Kent fire service rated good by inspectors
PUBLISHED: 13:00 29 June 2019
Kent's fire service, which covers Gravesend and Dartford, has been rated as good by watchdogs.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has been declared as effective, efficient and also looks after its people.
This is following an independent inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, known as HMICFRS.
The inspectors ruled the service should be awarded a good rating in all three of its key areas in the first review of its kind.
As a result, it is now one of the top performing services in the country, of those assessed so far as part of a rolling programme to inspect all 45 in England.
During a visit in January, inspectors assessed how effectively and efficiently Kent Fire and Rescue Service prevents, protects the public against, and responds to, fires and other emergencies. They also looked at how well the service looks after its staff.
The conclusion is that KFRS achieved good in the three key areas assessed.
Kent fire service said not only does the report highlight its ability to respond to incidents effectively, and spend public money appropriately, but also it offers "excellent wellbeing support" for staff, noting "a culture of trust and empowerment" with some outstanding staff practices.
KFRS said it has already taken steps to improve areas highlighted by inspectors, such as ensuring local training records are kept up to date, and recruiting more people to its technical fire safety team to increase productivity and achieve auditing targets.
Ann Millington, chief executive of Kent Fire and Rescue Service, said: "This was the first inspection of its kind and a great opportunity to hear from an independent body how we're performing.
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"I'm pleased and proud that Kent has been graded a good fire service, but we can strive for better - it is part of our DNA.
"It's important we continue to improve the services we offer our communities - because there's always more to be done.
"This positive outcome wouldn't have been possible without the hard work of every member of our team. I am thankful to have such a strong and passionate workforce, made up of people who genuinely care about each other, keeping our customers safe and providing a good service 24/7.
"Thanks also goes to HMICFRS' inspectors, whose recommendations we welcome and we have started implementing changes in a majority of suggested areas since the visit in January."
And Nick Chard, chairman of Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority, added: "I'm very pleased to hear that Kent Fire and Rescue Service is among the top performing fire services in the country following its good inspection.
"This comes as a result of hard work and dedication from firefighters and officers, who together provide the community with a fire and rescue service to be proud of."
In her finding, HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services Zoë Billingham said: "I am pleased that we have rated Kent Fire and Rescue Service as good across all three areas of our inspection. This is a modern and innovative fire service that is prepared to find new ways of doing things. Many other fire and rescue services could learn from the example it sets.
"The service performs well in one of its primary duties: responding to fires and other emergencies.
"We found good collaboration with other local emergency services, including the ambulance service and the police, which improves the service given to the people of Kent.
"We were very impressed with how Kent Fire and Rescue Service manages and looks after its people; some of the practice we found is outstanding.
"We were struck by the positive relationship between staff and senior leadership, which encourages direct contact and a culture of trust and empowerment.
"I look forward to continuing to see strong performance from Kent Fire and Rescue Service in future inspections."