South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
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Fire service’s pandemic response praised in South Yorkshire

A national inspection has praised the response of South Yorkshire’s fire service to the Covid-19 pandemic.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue adapted to the pandemic effectively, carried on delivering its core services and provided additional support to the community during the first phase of the pandemic.

Inspectors also found that staff wellbeing was made a clear priority for the service and praised senior leaders for actively promoting wellbeing services, in a report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) today.

Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson said: “I’m so incredibly proud of the way staff from right across the service have responded to a really difficult situation and I’m pleased that so much of their hard work has been recognised by inspectors.

“Right at the start of the pandemic, I asked my staff to stand up and be counted at a time of enormous national need. Whether it was delivering food and medicine to isolated, vulnerable people, delivering PPE to frontline health workers or volunteering to drive ambulances and fit face masks, they stepped up in a really big way.”

All fire and rescue services underwent a Covid-19 themed HMICFRS inspection to find out how well they had responded to the first stages of the pandemic.

Although they weren’t given a graded judgement, a written response highlighted areas of good work and areas for improvement.

“Whilst the pandemic has presented us with some obvious challenges and taken a terrible toll on our communities, like so many organisations it has also helped us to make massive leaps forward in terms of modernising our ways of working and planning for and responding to disruptive events such as this in the future. Our next task is to ensure all that learning and all those improvements are adopted longer term,” said Alex.

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Robert Taylor, said: “This inspection was unique, Fire and Rescue Services are normally assessed against standardised and known criteria, the onset of the Covid 19 Pandemic meant our service was required to carry out many functions and tasks it wouldn’t normally be expected to undertake and inspectors considered how the service had met that challenge.

“It is clear from this report and indeed from our own observation as a Fire Authority, the service has responded strongly and selflessly. Every member of the service has shared the same terrible and frightening experience as the rest of us; but, from strategic leadership through to performing the most basic but ‘essential for someone’ task, they have met those additional challenges admirably. I’m immensely proud and humbled by their response and delighted that the inspectors offer the formal recognition they deserve.”

The findings have been published in a letter on the HMICFRS website, which is available here.

A separate HMICFRS inspection in 2019 rated South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue ‘good’ across all three judgement criteria.

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Fire Authority approves response time arrangements

Councillors have approved a new set of response times for South Yorkshire’s fire service.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says it will still aim to attend every single 999 call as quickly as it possibly can, but that having a set of published response times will make it more accountable to local people, helps it to improve its service and bring them in line with most other fire and rescue services around the country.

A national inspection reported that it was undesirable for the service not to have a set of response standards, because it did not allow the service to measure its performance or give the public something in which they could hold the service to account.

The new response time arrangements take into account whether a person’s life is at risk, as well as the level of risk in different parts of the county based on historical incident data and other information.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby said: “Adopting a more risk based approach allows us to ensure we are placing resources in the right places at the right time to best protect the communities we serve. This includes the work we do around preventing fires, protecting buildings and responding to incidents when they do occur.

“We will still aim to get to each emergency as fast as we can, but having a set of response times means we can measure our performance to ensure we are delivering the best possible service to our communities with the resources we have available to us.”

The proposal to introduce response time standards followed consultation with nearly 4,000 local people and a thorough analysis of the different risks faced by the fire service in South Yorkshire.

They form part of the service’s latest draft ‘Integrated Risk Management Plan’. This is a plan which explains the different risks in South Yorkshire how the fire service intends to address them with the resources it has available.

The service’s final plan was approved by members of the service’s governing Fire Authority on Monday (11 January).

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