Bedfordshire discharged of its cause of concern

THE HMICFRS inspectorate has today (19 Jan) discharged its cause of concern following its visit in 2023.

In a letter to the Service, which has been published this morning, Roy Wilsher OBE QFSM His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services states: “During our revisit, we were pleased to see the significant efforts Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has made in response to the cause of concern. It has improved the way in which it assures itself that operational members of staff meet the minimum fitness requirements to perform their role. We recognise the considerable work that the service has carried out to improve. As a result, we now consider this cause of concern to be discharged.”

During the visit that took place earlier in February last year, a cause of concern was identified that stated: “Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service cannot assure itself that operational members of staff meet the minimum fitness requirements to perform their role”.

CFO Andy Hopkinson said: “We are committed to firefighter fitness and are happy the Inspectorate has the reassurance needed to discharge the cause of concern.

“The HMICFRS report from last year highlights the hard work and dedication of our staff and collaborative work with partners to improve the Service and we must not forget this. We set high standards for ourselves because we want the best for the public we serve and firefighter fitness continues to be one of these things.

“We will continue to aim high, look after our colleagues and transform to keep pace with the changing county of Bedfordshire.”

At the time of the publication of Bedfordshire FRS HMICFRS report in August 2023, more than 95 per cent of operational staff had passed the annual fitness test, and the backlog that was present when the HMICFRS visited had been cleared.

The Service fulfilled the HMICFRS request to provide an action plan that detailed how it intended to make sure all staff meet the minimum fitness requirements, and a follow up inspection looking specifically at this area took place in November 2023.

In the open letter, it states: “The service has made good progress against its action plan, supported by senior leadership.”

The Inspectorate also heard on its return visit in November that the Service has recently approved a paper that proposes to re-introduce the physical training instructor role on each fire station, making the Service’s plans more resilient and robust.

The next HMICFRS inspection is anticipated to take place in 2025.

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