West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) has been graded as ‘Good’ in a report published today (20 June) by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
This is the first report completed by HMICFRS into WMFS since the inspection programme recommenced in 2018 after a break of several years, during which time WMFS has seen significant government funding reductions.
Overall the inspectorate has commented that they are ‘very pleased with the performance of West Midlands Fire Service in keeping people safe and secure, and in particular with its effectiveness’.
This has been made possible through the commitment of our staff in supporting the organisation to evolve so as to maintain or improve vital services to the community. We hope that people across the West Midlands take confidence from the way in which we respond to incidents and reduce risk and vulnerability within the community. WMFS is the only fire and rescue service, out of 30 assessed in two rounds of inspections to date, to receive the top ‘outstanding’ rating for its emergency response work.
Our response work contributes to our overall rating of ‘good’ for effectiveness, efficiency and how well we look after our staff.
Phil Loach, our Chief Fire Officer, said: “We know, from our previous consultations, that the public expect and value a gold standard emergency response service. I’m delighted by the report’s recognition of the hard work, dedication and professionalism of staff in providing exactly that.
“We get to our most life-threatening emergencies in an average of 4 minutes and 43 seconds. This is made possible by our Service Delivery Model, which enables us to deliver assertive, effective and safe emergency response.”
The report adds that WMFS “has developed a comprehensive understanding of risk” which helps us plan the use of our resources effectively to deliver response, prevention and protection services.
CFO Loach added “Because we understand risk and how to manage it through prevention and protection activities, we can use our different shift systems and different vehicles with differently sized crews to be in the community working to reduce risk and vulnerability. This work is done by the same frontline firefighters who respond to 999 calls and is targeted at the West Midlands’ most vulnerable people and premises.
“We welcome the report from HMICFRS and our staff and communities should be reassured that there are many areas for celebration. As an organisation we are always looking for ways to improve and there are areas within the report which recommend areas for focus. We will use the information in the report as part of the evidence to support ongoing development. As an organisation we aim to continue to deliver a first-class service to make our communities safer, stronger and healthier.”
Cllr John Edwards, Chair of the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority commented: “I’m very pleased with the outcome of this national inspection. Across the measures of effectiveness, efficiency and people West Midlands Fire Service has been found to have an overall grading of ‘good’, and on the vital issue of responding to incidents we have been ranked as ‘outstanding’.
“Our average response time to life-threatening incidents is validated at 4 minutes 43 seconds, probably the fastest in the UK.
“Given the unprecedented level of government funding reductions totalling £38 million since 2011 this performance is remarkable. My thanks go to every member of staff at WMFS who have contributed to this achievement. It underlines the success of the strategy that has been implemented over many years.”
To read our full report and press release from HMICFRS, please click here.