Published 20 January 2023

NFCC responds to the annual State of Fire report

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Following the publication of the annual State of Fire report, the National Fire Chiefs Council responds to its findings.  

Published today by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, it looks at the fire and rescue service’s effectiveness, efficiency and how they focus on their staff. 

In the report, HMICFRS Chief Inspector Andy Cooke said: “I am continually struck by the dedication of firefighters and other staff, and I know the public feel the same – they are enormous assets to our communities.” 

Responding to the report, NFCC (National Fire Chiefs Council) Chair Mark Hardingham commented: “There is a lot to be proud of in this year’s annual report. To see the dedication of professional staff highlighted is no surprise, with 84 per cent of the public valuing the work carried out by fire and rescue services.  

“I am also pleased to see the role of NFCC, and our national work highlighted. Our programmes provide all fire and rescue services with the tools to build on the excellent work taking place, while making improvements in areas we know need to be better.” 

NFCC’s work on developing national fire and rescue policy – including in areas of Leadership and the Core Code of Ethics is highlighted; also, the partnership between NFCC and the National Employers and the Local Government Association on the Fit for the Future initiative which sets out the future role of the fire and rescue service; the continued development and publication of national Fire Standards, and improvements in the regulatory fire safety role of fire services.  

After one of the hottest and longest summers on record, firefighters and fire and rescue services were also praised for dealing with the significant increase in the number and scale of wildfires last year, linked to the increasing impact of climate change on the sector.  

However, Mr Cooke has also continued the HMICFRS call for urgent reform of the fire and rescue service and for the government to act on recommendations set out in this and previous reports.  

Prevention work is an area that has been highlighted as requiring improvement to continue to drive down deaths and injuries from fires and other incidents, targeted especially at the most vulnerable people in communities.  

Concerns about the culture and inclusion in some fire and rescue services stands out as an area which requires improvement, referencing unacceptable levels of bullying, harassment, and discrimination. HMICFRS will be producing a spotlight report on values and culture later this year, drawing from inspections already undertaken across every fire service in England. 

Mr Hardingham added: “We know there is a lot to do in areas such as culture, diversity, and wider reform. As set out in the report, this is more than just having a representative workforce, it is about creating the right inclusive environment to ensure all staff feel valued, safe, and able to realise their full potential at work. Whilst there is much that every fire service can do, and some are, to maximise the potential benefits for staff and the public it needs all those working across the fire sector to continue to work together to address areas where there are clear issues.  

“NFCC has a wide range of well-developed national work underway with a focus on people and culture. We believe this will make a difference and deliver improvements across all fire services. However, the journey of culture change is rarely a ‘quick fix’ and requires sustained investment, and I welcome the forthcoming HMI spotlight report focusing on values and culture. 

“I look forward to working with Government on the next stage of fire service reform and the publication in the coming months of the response to the White Paper consultation from 2022. Reform will need continued investment in fire services and their national bodies, and we welcome the opportunity to continue the engagement that has been established to this point. This must provide further opportunities to improve and build on the confidence the public clearly have in their fire and rescue services.”