Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service: Cause of concern revisit letter

Published on: 15 March 2024

Letter information

Wendy Williams CBE
His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
His Majesty’s Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services

​​​Ben Brook
​Chief Fire Officer
​Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service​

Sent on
15 March 2024


Between March and April 2023, we inspected Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service. During our inspection, we identified a cause of concern. On 13 September 2023, we issued the cause of concern and made the following recommendations:

Cause of concern

The service hasn’t done enough since its last inspection to determine its highest-risk premises to inform its risk-based inspection programme.


Within 28 days, the service should review its action plan, detailing how it will:

  • develop a protection strategy with a resourced and prioritised risk-based inspection programme;
  • review its risk-based inspection programme to identify its highest-risk premises; and
  • put in place a clear plan with time frames for improving its management of risk information

On 6 October 2023, you submitted an action plan setting out how you would address the areas of concern and our recommendations.

Between 5 and 7 February 2024, we carried out a revisit to review progress against the action plan. During the revisit we interviewed staff who were responsible for developing this plan, including you as chief fire officer. We also interviewed heads of departments, team leaders and specialist fire protection staff. On 23 February 2024, we shared our initial findings with you. This letter provides an update on our findings.


We found appropriate and robust governance arrangements in place to monitor progress of your action plan. Middle managers are assigned responsibility for addressing the cause of concern. They chair a monthly community risk management team meeting which reports to the community risk management delivery group, and a community risk management board which provides oversight at a strategic level.

The service is aware of the risk that still exists within the protection department and this is reflected in the risk register.

Action plan

The service has an action plan that covers the cause of concern. The plan identifies accountable and responsible officers, as well as details of the delivery teams and start and end dates. The plan includes updates on the progress of actions made against the cause of concern and the associated recommendations.

The service has taken a comprehensive approach to the action plan, which contains details of the cause of concern but also other aspects, such as the areas for improvement identified in our previous inspection.

The service has made progress against the plan by using additional resources within the protection team.

It is also on track to introduce its new risk-based inspection programme. Only items such as stress testing and evaluation haven’t started, and will happen once the programme is in place.

The service has experienced a small delay in implementing its new risk management system. But they have appropriate plans in place should this be delayed again. The service would benefit from having a clear training plan in place to support staff using this new risk management system.

Progress against cause of concern

The service should develop a protection strategy with a resourced and prioritised risk-based inspection programme

The service has a protection strategy in place which focuses on six priorities over a five year period from 2022–27. The strategy is linked to the risks it has identified in its community risk management plan. It includes elements linked to the cause of concern such as:

  • identifying, through its risk-based inspection programme, those premises that pose the greatest risk;
  • making sure accurate risk information is available to those that need it; and
  • strengthening its specialist fire protection capacity.

At the time of our revisit, we found that the service had enough capacity and appropriate levels of competent staff to sufficiently resource its future risk-based inspection programme. It will also use operational crews to support some of the low and medium-risk premises identified, which makes sure specialist staff can concentrate on high and very high-risk premises.

As part of the resourcing plan for fire protection, the service has increased its capacity to carry out effective enforcements. More staff have completed their training so they can adequately carry out enforcement and prohibitions. The service has already seen an increase in the number of enforcements.

The service has paused its work with local businesses and other organisations to provide specific fire protection staff to support the introduction of the new risk management system. As a contingency, it has refreshed the content on its website for businesses and partner organisations until it can continue this work.

The service plans to introduce a quality assurance policy that will focus on managers providing feedback to staff following audits at premises. At the time of our revisit, the policy was in draft form.

The service should review its risk-based inspection programme to make sure it identifies its highest-risk premises

At the time of our revisit, we found the service had not yet introduced its refreshed risk-based inspection programme (RBIP). We were told this will be done on 1 April 2024.

A data cleanse process has been a large task for the service. This makes sure there are no duplicate premises on the system and that there is a single source of information available for staff when working from the RBIP and the new system.

As part of the action plan the service has explored local and national approaches to the RBIP and has used guidance from the National Fire Chiefs Council to help shape its future programme. The refreshed RBIP uses national robust datasets, which makes sure the service will be targeting its highest-risk premises.

The new process has identified approximately 366 high and very high-risk premises in the county. Within the current structure there are more than enough resources available to complete audits of the high and very high-risk premises over a two-year period. Specialist fire protection staff will complete audits on the high and very high-risk premises and work will be automatically allocated by a team leader.

The service is continuing the process of training operational crews to support the audits for low and medium-risk premises. At the time of our inspection the service was already seeing more audits being completed.

Staff said they are much more confident that they will be targeting the highest-risk premises when the new process is introduced.

The service should put in place a clear plan with time frames for improving its management of risk information

At the time of our revisit, the service was still using its existing risk management system, Farynor. However, the service told us that it planned to introduce the new risk management system on 26 February 2024.

It will be in place as a minimal system that will support the completion of fire protection audits and make sure that the way information is recorded is consistent across the department. Once the system is in place, the service will then work with the provider to further develop functions that might improve other areas, such as site-specific risk information and prevention activity.

The service demonstrated the new system to us with some test data. We found it to be intuitive and familiar to use, based on Office 365. Relevant information is instantly available to staff on the front screens. The system has a function to link premises to responsible owners, which will be useful when carrying out enforcements to identify if the responsible owners have additional premises. There is also an efficient way to access, complete and store letter templates direct from the dashboard.

The audit template is available on tablets, which will make sure information is recorded live and uploaded directly to the risk management system. This is modelled on the previous paper-based system of audits.

The service has completed some user testing of the system and the new Microsoft Surface Go tablets. However, we found a lack of clarity about the roll out of training for fire protection staff on the new system.


We were pleased to see the significant steps the service had taken in response to our cause of concern. There are sufficient governance processes in place to hold responsible staff accountable to the time frames outlined in the action plan. It is encouraging to see that staff retention is stable within the protection department and this should adequately support a refreshed risk-based inspection programme when it is introduced on 1 April 2024. We are looking forward to seeing the improvements the new risk management system will bring once introduced.

However, there is a lack of clarity about how and when staff will be trained in the new system, which is to be introduced imminently. Should the implementation be delayed for any reason, the service may have to fund an additional period of support from its current provider. We note that the service is determined this won’t happen, and it has assured us that it will put contingency plans in place.

Despite good progress being made, there is still more work to do. While the action plan is comprehensive, we can’t determine how effective it will be until the refreshed risk-based inspection programme and the risk management system are in place and being used.

We will return to Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service in September 2024. We will assess whether the service has made satisfactory progress with its action plan and if the service provided to the public has improved.

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Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service: Cause of concern revisit letter