Tyne and Wear 2018/19Read more about Tyne and Wear
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 pleased with the performance of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) in keeping people safe and secure. But it needs to improve in some areas to give a consistently good service.
We judged that it is an effective service. It is good at:
- understanding the risk of fire and other emergencies;
- protecting the public through fire regulation;
- responding to fires and other emergencies; and
- responding to national risks.
But the service requires improvement to its prevention work.
It provides an efficient service and is good at using its resources. But it requires improvement at providing an affordable service.
Tyne and Wear FRS is good at looking after its people. It is good at promoting the right values and culture and at ensuring fairness and promoting diversity. But it requires improvement at getting the right people with the right skills and at managing performance and developing leaders.
Overall, we commend Tyne and Wear FRS for its performance. This provides a good foundation for improvement 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. Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.
The service understands local and community risk. It has consulted widely on its integrated risk management plan (IRMP) and its priorities. It communicates risk information well to its staff. However, plans we sampled for site-specific inspections lack vital information.
The service protects the public through fire regulation effectively. It manages its inspection programme well and uses its full range of enforcement powers. It carries out joint inspections with other agencies, and is proactive with local businesses to support fire safety awareness and compliance.
The service’s response to fires is good, with one of the fastest response times in the country. Its use of targeted response vehicles (TRVs) is an effective use of resources. However, it needs to make sure it learns well from incidents, and that all commanders are properly trained to lead incidents.
The service is a partner in the local resilience forum (LRF) and routinely tests its response plans.
The service needs to be better at preventing fires. It needs to make sure its safe and well visits target those most at risk. And it needs to better evaluate its prevention work so it fully understands the benefits of this work and whether it is successful.
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. Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is good.
Tyne and Wear FRS is good at making the best of its resources. But it needs to improve how it makes itself affordable, both now and in the future. Crucially, the service needs to have financial plans approved by the fire authority to meet anticipated budget shortfalls over the next three years. It also needs to evaluate the changes it intends to make about how it is organised.
The service has a good track record in reducing spending. Its medium-term plans are based on prudent assumptions, but it now needs to plan to meet future budget cuts.
The service has already made difficult decisions about its workforce. Since 2010, the service has reduced its full time equivalent (FTE) total firefighters by 31 percent and support staff (FTE) by 38 percent.
Despite these large reductions, the service remains productive, although the service would benefit from performance management and quality assurance in some areas.
The service intends to pursue opportunities for further collaboration. It has already co-located with the police service at some fire stations. The service also has business continuity plans in place. While it reviews these plans, it also needs to test them.
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, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is good at looking after its people.
The service takes staff wellbeing seriously and works hard to promote a positive culture. It also takes a positive approach to promoting equality and diversity. Its health provision is good, and the work of its trauma support team is highly regarded. Staff are trained in health and safety.
Most staff praise the service’s culture, leadership and values. Staff are also aware of the Leadership Bond, an initiative that defines the leadership’s nine core behaviours. Communications with senior officers are good.
We found that staff were able to move roles within the service. This broadens their career opportunities and diversifies the workforce.
We recognise the investment the service has made in its training provision. Most staff feel they have had the right training for their roles. The service responds to staff feedback. It also manages grievances well. The service is committed to increasing staff diversity and staff groups feel supported. That said, we found the service needs to address the following problems:
- It needs to carry out positive action in a more effective way.
- It has no system for identifying and supporting high-potential and aspiring leaders.
- Its appraisal process is considered to be unsuitable.
- Its promotion process needs to be clearer so that staff have confidence in it.