Fire Service judged to be ‘effective and efficient’

Newport Fire Station

The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service is ‘good at keeping people safe’, an inspection report has revealed.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found the service not only responded to incidents effectively but was also good at helping to prevent them.

It is also an efficient service which made good use of resources, the report said.

The inspection – the first of its kind – also identified areas where improvements are needed, including issues around staff morale.

Councillor Tig Outlaw, Cabinet member for public protection, said: “First and foremost, I’m pleased the report has confirmed the service is safe.

“While we’ve been saying this for some time, I’m reassured to hear the inspectors say our residents are well protected by our firefighters.

“We all want to have the best possible fire and rescue service for the Isle of Wight.”

While the report acknowledged the service attracts the right people with the right skills, it concluded other areas around diversity and fairness needed to improve.

It also said the service should be more flexible to ensure incidents get the right level of response.

Councillor Outlaw added: “As an Island-based service, we face unique challenges to make sure our service is resilient as it can be.

“We have to constantly assess how we can best provide the services and resources our residents rely on.

“We already have several effective partnerships to help enable this and we will continue to work with them where there is a clear benefit to the Island’s community.

“Alongside that, we’re currently working through the service review, which will better match resources with demand.”

Inspectors noted the Island’s road safety partnership and the current arrangements with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, which includes shared senior leadership and a joint control room.

The report also referenced staff comments around management styles, which inspectors felt had the potential, at times, to be seen as bullying, although they found no examples.

In response, the Island’s senior fire officer, Howard Watts, said: “We have a fantastic workforce who are incredibly professional, passionate and committed to keeping the Island safe.

“We were completely open and honest with the HMI – we know we need to do much better in showing people how much we value them.

“We are committed to creating an inclusive and inspiring working environment where staff can thrive.

“We still have some way to go but I’m pleased the HMI recognised we are heading in the right direction.”

Formal inspections for fire and rescue services were reintroduced by the government last year to assess their efficiency, effectiveness and leadership.

HMI inspectors visited the Island in July, the first fire and rescue service in the country to be inspected under the new regime.