Essex County Fire and Rescue Service



Wednesday, 27 July, 2022


We are good at understanding fires and other risks – results of our latest HMICFRS report


Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has published its report into our effectiveness, efficiency and how well we look after our people.

We were inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) as part of an inspection programme for all UK fire and rescue services. 

It assesses how effective each Service is at preventing, protecting against and responding to fire and other risks, whether the Service provides value for money and how well the Service looks after its people and ensures fairness and diversity.

Although the report has rated that we require improvement across the three areas of assessment, it has recognised that we are good at understanding fire and other risks.

Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive of ECFRS, Rick Hylton, said: “This report doesn’t contain any surprises for us. We want to become the best fire and rescue service in the country and we know that there is a lot for us to do to get there.

“We already have plans in place to cover the areas for improvement highlighted in this report. 

“We have made progress since this inspection took place and we know what we need to do.”

“I’m proud of my team. Every single one of us works hard every day to make Essex a safer place for everyone to live work and travel and we are all committed to improvement.

“You only have to look at how we have responded as a Service to the many incidents caused by the recent heatwave, and the support the public has given us, to know we are on the right path.”

One area highlighted in the report is our improvement in promoting the right values and culture to our people. This was graded as inadequate in a previous inspection.

Rick added: “We still have a long way to go but I’m pleased that the work we are doing to embed and promote the right values and culture has been recognised by the inspectors.”

Read the full report here.

Previous inspection news 

Fire and Rescue Services: COVID-19 response 
An inspection of how FRS in England responded to the COVID-19 pandemic 
January 2021

We were inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services in October 2020 as part of an inspection into how fire and rescue services were responding to Covid-19, as they continued to face challenges during a difficult period. 

In an official letter received on Friday 22 January the inspectors praised ECFRS for being well prepared, the support it offered to partners, maintenance of its core services and putting the welfare of its staff at the heart of decisions and activities. 

ECFRS received notable feedback in the following areas: 

The inspectors said business continuity plans were well developed and enabled ECFRS to respond quickly. 

Statutory duties 
The work of frontline firefighters, community safety officers, fire protection staff, water services, training staff and fleet and central stores, all underpinned by support services, meant ECFRS was able to maintain the delivery of statutory duties. There was particular reference to targeted and risk assessed approach to prevention and protection work. 

Inspectors said wellbeing and safety was a clear ECFRS priority and firefighters’ core competence was maintained. Additionally, 93% of colleagues who completed an all-staff survey said they felt supported and appreciated. 
Partnership working 
Partnership has been vital throughout the pandemic and ECFRS was praised for the work they put into this. Inspectors noted the additional activities ECFRS carried out, including driving ambulances, delivering PPE and medical supplies, providing driving instructor training and packing food supplies. This was alongside its role in the Essex Resilience Forum and Strategic Coordination Group through the staffing of the Multi Agency Information Cell. 

New ways of working  
Inspectors praised how quickly new ICT solutions were put into practice and how well ECFRS adapted to remote working to ensure that essential support services could be maintained. 

<< Read the full letter to ECFRS by clicking here >>  

<< Read the full report by clicking here >>


In summer 2017, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) began inspecting the efficiency and effectiveness of all fire and rescue services in England. Formerly known as Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), the name was changed to reflect the addition of fire and rescue services.

HMICFRS independently assesses fire and rescue services on how we prevent, protect against and respond to fires and other emergencies as well as how well we look after our staff.

In summer 2019 HMICFRS inspected ECFRS for the first time and in December 2019 it published a report of its findings.

Overall summary of inspection findings from HMICFRS

We are satisfied with some aspects of the performance of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (FRS). But there are several areas where the service needs to make improvements.

We judged Essex County FRS to require improvement to the effectiveness of its service. It requires improvement to how it:

  • understands the risk of fire and other emergencies;
  • prevents fires and other risks; and
  • protects the public through fire regulation.

But it is good at responding to fires and other emergencies. And its response to national risks is good.

The service’s efficiency requires improvement, in particular to how it uses resources. But it is good at making its services affordable.

The way Essex County FRS looks after its people requires improvement. We judged the way it promotes the right values and culture to be inadequate. It requires improvement to how it:

  • gets the right people with the right skills; and
  • ensures fairness and promoting diversity.

But it is good at managing performance and developing leaders.

Overall, we would like to see improvements in the year ahead.



Formal report following Essex County Fire and Rescue Service Peer Review

In October 2018 a team of colleagues from other Fire and Rescue services and the Local Government Association visited ECFRS and met with more than 150 colleagues during a series of timetabled interviews, focus groups and station visits.

The report provides honest and constructive feedback on the Service, highlighting strengths and suggesting areas where there is room for improvement.

The report will now be used to drive forward improvements.

Read the full report online

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