THE REGION’S fire service has been told it must improve how it treats staff and be more efficient as part of an annual inspection.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) was awarded a ‘good’ rating for effectiveness but ‘requires improvement’ for efficiency and people.

The report said the fire service was ‘good’ at responding to fires and other emergencies and understanding the risks of fire but ‘required improvement’ for preventing fires.

HWFRS was given a ‘requires improvement’ rating for ‘people’ which includes how it promotes its values and how it ensures fairness and diversity. The fire service was given a ‘good’ rating for how well its staff are trained and skilled.

For ‘efficiency’, the fire service was given a ‘requires improvement’ rating for how well it uses its resources to manage risk but a ‘good’ rating for how it finds an affordable way of managing risk.

The findings were based on inspections carried out between June 2018 and August 2019.

Nathan Travis, chief fire officer of Hereford and Worcester Fire Service, said the report had shown how the fire service had not compromised its “high-quality service” in the face of a “challenging environment.”

Mr Travis said: “Over the last few years the service has had to make some difficult decisions to enable us to maintain our effectiveness and efficiency with the limited resources available to us.

“But I believe our HMIFRS inspection report demonstrates that we’ve been able to achieve that difficult balance without compromising the high quality and sustainable services we deliver to our communities.

“And although our HMIFRS report highlights that we still have improvements to make, our overall performance is comparable to many other services throughout England, even in the face of the challenging environment we have found ourselves in.

“It is also important to note that although the final outcomes of the Grenfell inquiry may well place more even responsibility on fire and rescue services in the future, I am confident that the commitment and professionalism of our staff and managers will help us to meet those challenges effectively.”

In his first annual assessment of fire and rescue services in England, Sir Thomas Winsor, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services (HMIFRS), said the fire service’s greatest strength was in how it responded to emergencies, with demonstration of a number of life-saving initiatives and a strong health and safety culture.

However, he said fire and rescue services across the country needed significant reform in several areas.

Roger Phillips, chairman of the fire authority said: “We welcome the report and broadly support the recommendations Sir Tom makes, particularly in clarifying the role of the service and firefighters, as well as the need to reform national employment and negotiation arrangements.

“In respect to the recommendation around the operational independence of chief fire officers, Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority has always worked collaboratively with its chief fire officer, recognising their role as our senior professional advisor to the authority, whilst at the same time not compromising their independence.”

“Furthermore, at a local level, the service already has a well-established code of conduct and we have recently reviewed our core values - something which was widely consulted upon and developed in conjunction with our staff.”