Fire Service ‘pleased' with outcome of COVID-19 performance inspection

Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton: "We are pleased the HMI report recognises how effectively the Service and it's staff are operating during this pandemic."

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service is encouraged by a report that assessed its effectiveness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Fire Officer, Rod Hammerton said: “We are pleased the HMI report recognises how effectively the Service and it's staff are operating during this pandemic.

“Shropshire’s largely rural landscape and elderly population means the Service’s approach to any activities were always primarily based upon stringent risk assessments with every decision taken, considering the risk of spreading the virus and the fire immediate risk.

“Little was known about COVID-19 during the first weeks of lockdown, but we continued to provide our communities with the same exceptional level of fire cover throughout including response activities such as fires, road traffic collisions, water and animal rescues and other emergencies.

“Once we were sure it was safe for the public and our staff, we restored our full range of protection and prevention activities to support businesses and residents and even provided extra support for partners with deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE) and helping to fit face masks for front line workers in care homes.

“Our effective performance has allowed us to support our partners. We have also been instrumental in providing mental health support through our network of Trauma Risk Incident Management (TRIM) practitioners.

“Frontline staff such as NHS, care home workers and mental health teams who may be going through distressing events as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, have benefitted from ongoing support."

“This has been achieved because of the continued commitment and flexibility of our staff who have all been diligent in keeping themselves and all around them safe.”

The report issued by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMI) inspected the service in October last year and identified that the service continues to be effective in delivering its operational response to emergencies and its prevention work.

The HMI did state that in the first three months of the pandemic the Service had not undertaken its business fire safety inspections in the way the HMI would have expected. but the report recognised the Service had made a conscious decision to suspend this activity in order to carefully balance the risk of its officers' visits potentially assisting with the spread of the pandemic and  This was because many of these inspections would have been in premises with high-risk occupants such as care homes and hospitals that are generally well manged. Additional fire safety advice was provided instead on a case-by-case basis.

The Service has fully resumed its inspection programme in line with national guidelines and the Service has continued to fulfil all its statutory duty to enforce instances where complaints were raised, or serious breaches identified, throughout

Prevention activities involve work with residents and are commonly carried out in people’s homes. The visits include fire safety visits called ‘Safe & Well’ where face to face fire safety and health assessments are carried out.

Chief Fire Officer Hammerton said “I am confident our contingency measures will cope should we experience high levels of staff absences from COVID 19 and we are currently gathering volunteers to further support local authorities and other partners with the vital work of testing and vaccination.”

He added “We will take on board the learning from the HMI and continue to adapt to this dynamic situation - working to achieve the best outcomes for our staff and the communities of Shropshire”

The full report can be found here.

The HMI accompaying press release is available here.

22nd January, 2021