North Yorkshire 2021/22Read more about North Yorkshire
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 requires improvement.
The extent to which the service is efficient at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks is inadequate.
The extent to which the service looks after its people is inadequate.
Roy Wilsher, HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services
HM Inspector's summary
I have concerns about the performance of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and its ability to respond to fires and other risks. I have serious concerns about how sustainable its financial plans are for managing the risk of fire and other risks in an affordable way, and how effective the service is in carrying out workforce planning to make sure it has the skills and capabilities it needs. In view of these findings, we have been in regular contact with the newly appointed chief fire officer as much improvement is needed.
The effectiveness of the service requires improvement in the way it:
- understands the risk of fire and other emergencies;
- protects the public through fire regulation; and
- responds to fires and other emergencies.
It is good at:
- preventing fires and other risks; and
- responding to major and multi-agency incidents.
The efficiency of the service – that is, how it uses it resources – was found to be inadequate. This is due to the fragility of its budget. It needs to make sure collaboration activities, such as those with police, provide value for money and don’t negatively affect the service. It also needs to improve how it makes its services affordable now and in the future.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was found to be inadequate in the way it looks after its people. The service needs to improve how it:
- promotes the right values and culture;
- ensures fairness and promoting diversity; and
- manages performance and developing leaders.
I have concerns about the service’s ability to get the right people with the right skills. This is due to a lack of robust workforce planning. It should make sure effective processes are in place to support succession and training planning, staff absence and work-time management.
We would like to see improvements in the next 12 months and will be revisiting the service to monitor its progress.
How effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure?
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness requires improvement.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was good in its 2018/19 assessment
The integrated risk management plan (IRMP) is the same as that in place during our first inspection. In that inspection, we found the service’s use of data was limited, meaning it hadn’t fully assessed the risks it faced. The service hasn’t yet updated the IRMP, and it hasn’t made an action plan showing its progress as outlined in the IRMP. At the time of this inspection, the service was consulting with the public on a new IRMP. And in March 2022 it published a new community risk profile (CRP). We look forward to understanding how successful the new IRMP and CRP are in addressing identified risks.
We found that the service has improved how it prevents fires and other risks. At the time of our inspection a pilot of public safety officers (PSOs) was underway in North Yorkshire. PSOs carry out prevention activities with vulnerable members of the community on behalf of the fire and rescue service, police, and health partners. This helps reduce vulnerability by promoting fire safety and health and well-being. We are encouraged to see some progress has been made in ensuring protection resources are in place. But the service needs to better understand staff perception of the changes. It also needs to ensure that its risk-based inspection programme (RBIP) includes proportionate activity to reduce risk. And the service needs to improve out-of-hours arrangements for fire safety resources.
When assessing the service’s response to emergency incidents, we found it doesn’t have the minimum number of fire engines it needs available at all times of the day. We also found evidence of operational staff not having the right skills and/or having to carry out dual roles, such as that of driver and officer in charge.
How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure?
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency is inadequate.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service required improvement in its 2018/19 assessment.
For its overall efficiency, we have graded the service as inadequate. This is a deterioration from the requires improvement grade awarded in the 2019 inspection.
During this inspection we found that the service’s financial position is precarious. We also found that financial plans aren’t fully linked to the requirements set out in the service’s integrated risk management plan (IRMP) and there is no workforce plan. The service doesn’t always have the minimum number of fire engines it needs or staff with the required skills and capability. It is also lacking a comprehensive fleet strategy or plan.
Enable North Yorkshire is a collaboration with North Yorkshire Police and the PFCC. We found that the transition of services involved in this arrangement has been problematic. There is little evidence of the fire service carrying out robust planning before it was implemented. The service needs to improve the way it manages and reviews performance, so it can make sure the arrangement is meeting its needs. Relationships, processes, and systems need to be much stronger to support a truly collaborative way of working.
We recognise that the service has made some efficiencies in recent years, but opportunities for future savings or to generate further income are limited. We are concerned that any unexpected costs could affect reinvestment plans associated with the new risk and resource model (RRM).
How well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is inadequate at looking after its people.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service required improvement in its 2018/19 assessment
We are pleased to find that the service has introduced a new set of values since our 2019 inspection. But staff told us it doesn’t always give them the support they need, and senior leaders don’t always act as positive role models.
The service has effective and well understood health and safety policies and procedures in place. But it is lacking a robust process to manage sickness absence and monitor the working hours of its staff to make sure they aren’t excessive.
We are concerned to find that the service doesn’t have effective workforce planning in place to make sure it has the skills and capabilities it needs. It has yet to fully establish succession planning and talent management processes across the organisation. This would help it know what its needs will be in the future. The service’s understanding of its future training requirements is limited, and we also found the service employs too many staff in temporary roles. Any plans the service makes to address these issues should include all staff groups.
We conducted a staff survey and spoke to staff during our inspection. We found the service needs to improve how it seeks and acts on staff feedback. It should also review how effective its policy on bullying, harassment and discrimination is in reducing unacceptable behaviour towards its staff.
We found the service has made some progress since our 2019 inspection in its approach to EDI. It has developed an EDI strategy and introduced an EDI board. It has also improved its arrangements for female staff uniform. Although it has made some progress in making sure there are sufficient facilities to support the diverse nature of the workforce in all buildings, it recognises that more is needed. But the service should introduce a policy and process to make sure it carries out equality impact assessments for all its policies, services and processes.