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Inspectors give Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue a clean bill of health

Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey

The firefighters and staff of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) have been congratulated on their “commitment and determination to drive improvement for their community” by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), who visited the service to check on progress following concerns raised in an earlier inspection.

HMICFRS carried out their first inspection of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service in November 2018 and their subsequent report raised significant concerns about fire engine availability and the way training in critical safety skills was managed.

An improvement plan was put in place and a re-visit by Inspectors last June showed that NFRS had made significant improvement. Between 2nd and 5th March 2020, the Inspectors visited again to check progress against the improvement plan.

This time, the Inspectors found that NFRS had prioritised improvement and that there was no longer any cause for concern about their performance.

Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey said he is delighted that the focus of firefighters and staff on these priority areas has been so effective. He said that the announcement was particularly welcome now, when he hoped it would help to give extra confidence in their emergency services to local people when the health emergency is a cause for extra concern.

In a letter to the Chief Fire Officer, the Inspectors said that “the tangible improvements we saw have mitigated the risks to public safety that we identified in our original inspection”.

They identified that:

  • Measures introduced to improve fire engine availability are proving effective, with a minimum number achieved on 95%-99% of occasions – “a vast improvement” according to the report
  • Staff are now all up to date with their safety-critical training

The letter can be viewed here:

Zoe Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector for Police, Fire and Rescue Services in the East, South East and East Midlands, said: “Our revisit of Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service revealed many positives. The Chief Fire Officer and his senior leadership team have displayed a strong commitment to resolve the issues we were concerned about, and have made the necessary improvement activity a high priority. Better co-ordination of staff has improved fire engine availability, safety critical training is now up to date and performance data is being used more effectively to aid decision making.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all firefighters and members of staff working for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service for the positive progress that has been made so far, and for their clear determination to help drive improvement for their communities.”

The Inspectors now said they do not need to revisit the Service to monitor these areas of performance.

Chief Fire Officer of NFRS Darren Dovey, said: “This is fantastic news and I hope at this time when people are looking to their emergency services more than ever, our communities in Northamptonshire can feel reassured and confident in our ability and determination to keep them safe.
“We are very clearly moving forward as a service, with more fire engines available to respond, better response times and carrying out an enormous amount of prevention work with businesses and with the community. I am glad that our progress as an efficient and effective fire and rescue service has been clear to our Inspectors.”

Stephen Mold, Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said: “At such an uncertain time for the country, this is welcome and reassuring news that I am proud to be able to share with the public of Northamptonshire.

“I took on the governance of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service as I believed that the Chief Officer Team needed the support and the autonomy to be able to put in place a transformational improvement plan and overcome the challenges that they had faced in the past. I am proud to see the progress that has been made so quickly and that these achievements have been recognised by national inspectors.

“This is a great new start now that we have recruited 20 new firefighters, with 12 more to come in the next few months, and invested in new fire engines and other vehicles. I thank the Chief Fire Officer and his team again on behalf of everyone in the county.”


The Chief Fire Officer recently released a report about NFRS’s first 12 months under the Governance of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold, which can be found here.

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