Chief Fire Officer issues initial response to inspection report

Tue 17 Dec, 2019


Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has completed its reports on all 45 fire and rescue services in England, with the final tranche of 15, including Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service (BFRS), published today (17 December).

HMICFRS inspections assess the effectiveness and efficiency of fire and rescue services and how well they look after their staff. You can find HMICFRS's news release about its inspection of BFRS, and the full BFRS inspection report, and access the news releases and reports from all the other fire and rescue services, on the HMICFRS website.

Jason Thelwell QFSM, BFRS’s Chief Fire Officer, has issued this initial response to HMICFRS’s report of its inspection of BFRS:

"The report highlights the significant challenges we are facing and we are of course incredibly proud of our staff. The report makes it quite clear that there are no concerns about how we deal with incidents. The report also clearly states that ‘fundamentally . . . it does not have enough people and money’ and ‘without increased funding, it is difficult to see where progress can be made’.

“Our staff have worked incredibly hard to maintain the service we provide to our community, but this is becoming increasingly difficult. The inspector has stated that this is a well-run service and that the service is to be commended for its resilience.

"The service receives the lowest council tax for any Combined Fire Authority across the country at less than £65 a year for a band D property, and these financial constraints have resulted in 30 per cent fewer firefighter numbers, as well as reductions in other areas of the organisation. The inspector stated that ‘in large part this is due to circumstances beyond their control’.

“Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority itself has been lobbying for further funding for the last few years, and both the Chairman of the Authority, Councillor Lesley Clarke OBE, and I call upon the new Conservative Government to consider the implications of this report.

"We are asking it either to increase funding centrally, or to allow us to increase our council tax above the cap of two per cent (£1.30 a year) to enable us to raise our share of the council tax by £5 a year, so that we are not left behind. This money would be spent on more firefighting staff to respond to emergencies and undertake important prevention and fire protection activities.”