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Scilly's fire service rated 'good' for effectiveness

The Isles of Scilly Fire & Rescue Service has been rated 'Good' for Effectiveness and Efficiency following a visit from Her Majesty's Inspectorate this summer.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) is inspecting all 45 of England’s fire & rescue services for the first time, assessing and reporting on their efficiency, effectiveness and leadership.

However, the Inspectorate said that the islands' service 'requires improvement' in the area of looking after its people.

The overall summary said it is "pleased with most aspects of the performance of Scilly's Fire & Rescue Service in keeping people safe and secure. But it needs to make improvements in how it looks after its people to give a consistently good service.

"The service is effective at keeping people safe from fire and emergencies, although it should improve the way it protects the public through fire regulation. Positively, it understands the risks its communities face. And it is good at preventing and responding to fires and emergencies."

On efficiency, Scilly's service makes "good use of its resources but should make them more affordable" - a finding the Council described in a statement today as "extremely challenging given our tiny population base spread across five separate islands".

The inspectors noted several areas for improvement in the area of looking after its firefighters, a shortcoming common to most of the fire services inspected so far - these were promoting the right values and culture; getting the right people with the right skills; ensuring fairness and promoting diversity; and managing performance and developing leaders.

The Council said of this finding: "We’re working hard to ensure that the service makes substantial improvements in this area, including promoting a positive culture, skills, diversity and performance management. There is recognition from the HMICFRS that we are already improving in this area, through a training programme targeted to the needs of Isles of Scilly firefighters and the risks they face."

The report acknowledged that Scilly's fire service is continuing to improve the service, including the way it protects the public through fire regulation by delegating this function to Cornwall Fire & Rescue Service, who have the expertise and resources to undertake this specialist work.

The summary concluded: "We are encouraged by the positive aspects we have identified. We look forward to seeing more consistent performance over the coming year."

Cllr Steve Sims, the Council’s Lead Member for Place, said: “I am delighted at the findings of the inspection that has found our fire service to be both effective and efficient and recognises the commitment, dedication and skills of our community focused firefighters of which we should all be very proud.

"We will continue to make improvements even in these financially challenging times and recognise that the cost of providing such good services is more expensive than anywhere else in the country and not necessarily reflected within the current financial settlement.

"The cost of firefighters on the mainland varies between £16 and £32 per head of population - our service costs around £200 per head of population, reflecting our geographically isolated and tiny population spread across five islands that all need to be protected and kept safe.”

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