INSPECTORS have praised the progress made by Essex Fire Service after it was found to have “insufficient resources” to help people understand fire safety risks.

His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) identified the issue during an inspection in 2019, finding the service could not meet its risk-based inspection programme.

The watchdog said the issue had not been “fully” addressed following a further inspection in 2021, but found progress had been made during a visit in January this year.

The HMICFRS’s ‘cause of concern’ found: “It is currently not meeting its targets.

“As a result, partially skilled operational staff are carrying out high-risk visits, although the service acknowledges that these are not audits.

“There is an absence of quality assurance of audits and visits.

“There is a low amount of enforcement activity.

“There is limited proactive engagement with businesses to promote fire safety.”

Gazette: Essex Fire and Rescue Service faced a third inspection since 2019Essex Fire and Rescue Service faced a third inspection since 2019 (Image: Essex Fire & Rescue Service)

It called on the service to develop a “clear strategy” for ensuring compliance with fire safety.

It added: “This should include ensuring it has appropriately trained resources, a consistent use of enforcement powers; and a mechanism to assure itself on the quality of its inspections.”

The latest inspection found improvements have been made, “specifically in developing a clear strategy and reviewing the risk-based inspection programme”.

The watchdog called on the service to continue working on ensuring it has enough “appropriately trained” inspectors.

It further urged bosses to improve the service’s “proactive engagement” with businesses.

The HMICFRS added: “We found the service committed to making the changes necessary to ensure that the public is protected through fire regulation, but there is more work to do.”

Dave Bond, Essex Fire Service's head of protection, said: “We are pleased HMICFRS recognises the progress we’ve made and it’s thanks to the incredible dedication of our team that we have made so many positive changes and improvements to the service we offer.

“I am proud of the work we have done and the direction we are moving in to address the areas of concern identified by HMICFRS.

“We acknowledge that there is still more work to do, and we are absolutely committed to making even more significant progress over the next few years to continue to protect our communities and keep them safe."

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