Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service being closely monitored after concerns raised

One of the service's fire engines
The service is now under an "enhanced level of monitoring" as of today. Credit: ITV News

Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is being closely monitored after inspectors raised concerns.

The service is now under an "enhanced level of monitoring" as of today (Wednesday November 22), His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said in a statement.

The move comes less than a week after Louise Harrison became chief executive officer of Bucks Fire and Rescue Service.

Her appointment followed HMICFRS inspectors telling the service it needed to make "urgent improvements" due to it being "overly reliant" on neighbouring services in responding to incidents.

The watchdog said Bucks Fire and Rescue Service had now been placed under an "enhanced level of monitoring" after not doing enough to adequately identify and prioritise those most at risk from fire, make sure teams can prioritise work according to risk, and improve equality, diversity and inclusion.

The special supervision the service is now subject to is called 'Engage', a higher level of assessment than the routine 'Scan' monitoring that all fire and rescue services are under.

HMICFRS said it doubted Bucks Fire and Rescue Service's "capacity and capability" to make the required improvements.

His Majesty's Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services Roy Wilsher said: "We move fire and rescue services into our enhanced level of monitoring, known as Engage, when a service is not responding to our concerns, or if it is not managing, mitigating or eradicating these concerns.

"The Engage process provides additional scrutiny and support from the inspectorate and other external organisations in the fire and rescue sector to help the fire and rescue service improve and provide a better service for the public.

"Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has been asked to urgently produce an improvement plan and will meet regularly with our inspectors. We will work closely with the service to monitor its progress against these important and necessary changes."

Mick Osborne, Interim Chief Fire Officer for Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We welcome the support of His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in assisting with our improvement journey.

"The Senior Management Team and Service Officers are already working hard to address the issues raised and are fully committed to the Engage stage of the fire service monitoring process.

"We have set out how we will address the recommendations in our Action Plan, which was submitted to HMICFRS on 15 November, and will be presented to the Fire Authority at its meeting on 6 December 2023.

"Our focus is to deliver improvements which resolve the Inspectorate’s concerns, while ensuring we provide the best service possible for the people of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.”

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