‘Serious concerns’ raised by inspector as fire service is slated again in damning report

Mick Crennell

Mick Crennell - Credit: Contributed

Another scathing review has seen Avon Fire and Rescue Service labelled ‘inadequate’ by an inspector, who raised ‘serious concerns’ over its ability to keep people safe.

The service was assessed by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), with inspector Wendy Williams publishing her damning findings on December 20.

She found the service was not up to scratch at looking after the people it serves, deeming the organisation must do more to try to keep people safe and secure from fire.

The findings follow a pair of critical reports – a Home Office review in July 2017 and last month’s staff survey – which exposed a culture of bullying and management failings.

Chief Fire Officer Mick Crennell admitted people will ‘understandably have concerns’.

Ms Williams said: “We have concerns about the performance of Avon in keeping people safe and secure. In particular, we have serious concerns about the service’s effectiveness, and how it looks after its people.

“There are improvements we expect the service to make. We do not underestimate the difficulties the service has experienced since the publication of the independent statutory inspection report in 2017. The senior management team has made clear to us its determination and commitment to change the culture, behaviours and effectiveness of the organisation.

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“The service has a new Chief Fire Officer who is keen to improve performance, and I am confident this will translate into a better service.”

Mr Crennell said: “The past 18 months have seen the release of three key publications.

“There are common themes running through them and it comes as no surprise the HMICFRS report reflects what we already know and have already committed to improving.

“It is inevitable after a long period of austerity and the fact the service has, as much as possible, protected frontline operations that resources across the service are very lean and that modernisation improvements are needed.”

Don Davies, Avon Fire Authority chairman, added: “Our staff are dedicated to keeping our communities safe and the service remains committed to continually improving while providing value for money.”