Nottinghamshire 2018/19Read more about Nottinghamshire
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 requires improvement.
The extent to which the service is efficient at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks requires improvement.
The extent to which the service looks after its people requires improvement.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services
HM Inspector's summary
We are satisfied with some aspects of the performance of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (FRS). But there are several areas where the service needs to make improvements.
The service requires improvement to its effectiveness. It requires improvement to the way it:
- understands the risk of fire and other emergencies;
- prevents fires and other risks; and
- responds to fires and other emergencies.
But the service is good at protecting the public through fire regulation and at responding to national risk.
The service requires improvement to its efficiency, to how it uses resources and at providing an affordable service.
It requires improvement to how it looks after its people. And we judge it to require improvement 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 would like to see improvements in the year ahead.
How effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
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. Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness requires improvement.
Nottinghamshire FRS should improve its understanding of the risk of fire and other emergencies. The service maintains a good understanding of local risks by analysing data and information. But the service doesn’t use its integrated risk management plan (IRMP) to direct its activities enough, and the actions in this plan aren’t easy for the public to understand.
The service should improve its prevention of fires and other risks. It has no clear fire prevention strategy but does carry out prevention work such as advising households how to prevent fires. The service doesn’t monitor its performance at preventing fires, so doesn’t know what impact it has on community safety. Nor does it promote road safety effectively. More positively, we were impressed by its work with people who show fire-setting behaviour.
Nottinghamshire FRS is good at protecting the public through fire regulation. The service directs its fire safety enforcement work using a nationally recognised strategy. It prioritises this work based on its understanding of risk. The service works with businesses to make sure they comply with fire safety regulations and takes further action if needed. It also works with other organisations to enforce these rules.
The service should improve its response to fires and other emergencies. It knows it doesn’t have enough on-call fire engines available and is addressing this. It shares information with the public in various ways. Control room operators confidently give lifesaving information to callers. Staff can identify vulnerable people and refer them for safeguarding.
The service responds well to national risks. It holds several national resilience assets and can maintain Nottinghamshire’s fire cover if other services are using these assets. The service’s arrangements for working with other services are effective, as its response to a recent railway station fire showed. However, the service knows it needs to carry out more cross-border exercises.
How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
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. Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency requires improvement.
Nottinghamshire FRS requires improvement at using its resources. It lacks targets and performance reporting, so doesn’t know if it is meeting its objectives. It also doesn’t know how productive it is, or how good or bad its service is.
The service knows it doesn’t always align resources to the risks identified in its integrated risk management plan (IRMP). It doesn’t manage performance against this plan, so can’t assure itself it is meeting its priorities.
The service has saved £2m since 2016. But it doesn’t invest these savings in improvements. Instead, it mainly uses them to meet budget shortfalls.
The service works with other organisations to reduce costs. It has some continuity plans, so it can still provide fire cover if something goes wrong. But it doesn’t test these plans. Nottinghamshire FRS should improve its affordability, now and in the future. The service doesn’t use its financial reserves sustainably or save for future investment. So, it may find it difficult to invest to improve efficiency. The service’s trading arm supplies fire safety equipment, maintenance and training. It expects an income of £15,000 a year from this.
The service understands the financial risks it faces. It set out potential savings in its sustainability strategy and is making some of these savings.
The service has strategies for its capital spending but should monitor these, so it knows if it is benefiting from them. It has tried new methods to meet its financial targets but should check these to make sure they are effective.
The service has an information communication technology (ICT) strategy and invests in this area, but staff told us ICT systems were inefficient. The service should find out how it can invest in ICT to improve efficiency.
How well does the fire and rescue service look 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, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement at looking after its people.
Nottinghamshire FRS effectively promotes its values and culture. Staff are positive about the way the service looks after their safety and wellbeing. But the service doesn’t monitor the hours worked by staff on dual contracts. It should also check that staff have enough rest, so they are safe to work. The service promotes its values to improve behaviour. But some staff reported behaviour not in line with service values.
The service knows what problems it faces to keep its workforce up to capacity. But its workforce plan doesn’t align with the objectives of its integrated risk management plan (IRMP). And while the service learns from incidents, this information doesn’t always inform training. It could also do more to use learning from complaints to improve its service.
The service requires improvement at ensuring fairness and promoting diversity. It gets feedback from staff, and acts on it. Representative bodies are satisfied with their relationships with service leaders. Staff are confident about raising grievances, and the service monitors formal and informal grievances so it can spot trends. It has a programme of positive action to promote diversity. But the service should improve how it educates staff about positive action, as some staff who we spoke to failed to understand the benefits of positive action.
The service should improve how it manages performance and develops leaders. Some staff are on long-term temporary promotions, which has caused uncertainty. The service doesn’t do enough to manage individuals’ performance. It gives staff performance and development targets but doesn’t link them to service-wide objectives. Staff feel they don’t have clear enough performance targets. The service has limited processes to develop high-potential staff towards senior leadership roles. For instance, its aspiring leaders programme is aimed only at non-managers who want to become managers.