Published 9 May 2024

NFCC Responds to HMICFRS State of Fire and Rescue 2023 Report

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Responding to His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services’ (HMICFRS) report – State of Fire and Rescue: Annual Assessment of Fire and Rescue Services in England 2023 – National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Chair, Mark Hardingham, said:

“Our fire and rescue services undertake a vital role in keeping communities safe – they do this across a variety of different fire service roles – often moving towards danger, whilst helping others to escape it. Today’s report rightly acknowledges the significant levels of dedication seen across our sector in keeping the public safe and responding to major events.

“NFCC wholeheartedly agrees that our sector must adapt to meet the changing needs of our communities, and the Inspectorate’s acknowledgement of some of the challenges we face – not least in terms of financial pressures, recruitment challenges, the sustainability of the on-call duty system, health and wellbeing, and dealing with the consequences of extreme weather – really puts that work into context.

“We know that there is a lot of hard work going in to improving fire and rescue services across the country, and it’s welcome to see on record the progress that has been made, including against the recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. We are determined to continue our role in driving progress and are bolstered by the Inspectorate’s commendation of NFCC’s work to promote improvements in areas such as values, culture, leadership, and safeguarding.

“Our number one priority is improving organisational culture across fire and rescue services. We know that this is crucial to maintaining public trust and confidence and ensuring our sector is a safe and welcoming place for all people. The report is clear that unacceptable behaviour remains commonplace. We agree that all parts of the fire and rescue service, including national functions, have a role to play in improving organisational culture and dealing with misconduct.

“We know that inclusive culture, and effective and efficient services, rely on strong, supportive leadership. We therefore continue to welcome the proposal for investment into a College of Fire and Rescue, and the importance of further engagement about how it is established and structured, for the benefit of fire and rescue services and the communities they serve.”