Welcome to Our Plan.
On these pages, we share our priorities which support our vision of ‘Making the West Midlands safer, stronger and healthier’.
Everything we do is connected to our vision. Our highly-trained staff aim to deliver the best fire, rescue, and risk reduction services - an aim which has our communities at heart, helping them to stay safe and thrive.
We continue to build upon the outcomes of our public consultation held in 2020. In 2022/23 we continued to take great strides in developing our Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP), exploring how we can deliver our services in the best possible way and maximise the effectiveness of how we use our staff and resources, increasing our capacity and capability to respond to existing and emerging risks.
The year, 2023/24, will be a pivotal one, in which we will move to implement our CRMP developments into new ways of working.
Importantly, it will also be a year in which we reach out to you - our communities, businesses, partners and our staff - and ask you to take part in our three-yearly public consultation. This is your opportunity to let us know how we are doing and to share feedback to help shape our services of the future.
In 2022 we were a key partner in the delivery of the Commonwealth Games, which were such a huge success for Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region. Our work led to us being awarded ‘Emergency Service Collaboration of the Year’ at the Excellence in Fire Awards.
We were honoured to host the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation (UKRO) ‘Festival of Rescue’. Hundreds of firefighters from across the UK and beyond competed to be crowned ‘best of the best’ in a range of rescue skills. The event was also a great opportunity for fire and rescue services (FRSs) to strengthen their working ties and learn from one another. If you were among the thousands who came to watch, thank you! We hope you enjoyed seeing what your highly-trained firefighters are capable of.
It is with great pride that we can report that our latest inspection by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) saw us maintain our grade of ‘outstanding’ for response to fire and other emergencies, and receive the same grading for our overall effectiveness. We are one of only two FRSs to be graded as outstanding in ‘understanding fires and other risks’.
We also improved our grading in both ‘promoting the right values and cultures’ and ‘managing performance and developing leaders’.
This latest assessment reflects the great strides that have been made in every aspect of our work. However, our work is not complete. Our ability to innovate and continuously improve is at the core of what we do.
It is clear from news reporting and independent reviews in 2022 and 2023 that the fire and rescue sector continues to face a problem with culture and behaviours. There are still people working in our sector who do not represent the values of the service, and some staff continue to suffer bullying, harassment and discrimination. This is completely unacceptable. Where we find evidence of such behaviour we will act swiftly and decisively to root it out. We are fully committed to being an inclusive, rewarding and safe place for anyone to work and to be their true selves.
This is one of the reasons we are so proud and honoured that West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) has been ranked number one in The Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers list 2022/23.
It is an achievement that reflects the ongoing and outstanding work achieved throughout our service, by all of our teams and staff stakeholder groups who remain so invested in making it happen. We will continue to build upon what we have achieved, including the adoption of the new Core Code of Ethics for the fire sector, placing our values and behaviours at the very centre of everything we do.
Our Plan recognises that when our people feel that WMFS is a great place to work, it is our communities who benefit.
So, for the first time, our three-year rolling strategy and Our Plan include a particular focus on:
Our commitment to delivering value for money remains one of the core elements of how we deliver our strategic priorities.
The amount of money we raise through Council Tax (our 'precept') is among the lowest fire service charges in England. We have raised it by £4.99 for 2023/24, in line with flexibility afforded by central government. The increase will help us meet significant inflationary pressures which have pushed up the cost of energy, fuel, vehicles and equipment - all central to our service delivery.
We recognise that inflation is also affecting the people we serve so, in 2023/24, we will remain committed both to further improving our efficiency and productivity, and to targeting our services to support the vulnerable in our communities who feel the cost-of-living crisis most.
Everything we do is connected by our vision of making the West Midlands safer, stronger and healthier.
Our highly-trained staff aim to deliver the best fire, rescue and risk reduction services which have our communities at heart - helping them to stay safe and to thrive.
We are the second largest fire and rescue service in England, serving an area of 902km2 and covering seven local authority areas: Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
The West Midlands is home to a diverse and multi-cultural population of more than 2.9 million people, living in 1,190,943 homes. There are 101,760 non-domestic properties.
It includes areas with the highest risk in England outside of London, presenting a range of socio-economic and health and wellbeing challenges.
Through our community risk management planning, we assess risks our communities might face. It is the foundation of our three-year rolling strategy and priorities which, together, form ‘Our Plan’.
Our Plan shapes how we deliver our services and how we locate and use our resources to reduce risk and vulnerability.
During the extreme heat of Summer 2022, we were able to use our people and resources more flexibly thanks to our Risk-Based Crewing (RBC) approach and mix of vehicle types. This allowed them to deal with the large number of fires and other incidents over a short period much more efficiently
we opened our third Technical Rescue Unit, in Sutton Coldfield. This has not only increased the number of staff we have with specialist technical skills, but also supported a significant increase in female and staff from BAME (Black or Asian Minority Ethnic) backgrounds into this field of work
our new, flexible RBC approach to how we respond to incidents means our crews have been able to carry out more prevention and protection activities. This has been complemented by supporting, through our Safe and Well visits, those within our communities who are most at risk
our revised approach to Automatic Fire Alarms has seen us reduce the number of occasions a fire engine is sent to what turns out to be a false alarm. Smaller vehicles are used more often, keeping other resources available to respond to actual emergencies.
Our Community Risk Management Plan is how we assess all the current and future risks facing our communities. This influences how we set our priorities and, in turn, helps us determine what specific projects we need to implement to address these risks.
Our planning considers the views and needs of our communities, our partners and, of course, our staff. Some 11,000 people took part in our last public consultation in 2020.
Our research and data help us understand who and what is most at risk from fire and other incidents, and when and where they happen.
We gather evidence to help us better match our levels of response to different types of incidents.
We also consider the wider risks facing the West Midlands, how our partners prepare for and respond to these, and what our contribution can be, especially through key partnerships like the Local Resilience Forum.
More of the incidents to which we respond - or might in the future - are influenced by things like climate change or national projects, such as the HS2 rail line, and so may need a specialist response.
The transformational projects in last year's plan, outlined below, resulted from our latest review of our CRMP and have all been complemented by innovation and technology. These projects continue to be our focus as part of this annual plan.
We understand some people prefer to read a document rather than browse a website, so we make Our Plan available as a PDF document that you can view on our own devices or print. You can download your copy here.