We set out our priorities and objectives in ‘The Plan’. It’s a rolling, three-year document which covers things like reducing serious traffic accidents, helping people have safer, healthier lives and making sure we tackle emergencies safely and effectively.

We identify and analyse risks across the West Midlands, and use the information to come up with our Community Safety Strategy (also known as our Integrated Risk Management Plan or IRMP).

Your postcode is key to a wealth of info about our work in your area. Our interactive Community Safety Strategy includes maps and stats about incidents, and you can find out how we’re managing risk across the West Midlands.

902
Area (sqkm)
3177
People (sqkm)
1125675
Homes
97000
Non-Domestic
2864900
Population
19
Asian/Asian British
6
Black/Black British
70
White
4
Mixed Origin
1
Other

Knowing where the risks are, we can decide where we need our fire stations, firefighters and vehicles. It also helps us plan how we deliver our full range of services which we split into prevention, protection and response.

Lots of people are really surprised by the variety of our work, which is reflected in our vision statement: ‘Making the West Midlands Safer, Stronger and Healthier’.

We are the second largest fire and rescue service in the country, serving 2.8 million residents across seven local authority areas (Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils).

The West Midlands has a diverse and multi-cultural population, spread across 902 square kilometres. It includes areas with the highest risk in England outside of London, presenting a range of socio-economic and health and wellbeing challenges.

Welcome from the Chief Fire Officer and Chair of the Fire Authority

A welcome from Phil Loach, our Chief Fire Officer, and Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority. Thank you for visiting these pages about our strategic plan and our vision of ‘Making the West Midlands safer, stronger and healthier’.

We hope you get a real insight into how our work delivers the priorities and outcomes set by the people of the West Midlands through their Fire Authority.

Every day we are making a very real and positive difference – to people and families in our communities, to businesses and to visitors to the West Midlands.

A lot of this relies on us working closely with a wide range of other agencies and organisations, including councils and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Our staff play a major part in helping people live safer, healthier lives and supporting the West Midlands economy. They do it at a time of unprecedented change and significant financial challenges.

Our Government funding reduced by £37m between 2010/11 and 2018/19. It will be cut by a further £1m in 2019/20. However, we have responsible plans in place to manage this reduction and to minimise any potential impact on the public.

Our community consultation and engagement has shown, very clearly, that our residents understand and overwhelmingly support how we do things, including how we monitor and manage risks across the West Midlands. This feedback helps to set our priorities and what we will achieve going forward.

So, how do we plan our response, prevention and protection activities to keep the communities of the West Midlands safe?

Our Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) provides the evidence base to identify the priorities and objectives set out in our strategic plan and the forecasting of future risk to determine where our staff and response vehicles are best placed.

We continually review our IRMP to make sure we are meeting the changing needs of our communities and ensure that our staff have the right skills to enable them to respond to emergencies and carry out the wide range of activities needed to reduce risk and vulnerability.

By using evidence and looking at the future risk in the West Midlands, we make sure our staff and resources are positively reducing risk and vulnerability where it is needed most and when needed, respond assertively, effectively and safely.

RESPONSE

2017 saw two significant terrorism attacks in London, one in Manchester and the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire.

We have an excellent track record in identifying and reducing ever-changing risks and working collaboratively with other agencies in increasing public safety.

The professionalism and dedication of our own crews to respond assertively, effectively and safely, coupled with our 5-minute attendance standard, is at the heart of our Service Delivery Model. We have reduced our response times significantly over the last five years and we are continually looking at ways to improve.

Our risk-based, five-minute response is one of the best in the country. We’ve worked with academics and medical experts on research that shows the time it takes to get to an incident is critical to someone surviving a fire or a road traffic collision.

So we know that our 5-minute response, based on evidence and our knowledge of risk, saves lives, homes and businesses. It also helps us to plan where we need our people and resources, including our fire stations, engines and more specialist resources.

In turn, this gives us the capacity to deliver our equally important and collaborative prevention and protection services. This approach is efficient, effective and recognised by our communities as being in their interest.

PREVENTION

Our prevention work focuses on reducing people’s vulnerability to the type of emergencies to which we respond. We use sophisticated analysis through our IRMP to forecast what will make a difference to a wide range of public service objectives and to support economic growth.

