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Kent 2021/22

Read more about Kent

This is HMICFRS’s third 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 outstanding.

The extent to which the service looks after its people is good.

Roy Wilsher

Roy Wilsher, HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services

HM Inspector's summary

It was a pleasure to revisit Kent Fire and Rescue Service, and I am grateful for the positive and constructive way that the service engaged with our inspection.

I congratulate Kent Fire and Rescue Service on its excellent performance in keeping people safe and secure from fires and other risks. We have judged the service to be outstanding in four areas and good in all the others. There are many positives to report.

I am pleased how the service has progressed since our last inspection, including addressing seven of the eight areas for improvement that we had identified.

My principal findings from our assessments of the service in the last year are as follows:

  • The service has a thorough understanding of the risks it faces.
  • It has set clear priorities for the use of its resources, and it has well-structured risk‑based plans.
  • The service has introduced a range of measures to ensure that its workforce is productive.
  • Senior leaders have a clear vision for the service’s culture, and lead by example.

Also of note are the innovative practices that we have found:

  • The service has developed a process to gather and use risk information in a timely and effective way.
  • The presentation, clarity, and purpose of the service’s plans is excellent.

And the promising practices we have identified:

  • The service makes excellent use of its procurement arrangements.
  • The national Core Code of Ethics has been used to support a positive culture.
  • The service has introduced a neurodiversity passport to reduce the burden on individuals who need reasonable adjustments.

The service has assessed an appropriate range of risks and threats after a thorough risk management planning process. When assessing risk, it has considered relevant information collected from a broad range of internal and external sources.

It has set clear priorities for the use of its resources, and it has well-structured plans. It knows what it wants to achieve based on a thorough understanding of risk. The service has explained its objectives and priorities clearly in a set of well-presented strategies which are fully aligned with its customer safety plan.

We are pleased to see that the service’s arrangements for managing performance clearly link resource use to its customer safety plan and strategic priorities. The service continues to take steps to make sure the workforce is as productive as possible. This includes implementing new ways of working.

Senior leaders have a clear vision for the culture of the service, and staff described a working environment with positive behaviours firmly in place, that are accepted, demonstrated and understood throughout the organisation.

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 20/01/2023
Good

Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness is good.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment

We are pleased to see the progress the service has made in being effective at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks.

We found that the service has a thorough understanding of the risks it faces. It has assessed an appropriate range of risks and threats after a thorough risk management planning process. This is presented in a ten-year customer safety plan. There is a clear risk profile, and the data is reviewed and evaluated annually. When assessing risk, it has considered relevant information collected from a broad range of internal and external sources and data sets. The service has been innovative by developing a process to gather and use risk information in a timely and effective way.

The service’s prevention and protection strategies are clearly linked to the risks identified in its risk management process. Prevention activity is clearly prioritised using a risk-based approach towards people most at risk from fire and other emergencies.

The service works well with a wide range of other organisations such as other emergency services, road safety partnerships and various community groups to prevent fires and other emergencies. We found good evidence that it routinely refers people at greatest risk to other organisations which may be better able to meet their needs.

The service’s response strategy is linked to the risks identified in its integrated risk management plan (IRMP). It consistently meets its own response standards.

View the five questions for effectiveness

Efficiency

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

Last updated 20/01/2023
Outstanding

Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is outstanding.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment.

We are pleased to find that the service is outstanding in the way that it uses its resources and manages its budgets to provide an efficient fire and rescue service for the public.

The service has set clear priorities for the use of its resources, and it has well‑structured risk-based plans. It knows what it wants to achieve based on a thorough understanding of risk. The service has explained its objectives and priorities very clearly in a set of well-presented strategies which are fully aligned with its customer safety plan. The service adapts well to change and has a range of measures to make sure that its workforce is productive.

The service has robust plans to address financial challenges. It has used a wide range of information to develop a sound understanding of future financial challenges, including for funding, cost pressures and budget management. It has detailed plans to mitigate its major financial risks.

Since our last inspection in 2019 the service has improved how it monitors, reviews and evaluates the benefits and outcomes of its collaborations. We were particularly pleased to see the efforts that the service has made to make savings, collaborating well with others, and how it contributes nationally through its lead role with the National Procurement Hub.

View the two questions for efficiency

People

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

Last updated 20/01/2023
Good

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

Kent Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment

We are pleased to see the improvements the service has continued to make in looking after its people.

We found that the service is outstanding at promoting the right values and culture. Senior leaders embody a positive vision for the culture of the service, and staff described a working environment with positive behaviours firmly in place, that are accepted, demonstrated and understood throughout the organisation. We found good practice in how it has used and incorporated the national Core Code of Ethics.

Mental and physical health and well-being is a priority. The service has a range of measures to support staff. It makes good use of a defusing tracker as a tool to determine where additional support might be needed.

The service now has a system to record and monitor operational staff competence which is accurate and accessible. And all staff have access to a range of learning and development opportunities.

The service has put considerable effort into developing its recruitment processes so that they are fair and understood by potential applicants. It makes good use of PIAs to understand equality issues and take appropriate actions to address them.

View the four questions for people

Key facts – 2020/2021

Service Area

1,444 square miles

Population

1.87m people
up4% local 5 yr change

Workforce

78% wholetime firefighters
22% on-call firefighters
0.46 per 1000 population local
0.56 national level
down15% local 5 yr change
down5% national 5 yr change

Assets

57 stations
75 fire engines

Incidents

2.4 fire incidents per 1000 population local
2.7 national
4.5 non-fire incidents per 1000 population local
2.7 national
2.6 fire false alarms per 1000 population local
3.8 national

Cost

£22.18 firefighter cost per person per year
£25.22 firefighter cost per person per year (national)

Judgment criteria