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South Yorkshire 2021/22

Read more about South 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 requires improvement.

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 South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, and I am grateful for the positive and constructive way that the service engaged with our inspection.

I am satisfied with some aspects of the performance of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service in keeping people safe and secure from fires and other risks, but the service needs to improve performance in some areas as these have deteriorated since our 2019 inspection.

My principal findings from our assessments of the service over the past year are as follows.

The service is good at identifying risks in its communities and puts appropriate measures in place to mitigate those risks. It is good at identifying those people in its communities who are most at risk from fire and working with its partner organisations to good effect to reduce this risk.

The service displays some sound financial management. And its medium-term financial plan takes a prudent approach to government funding. But the service still needs to improve its use of resources. It is financially secure but could do more to plan for future financial challenges.

The service has introduced new response standards for attending emergencies. But we were disappointed to see that it hasn’t made the progress we expected in addressing the other areas for improvement concerning response in our 2019 inspection. And the service’s risk-based audit programme (RBAP) is not effectively prioritising high-risk premises.

Values are well established in the service, and it is good at promoting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). But improvements are required to make sure staff have access to services to support both their mental and physical health.

Overall, while there are some good aspects to the performance of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, there are several areas where performance has declined since the 2019 inspection, and I expect to see progress made against these. We will continue to monitor progress through our usual monitoring arrangements.

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 20/01/2023
Requires improvement

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall effectiveness requires improvement.

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

We found the service is good at identifying and assessing the fire and rescue-related risks to its communities. It has used a range of information, and consulted widely, to produce a comprehensive community risk management plan (CRMP). The information in the plan has helped the service to review its response standards to better serve its communities.

We also found the service to be good at how it identifies those people in its communities who are most at risk from fire and works with its partners to good effect to reduce this risk. But the number of home fire safety checks (HFSCs) it carried out during the pandemic decreased, and it still has many HFSCs identified and awaiting a visit.

We were disappointed to find that the service’s risk-based audit programme (RBAP) is not effectively targeting high-risk premises and that it is not carrying out enough audits compared to its own annual target. But since our 2019 inspection it has improved its arrangements in tackling false alarms.

We were also disappointed to see that the service had made limited progress since our 2019 inspection in introducing national operational guidance and obtaining operational learning. But we did find that the service is well prepared to respond to major and multi-agency incidents.

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
Requires improvement

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s overall efficiency requires improvement.

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

The service’s efficiency has deteriorated in some areas and so has not improved as we would have expected since our 2019 inspection.

We found that the service does not demonstrate a clear rationale, linked to the comprehensive community risk management plan (CRMP), for the resources allocated between prevention, protection and response activities. And it doesn’t always exploit the opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness that are presented by changes in fleet and estate provision.

However, we are pleased to find that the service’s financial planning, financial systems and audit arrangements are all satisfactory. And it collaborates well with the police in the joint delivery of community safety activity.

Since the 2019 inspection the service has improved its medium-term financial planning to consider future budgetary pressures.

But we were disappointed to find that the service isn’t using its workforce in the most productive way. The service’s response model relies on the use of overtime. At the time of our inspection, a high level of vacancies was affecting resource availability.

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

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

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

The service has a clear set of values that are understood throughout the service. But we found that there are inconsistencies in the way the service looks after people through its occupational health provision and absence management processes.

Since our 2019 inspection the service has improved the recording of staff training and is ensuring staff keep their skills up to date. However, it has made limited progress to make sure that its workforce plan takes full account of the necessary skills and capabilities to carry out the community risk management plan (CRMP).

The service has made improvements to EDI. But it hasn’t made the workforce more representative of the community it serves.

We did find the service to be good at how it manages individual performance, although it does have high numbers of staff in temporary promotion positions. Furthermore, it hasn’t put in place an open and fair process to identify, develop and support high-potential staff and aspiring leaders.

View the four questions for people

Key facts – 2020/2021

Service Area

599 square miles

Population

1.42m people
up3% local 5 yr change

Workforce

89% wholetime firefighters
11% on-call firefighters
0.43 per 1000 population local
0.56 national level
down1% local 5 yr change
down5% national 5 yr change

Assets

21 stations
27 fire engines

Incidents

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

Cost

£22.00 firefighter cost per person per year
£25.22 firefighter cost per person per year (national)

Judgment criteria