Staff at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have been praised after inspectors rated the service as one of the top performing in the country.
Tyne and Wear's most senior fire officer has praised firefighters and fire staff after the Service was rated as 'Good' by Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
It is the second inspection in a row that the Service has been graded 'Good', re-affirming their position as one of the best performing Fire and Rescue Service's.
Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther welcomed the inspection results and says it is a reflection of the hard work, professionalism and dedication of firefighters and all staff at TWFRS.
But he also recognised that despite a glowing report from HMICFRS, there are still a number of areas in which they can improve.
CFO Lowther said: "I welcome the findings of the latest inspection but full credit needs to go to all staff who make this Service what it is.
"Every single day I witness members of this Service going above and beyond to keep members of their community safe. I could not be more proud of what we are achieving.
"This independent inspection process validates some of the fantastic work going on across the Service and confirms we are among the top performing in the country.
"But we are always looking to get better and the inspection process highlights some areas where we can do even more for both our workforce and the people of Tyne and Wear.
"During the 2018 / 19 inspection we were advised of 14 areas for improvement and in this most recent inspection report that number is down to eight.
"Steps have already been taken to address some of the areas of improvement highlighted by the inspectorate and we hope that reassures residents and businesses across the region.
"Our people are the most valued part of our service and I am so proud of the work they do every single day to protect the communities we serve."
The HMICFRS Inspection looks at three separate areas of work:
- Effectiveness (our emergency response and services we provide to the public) - Good
- Efficiency (how we manage our finances and how efficient we are) - Good
- People (our culture, training and how we treat our people) - Good
In its summary the HMICFRS stated TWFRS had "made progress" since the last inspection, were providing a "more effective" service and had "secured a sustainable financial future".
In particular, HMICFRS highlighted the Service for:
- Having the fastest response time to residential dwellings in England.
- Having "good plans in place to deal with major incidents".
- Responding "positively and proactively" to learning from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
- Staff being "good at identifying and responding to safeguarding concerns".
- How TWFRS responded during the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Fire safety audits being completed to a high standard.
- Making good improvements to its prevention activities in people's homes.
- Good financial management.
- Collaborating with partners and other agencies.
- Investing in technology to become more effective and efficient.
- Providing good support to staff for physical and mental wellbeing.
Councillor Phil Tye, Chairperson of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority, also praised the inspection results and said staff at the Service were "making their communities proud".
He said: "I have only recently been elected chair of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority but I have already witnessed first-hand some of the dedication of staff.
"The heatwave and subsequent fires we saw last week underlines the importance of having a high performing fire and rescue service and this grading shows Tyne and Wear has just that.
"Areas of improvement have been highlighted and I will liaise closely with the Chief Fire Officer to ensure progress is made to continually improve as a Service.
"But overall these results show that our communities are in safe hands and that Tyne and Wear remains one of the safest places to live, work and visit in the entire country."