ECFRS praised for Covid-19 response by HMICFRS
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has praised the way Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) has continued to keep its public and residents safe while supporting partners through the pandemic.
ECFRS was inspected by HMICFRS 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.
Chief Fire Officer/ Chief Executive, Jo Turton said:
“I’m really pleased that we received some excellent feedback from the inspectorate.
“We continually work to reassure our public that regardless of what is happening we will always be there for them in an emergency. We're also so passionate about our prevention work and know this is a priority to keeping people safe in their homes.
"This report echoes this message and highlights how we manage to do this in a way that keeps our people safe throughout a global pandemic.
“The overwhelming feeling I got when reading this publication was that the inspectors spoke of a Service that I recognise, and a Service that I am incredibly proud to be a part of.”
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said:
“There’s some really positive feedback from this inspection that echoes what I’ve seen the Service deliver during this pandemic.
"HMICFRS has recognised the ECFRS's commitment to its core services and staff wellbeing throughout this difficult time, in addition to going above and beyond in the way it supported other emergency services and public sector organisations.
“The inspectorate's findings reflect the Service’s hard work and the culture we now have. I am incredibly proud of our fire service as are the residents of Essex. Feedback from our regular public engagement meetings has been nothing but praise.”
ECFRS received notable feedback in the following areas:
The inspectors said business continuity plans were well developed and enabled ECFRS to respond quickly.
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 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.
Hear Chief Fire Officer/ Chief Executive Jo Turton and Deputy Chief Fire Officer Rick Hylton speak about the feedback: