection department. But it needs to make sure it has sufficient staff. It works with businesses to help them maintain standards. It takes enforcement action where necessary. 

The service properly trains and equips its firefighters. It has adapted its staffing arrangements to help match demand. It has good systems in place to help staff learn lessons from incidents. It shares learning locally and nationally. But it needs to make sure the command competencies for supervisors are up to date. The joint emergency services control centre is good practice.

The service is a leading member of the local resilience forum. It can get help from other services for major incidents if necessary. It can also send resources to help others. It takes responsibility for managing how services do this nationally.

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 20/06/2019

An efficient fire and rescue service will manage its budget and spend money properly and appropriately. It will align its resources to its risk. It should try to keep costs down without compromising public safety. Future budgets should be based on robust and realistic assumptions. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is good.

The service is good at managing its budget. It has made significant savings over the past seven years. It is good at linking the actions it is taking with the risk it has identified. This means it can achieve its aims. It has a good plan for using its reserve money to help with some of the financial difficulties. The service has changed all its shift patterns to help firefighters be more productive. It works well with the other emergency services.

The service is on target to deliver the savings it has shown in its plans. The number of firefighters, support staff, fire engines and fire stations will reduce without negatively affecting the public. It makes sure it gets good value for money from a range of contracts. It also looks to the future to prepare for potential problems. The varied shift patterns will help it provide the cover it needs to keep the public safe. The service is investing in technology to increase efficiency and minimise paper-based systems.

View the two questions for efficiency


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

Last updated 20/06/2019

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, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service is good at looking after its people.

The service is making excellent provision for the wellbeing of its staff. It has a positive health and safety culture supported by all staff. The service needs to make sure that the whole workforce fully understands and embraces its behavioural values.

The service has a good understanding of its workforce’s skills and abilities and an impressive training and recording programme in place for operational staff. It needs to make sure it has good systems in place to record the skills and training of its middle managers and control room staff. The service plans to assess its incident commanders every two years to make sure they are competent to command. It is not up to date with this programme. It has listened to the views of staff and reintroduced the crew manager role.

The service isn’t fully representative of the community it serves. Staff from under-represented groups, and those with protected characteristics, do not believe the service is an employer of choice for many people. The service needs to improve this situation. Grievance processes are fair and open. We saw good examples of the service listening to staff and members of the public and making changes.

There is no system in place to identify, develop and fast-track high-potential staff. The service needs to address this. It has a good culture of managing performance across the organisation. Staff don’t always view the promotion process as open and fair. However, we found no evidence to support this view.

View the four questions for people

Key facts – 2020/2021

Service Area

252 square miles


1.43m people
up2% local 5 yr change


86% wholetime firefighters
14% on-call firefighters
0.51 per 1000 population local
0.56 national level
local 5 yr change
down5% national 5 yr change


22 stations
31 fire engines


4.3 fire incidents per 1000 population local
2.7 national
3.0 non-fire incidents per 1000 population local
2.7 national
3.8 fire false alarms per 1000 population local
3.8 national


£25.81 firefighter cost per person per year
£25.22 firefighter cost per person per year (national)

Judgment criteria