Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service among the best following inspection

Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service is one of only four fire and rescue services to be given an ‘outstanding’ judgement in any category following inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

A top-quality blue-light service

Following the second out of three tranches of inspections it is the highest scoring County Council Fire and Rescue Service as well as amongst the top ten services in England.

The service was inspected by HMICFRS in November 2018, in the first full assessment of fire and rescue services in England for several years.

The inspection assessed how effectively and efficiently Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service prevents, protects the public against and responds to fires. It also assessed how well the Service looks after staff.

The service, which was in the second tranche of fire and rescue services to be inspected, was rated as ‘outstanding’ for promoting its values and culture. The inspectorate found that Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service was 'good' across all three core areas.

Oxfordshire cited in the National fire and rescue report as “Good” practice

The service has been cited in the national report as delivering best practice in a number of areas including:

Identifying and mitigating risk in the communities - Oxfordshire does this well with service-wide plans and station plans helping to drive local activities.

Influencing improvement to fire protection - Oxfordshire successfully worked with Oxford City Council to fit sprinklers in their high-rise residential blocks

Incident call handling - Thames Valley Control Service effectively handles emergency calls for Oxfordshire ensuring a quick response to emergencies.

Responding to emergencies at high risk sites - Oxfordshire carries out command training with staff based on the high risk sites in the county ensuring that staff are well trained for any emergencies in these buildings

Collaboration with others - Oxfordshire collaborate well with other FRS’s in various areas to maintain services and make savings to deliver an effective service to the public

Promoting the right values and culture - Oxfordshire has a new senior leadership team that has created an inclusive and positive culture with staff feeling comfortable to raise ideas and feeling valued throughout the organisation

Resolving staff concerns - Oxfordshire has low levels of grievances

Working around the clock 365 days a year

Simon Furlong, Oxfordshire’s Chief Fire Officer, said: “The Fire and Rescue Service puts the safety of Oxfordshire residents firmly at the heart of everything it does, and the inspectors were left in no doubt about this.

“Our staff work around the clock every single day of the year to improve public safety and, when things go wrong for residents, we respond quickly and effectively.

“The recognition is very encouraging for the service and I would like to publicly thank everyone who contributes and works hard for the service and the community it protects.

“The message to our communities in Oxfordshire is that we have one of the best fire and rescue services in England here in our county upon which residents can rely every day to protect, prevent and respond in times of need.’”

Outstanding approach to diversity

Oxfordshire’s reputation for promoting diversity and making a career in fire and rescue a realistic aspiration for all has been a major driving force for the service in recent years.

The service recently embarked on a recruitment publicity campaign featuring on-call firefighters from a range of backgrounds entitled “Can you see yourself being an on-call firefighter?”.

“A diverse community should mean a diverse fire and rescue service – it really is a career that many more people could consider. That is why our most recent campaign shows active firefighters in their ordinary and extra-ordinary lives.

“There is a lot that goes into being a highly valued emergency service and we were very pleased that the inspectors also rated us as outstanding for promoting the right values and culture – we are, after all, here to represent and support a rich and diverse community in Oxfordshire.”

County Councillor Judith Heathcoat, Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council and Cabinet member for Fire and Rescue, said: “This is very much a modern fire and rescue service and I am proud to see that the hard work of our staff has been recognised in this inspection report.

“Inspections are an important way to get objective feedback on how a service is performing and our achievements are being rightly celebrated”

“However, actions speak louder than words and that is why we have been really trying to get the word out that working for the fire and rescue service really could be for anyone and the diverse range of attendance on recent try-out days has reflected this.”