Following a tough, two-day peer assessment, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has been successful in its bid to reach the 'Achieving' level of the FRS Equality Framework.

The national framework allows fire and rescue services to examine their activities against key equality and diversity principles, to measure their performance against three levels - Developing, Achieving and Excellent - and benchmark against other fire and rescue services.

The framework sets out how well the organisation understands and involves diverse communities and where improvements are needed in order to better protect the public. It also examines how the organisation operates as an employer, how it treats staff and how committed it is to its core values.

Five peer assessors from fire and rescue and local government spent two days reading Devon and Somerset's self-assessment document, examining documentary evidence that they had provided and holding focus groups and one-to-one meetings with members, employees and representatives of the community and voluntary sector.

Some of the areas of strength that they identified are:

  • Clear leadership commitment to equality and diversity demonstrated by our officers and the Authority
  • The new Equality Risks and Benefits Assessment (ERBA)
  • Staff Supporters Network
  • Developing and using different data sources to identify high risk individuals and groups
  • Good examples of partnership working
  • Good access to welfare support.

They also highlighted some areas for us to develop further. These included:

  • Strengthening member involvement in equality and diversity
  • More community involvement in developing corporate and local plans
  • Reviewing equality and diversity training.

Encouragingly, the service said it had identified these areas as needing improvement in its own self-assessment, and reported that some steps towards improvements are underway, including the development of a new equality training policy.

The peers were very complimentary about the organisation and the way in which they were made to feel welcome by employees, members and partners. They said they were particularly impressed with the high esteem in which the service is held by community and voluntary sector partners.

The peer assessors are now preparing a detailed report which we will receive early in the new year.


Posted December 6th, 2011 at 1055 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: