Bucks Fire and Rescue Service needs to make 'urgent improvements', new report states

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A damning 52-page assessment has found that the fire service needs to improve in most areas

A new report has found that Bucks Fire and Rescue Service ‘requires improvement’ overall.

An official investigation into the fire service’s operations found it to be adequate in one area of assessment, inadequate in another category, the remaining nine sections were graded as ‘requires improvement’.

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This is the second lowest grade which His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services give out, the lowest being inadequate.

Bucks Fire and Rescue ServiceBucks Fire and Rescue Service
Bucks Fire and Rescue Service

Inspectors completed their third assessment of the fire service between April and June, with the findings being published on Thursday (19 October).

The only category where the fire service was given an adequate score was for its response to major incidents.

Inspectors said the service must improve its understanding of fire and risk, its ability to prevent fire and risks before they happen, its response to fires and emergencies, and how it uses its resources.

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Bucks Fire and Rescue Service must also improve its financial viability, its workplace culture, its ability to hire the right people with the right skills, its ability to promote diversity and fairness, and its leadership.

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HMICFRS inspector Roy Wilsher said: “I have concerns about the performance of Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service in keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks.

“The service has made some improvements since our 2021 inspection, but we were disappointed to see that it hasn’t made enough progress in more areas.

“We recognise that it has faced challenges over recent years, including the capacity to change, although there is a clear commitment from staff in the service to improve.

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“Given the nature of some of the problems we have identified, we will keep in close contact with the service to monitor its progress in addressing areas for improvement, causes of concern and associated recommendations.”

In some instances the inspection group expects to see changes made to the fire service’s process within 28 days.

In response to the report, Bucks Fire and Rescue Service chairman, Councillor Simon Rouse, said: “This report is difficult but important reading for all of us who value the vital role that our Fire and Rescue Service plays in keeping communities safe across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. Despite many positives, the service has not made enough progress since the last HMICFRS report. The Authority will be seeking clear plans and focused action to which we can hold the service to account in urgently addressing the areas highlighted.

“With finances now strengthened and operational resources increased, a sound platform to now accelerate transformation of the service is there to deliver the improvements needed.

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"The HMICFRS report specifically highlights that staff within Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service want things to change too. That is an important message we have heard as a fire authority. We know that the will and determination to learn from this report is shared across the fire authority and colleagues in the service. The service has our full support to do what is needed to deliver the change and improvements our communities in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes deserve.”