Our firefighters carry out thousands of ‘Safe and Well’ visits every year, and our crews now also give advice on health and wellbeing, where it will reduce the risk of a fire. This means vulnerable people are safer in their own homes and we can get them extra help if they need it.

Thanks to our strong relationship and collaborative partnerships with our colleagues in other sectors, such as the health sector, we can identify and support people who are at higher risk from fires and other emergencies.

We are working closely with a number of councils on projects that see our firefighters responding to people who have had a fall at home and others on whose safety we check as they leave hospital.

But our prevention work extends well beyond the home. We provide fire safety education in hundreds of schools and colleges and at our interactive ‘Safeside’ learning centres in Handsworth and Eastside, as well as at public events and through our popular Fire Cadets programme.

We also have specialist prevention and partnership teams who support our firefighters in reducing anti-social behaviour, including arson, and improving road safety.

If you would like to see what our activities are in your area, then please visit our interactive Community Safety Strategy.

PROTECTION

Our protection work focuses on working with businesses to help them thrive, and on assessing high risk buildings including residential high-rises to ensure public safety and provide reassurance about the risks of fire. Healthy businesses who are able to sustain themselves benefit the West Midlands’ economy and provide local job opportunities.

Where appropriate we advise companies how best to comply with fire safety legislation, to keep staff and customers safe.

If the worst does happen, and they do experience a fire, our focus is on getting them back up and running as soon as possible. We’re a large organisation ourselves and know the importance of business continuity.

HOW WE DO IT AND HOW WE’RE GOVERNED

We recognise the need for change and continuous improvement and have developed a new and innovative approach to how we work.

This has been made possible by our cost-effective, flexible and agile workforce, a blended fleet of vehicles, a new approach to communication and a commitment to the use of technology.

We want West Midlands Fire Service to be governed in a way that enables it to keep delivering services in the most relevant, efficient and effective ways for its communities.

Our governance is on track to move from the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority and to be incorporated into the Mayoral West Midlands Combined Authority.

We are already coordinating an important area of the Combined Authority’s work. The Public Sector Reform (PSR) programme is about improving the life chances of West Midlands people. It continues to do this through four key work streams: Mental Health with Health and Wellbeing; Criminal Justice; Skills and Employment; Multiple Complex Needs.

Here at West Midlands Fire Service we have committed resources to the work stream that supports people living with multiple complex needs.  Our prevention work focuses on vulnerable people, on what makes them vulnerable and how we can help them to live safe, independent and fulfilled lives.

And we are embracing wider opportunities for collaboration with other fire and rescue services and organisations. One example of this was our signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in early 2018 with Warwickshire County Council. The arrangement sets out a vision for closer working between our two fire services to deliver improved outcomes to our communities and enhance public safety.

Everything we do is achieved by our dedicated staff, who keep finding exciting, new ways to keep delivering and transforming the services we provide, and to achieve even more with less. Individually, and in teams, their positive contributions are making the West Midlands safer, stronger and healthier.

Thank you for visiting our website. Please click, explore and encourage your friends and family to take a look, too.

We hope we get the chance to meet you and hear your valuable feedback at one of our open days, when we’re out and about doing our prevention work, or simply by dropping in at one of our 38 community fire stations.

National fire chiefs council

As part of our commitment to the national fire agenda, we now host and support the newly-formed National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).

The professional voice of UK fire and rescue services, the NFCC is headed by a national Chair who also acts as adviser on fire-related issues to the Home Office and wider government and represents the wider fire sector. Our own Chief Fire Officer, Phil Loach, is one of NFCC’s Vice-Chairs. He has a key role in delivering influential, national work.

As well as hosting the NFCC at our HQ, we support its workstreams undertaken by nine coordination committees on prevention, protection, operations and health.

In 2017, as part of our national commitment, we set up and ran a 24/7 incident room following the devastating Grenfell Tower fire in London which claimed 71 lives. We were responsible for providing the Government with up-to-date information and statistics about high-rises from all fire services, including the number in each area, how many were inspected in the days following Grenfell and other information required for the Government’s emergency daily meetings.

This information – along with new requests – is still being collected to ensure the Government has the very latest national picture in relation to high-rise safety and cladding. This has helped to ensure NFCC is at the forefront of providing information to Government, while assisting all fire and rescue services across the country at a very difficult time. This continuing work supports the independent inquiries currently underway, including the review into building regulations and the expert panel set up in the wake of Grenfell to look at building safety.

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