In the first of his exclusive columns for FIRE magazine, Andy Cooke, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services, reports on progressive service initiatives.
This is my first column for FIRE. I’m pleased to be writing to you once a quarter to update you on news at HMICFRS, the fire inspectorate, and to share innovative, good practice and reflect on what I’ve learned in the role of His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services.
In this issue, I’d like to shine a light on some of the good practice I see as I inspect and oversee fire and rescue services across England. Of course, the role of the inspectorate is to identify areas for improvement and causes of concern – but while I’ll always be transparent about those, I am also here to be vocal about what fire and rescue services are doing right.
After six months in this role, and another year at HMICFRS, I’ve met many firefighters and fire and rescue staff who demonstrate incredible bravery, compassion and dedication to keeping their communities safe. The stakes in fire and rescue are so high and I will always speak out to say how much the country owes to these services. It is encouraging to see many services that received causes of concern in our first round of inspections have taken meaningful steps to improve and act on recommendations.
This summer, we published reports on 15 fire and rescue services across the country in the second phase of our second round of inspections, as well as an overview of the national picture. We have continued to see a general positive shift in services prioritising protection, and I urge the sector to continue this focus so the public can benefit in the long term.
We also identified areas where improvement is needed, particularly values, culture and diversity, and we will continue to work with services across the country to encourage them to address these issues as a matter of urgency.
Read the full article on page 11 of our digital issue to hear some examples of innovative and effective practice, from prevention to fairness and diversity.