Avon Fire and Rescue Service computer system 'crashing during 999 calls'

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Systems at Avon Fire and Rescue Service are putting the public at risk, an inspector says.

They found that the mobilisation system for responding to emergencies was unreliable and often crashed during 999 calls.

It was not effectively gathering and recording up-to-date information about the risks to firefighters attending an emergency, as well as those for the public and property.

The fire inspectorate said all staff should be trained in how to carry out and identify site-specific risk information.

Avon Fire and Rescue Service was issued with two causes of concern today (16 August).

The inspectorate said it was not confident that all buildings and places of risk had been identified, and that some firefighters were gathering risk information with no training or quality assurance processes in place.

It also found ongoing issues with the mobilisation system during 999 calls, including system crashes, causing slower responses to emergencies.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services recommended that Avon FRS should, by 19 September 2023, draw up action plans to fix the problems.

Inspector Wendy Williams said: “Despite demonstrating some improvements over the years since our inspections began, the shortcomings our recent inspection found in Avon Fire and Rescue Service are so serious that they are a potential risk to public safety.

“It is unacceptable to have a 999 emergency response system which is unreliable and crashes during calls. This means the service is delayed in responding to emergencies in moments of most need.

“Ensuring Avon FRS can effectively gather and record relevant and up-to-date risk information is crucial to protect firefighters, the public and property during an emergency. I will be closely monitoring the service’s performance to make sure that public safety comes first.”

Avon FRS is the first fire and rescue service in the country to be issued with an accelerated cause of concern.

HMICFRS will monitor Avon FRS’s progress against its recommendations and will publish its full FRS report in due course.