Asian Fire Service Association National Advisor Jagtar Singh reports on embedding diversity and inclusion following Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services’ findings.
The Asian Fire Service Association (AFSA) has been keeping a close eye on the work of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and their inspection of the sector. Lead inspector Zoe Billingham and Johnny Bugg from the Home Office attended the Spring conference in June. They will be attending AFSA conferences in 2020 as well.
AFSA work is strongly aligned to that of HMICFRS and we are determined to ensure that our support of the Fire Service complement the three key questions inspectors asked fire and rescue services:
- How effective are they in keeping people safe from fire and other risks?
- How efficient are they in keeping people safe from fire and other risks?
- How well do they look after their people?
So, what do we know about the performance of fire and rescue services?
- Most are good at responding to emergencies, but there is too much variation in how well the public are protected, how quickly emergencies are responded to and how well services look after their staff.
- Most fire and rescue services show strengths in the way they prepare for and respond to fires and other emergencies, such as road traffic collisions.
- Fire and rescue services rightly focus on prevention activities, with the best adopting innovative practices to protect those most at risk from fire, including the elderly and people with disabilities.
- Differences exist in how fire and rescue services determine their response standards and record them, how they identify and mitigate risk and how they define and audit high-risk premises.
- No fire and rescue service achieved an overall ‘outstanding’ rating for ‘People’ and of the 30 services inspected to date, 19 are rated as either ‘requiring improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ overall.
“The Fire and Rescue Service can become effective, efficient and great at looking after its staff. This will require positivity, change and joint working. The AFSA is preparing to play a key role”
In response, the HMICFRS advocates the following two key recommendations:
- Standards regarding performance in key areas should be established.
- The Home Office should address the deficit in the fire sector’s national capacity and capability to support change.
So, what can the AFSA do?
- Support the HMICFRS as part of their plans to develop standards to ensure equality, diversity and inclusion is an integral part of the FRS Inspectorate regime.
- Promote the importance of the Fire and Rescue Service continually and forever reducing public safety and risk by embracing wholeheartedly an ethic of learning.
- Continue to encourage good people management, such as improving employee engagement, inclusive recruitment practices, clear progression routes and more.
- Improvement requires a system of support through a driven agenda of capability-building in order to deliver continuous improvement.
The Fire and Rescue Service can become effective, efficient and great at looking after its staff. This will require positivity, change and joint working. The AFSA is preparing to play a key role.
Finally, standards, regulations, policy and practice all have a role in delivering safety and mitigating risk, but they also need to be complemented by the incredible power of a commitment to continuous improvement and learning.