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  1. ITV Report

Two of the region's fire services come under attack for not being good enough

  • Click below to watch a video report by ITV News Anglia's Stuart Leithes on Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service

Two of our region's fire services have been told they must improve to keep the public safe.

A Government report says Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service doesn't have enough fire engines and is "inadequate" when it comes to responding to emergencies.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service also ranked it inadequate for staff shortages with a high number of unfilled posts due to the recent financial instability of Northamptonshire County Council.

The report highlighted the 'financial straightjacket' that has been hampering the service.

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service has been told it's inadequate. Credit: ITV News Anglia

While there are some areas of good practice, we found that Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service requires improvement across all three areas of our inspection.

During our inspection we found a committed and proud workforce wanting to do their best for the people of Northamptonshire. However, the financial straightjacket placed on the service has severely impacted what the service can provide.

Of particular concern is the service's emergency response capability, which we rated as 'inadequate'. The service has identified that it needs at least 14 fire engines available at any one time. However, in the short time period we sampled there were far fewer available engines than this, which has a clear knock-on effect on response capability.

More positively, the service knows its risk and has well-developed prevention and protection strategies. But it has too few staff are available to provide what is required. We were also concerned that, at the time of our inspection, the service did not have any financial reserves in place.

Finally, we identified several problems with the service's approach to workforce management. Although it takes staff wellbeing seriously, it does not have a workforce plan in place to deal with absences.

– Zoë Billingham, HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services
Northants wasn't the only service to be criticised.

Northamptonshire wasn't the only fire service to come under criticism.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has also been warned it's not good enough and needs to improve by inspectors.

Norfolk was told it needs to improve the way it uses resources. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Norfolk was found to be good at responding to emergencies and making the organisation more affordable but was told it needs to improve how it prevents fires and the way it uses resources.

The report also highlighted the issue of bullying at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service- with 17% of the 195 respondents reporting that they felt bullied or harassed. 15% reported feeling discriminated against at work in the last 12 months.

Bosses and county council leaders said they were "disappointed" with some of the report findings but pledged to improve the service.

"We welcome the report and are pleased that four areas of our work were recognised as being good. While I'm disappointed with some findings, I am committed to improving the service and acting on the points raised. I was saddened to learn that a number of staff felt there was an issue with bullying. Bullying is not acceptable and will not be tolerated within the service. Many improvements have already been made and I will continue to make the others happen."

– Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's Chief Fire Officer, Stuart Ruff
  • Click below to watch a video report by ITV News Anglia's Malcolm Robertson on Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service...