Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) has today (22 Jan 2021) received a positive inspection report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). It details how the Service has responded to the pandemic, maintaining vital services to its communities, and working to support partner agencies.
The letter, which follows a virtual COVID-19 inspection, shows the changes the Fire and Rescue Service has made to successfully respond to the pandemic. It highlights how staff have volunteered to support their communities through ambulance driving and face fit testing for personal protective equipment, as well as continuing to educate and prevent fires; whilst also dealing with the largest wildfire in living memory at Wareham Forest.
HMICFRS inspectors commented on the creative ways DWFRS continued to provide education to children and young people during 2020. This included online road safety education packages that received national attention and safety stories read by famous faces available on the Service’s YouTube channel.
Inspectors also noted the wellbeing support for staff put into place by the Service, including regular email communications, virtual meetings, flexible working arrangements (where possible) and management support. In total, the inspectors identified 66 areas of good practice, whilst highlighting two areas for focus.
Chief Fire Officer, Ben Ansell, said: “I am extremely pleased with the outcome of our inspection. Staff across the Service have, and continue, to work tirelessly to support our communities through the Coronavirus pandemic. We have seen all staff go above and beyond to help their communities, ensuring that we can still deliver our prevention, protection and emergency response functions. We have achieved this whilst also undertaking extraordinary roles to support our partners and, in particular, the NHS.
He added: “We are continually looking for further ways to support our communities at this time, and this is displayed in the ongoing work to support South Western Ambulance Service and our partners across our two local resilience forums. I am not surprised by the way staff responded to the pandemic, but I am always grateful to them for the work they do to support our communities across Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole, Dorset, Swindon and Wiltshire.”
Cllr Rebecca Knox, Chair of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority said: “I am delighted with the outcome of the HMICFRS COVID-19 Inspection. I am especially pleased that the inspectors recognised, that with changes to working arrangements, the positive working relationship between the Fire Authority, the Chief Fire Officer and the senior leadership team continued in a seamless manner. This meant that decisions that needed to be made were delivered in a timely and efficient way. We have been assured, throughout the pandemic, that the Service has adjusted to new ways of working to respond to the needs of our communities, as well as continuing to deliver our statutory duties. The Authority is impressed by the commitment of the Service to support staff and residents, and to keep them safe.”
HMICFRS conducted their virtual inspection of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service between 19 October and 30 October 2020.