Chief Fire Office and Deputy Mayor respond to HMICFRS inspection report

Dave Russel, Chief Fire Officer for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), and Bev Hughes, Greater Manchester's Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, have each responded to '2021/22: An inspection of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service', a report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

GMFRS CFO Dave Russel said: “GMFRS accepts this fair and detailed report from HMICFRS, which shows we are an evolving and improving emergency service.

“But there is a contradiction between the contents of the report itself and how it has been presented to the public. It has been stated that the Inspectorate has identified concerns regarding ‘the service’s ability to respond to major incidents’. In fact, the report praises GMFRS as being ‘well prepared for major and multi-agency incidents’ and that these plans are ‘well understood by staff’.

"HMICFRS goes on to acknowledge that here in Greater Manchester we have our ‘own specialist Marauding Terrorist Attack (MTA) response’ capability, which is an important part of this city-region’s emergency services picture.

“To further reassure the public, in October we submitted a business case and implementation plan with associated governance on creating a permanent MTA capability to the Inspectorate. In recent weeks we have made further progress following positive discussions with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). While those discussions are ongoing, we are confident they will deliver a positive outcome that will significantly improve the Service’s capacity and capability to respond to a terrorist incident.

“I am pleased that the Inspectorate recognises the major step forward GMFRS has taken in terms of how, according to the report, ‘the service is good at looking after its staff’ and ‘good at promoting its values’. We are now graded Good in this area, including promoting diversity, which has improved from a rating of ‘Inadequate’ in 2019. The report also recognises the changes we have made in terms of our leadership and culture and we know what needs to be done to improve this even further.

“Overall, this inspection report shows we are a Fire and Rescue Service improving at pace. Keeping the people of Greater Manchester safe is our most important job and the public should be reassured that the Inspectorate concludes that GMFRS is Good at ‘understanding fires and other risks’, Good at ‘responding to fires and other emergencies’ and has clear ‘arrangements in place to respond to major and multi-agency incidents’.”

Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes added: “We welcome the Inspectorate’s findings detailed in today’s report. However, the way HMICFRS has presented the report to the public today is not an accurate reflection of its own findings. The Inspectorate's report praises those GMFRS arrangements ‘in place to respond to emergencies with other partners’ which are ‘well understood by staff’ – in contrast to the Inspectorate’s assertion in a press release that GMFRS’s ‘ability to respond to major incidents’ is concerning.

“This disconnect between what the inspection report says versus how the Inspectorate has chosen to present its findings does GMFRS, its hardworking staff and the Greater Manchester public a disservice. The Chief Fire Officer and his new leadership team have been working hard for the past year to ensure Greater Manchester has an effective Marauding Terrorist Attack (MTA) capability and significant progress has been made – we now have trained teams ready to respond across Greater Manchester and discussions with the FBU in relation to this are ongoing.

“The people of Greater Manchester should be reassured to know that HMICFRS finds that GMFRS ‘has effective means of declaring a major incident, and of responding to such incidents’ – it is a shame the Inspectorate appears to have disregarded this and similar findings in its own press release.

“To have an effective Fire and Rescue Service you first need the best staff in the right roles delivering a service to the best of their ability. I am pleased that since CFO Russel joined GMFRS just over a year ago, we’ve seen a positive shift in our Service in terms of leadership and culture, which is recognised by today’s report. GMFRS is a good employer full of hardworking people, and increasingly we represent the diverse communities present across all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs.”

15/12/2021 11:28 AM