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22 January 2021

Inspectors praise Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service’s response to Covid-19 crisis

Cumbria County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service has been praised by government inspectors for supporting the people of Cumbria well during the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) carried out an inspection of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) to assess how the Service was performing during the Covid-19 crisis. The report is available to view here: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/publications/covid-19-inspection-cumbria-fire-and-rescue-service/.

HMICFRS concluded Cumbria FRS had adapted and responded “effectively” to the Covid-19 crisis. Cumbria FRS continued to respond to emergencies while demonstrating they were ready, willing and able to provide support to local communities through a number of additional activities.

Inspectors also noted that Cumbria Fire and Rescue staff, kitted out with personal protective equipment, continued to carry out safe and well visits to some of Cumbria’s most vulnerable people in their homes during the pandemic.

HMICFRS found that: 
  • Cumbria FRS managed resources well. As well as its own incidents, the Service was able to support neighbouring Services with significant incidents during the pandemic. 
  • Cumbria FRS communicated well, with good staff engagement including virtual online meetings and video blogs 
  • Good welfare support was provided to Cumbria FRS staff during the crisis 

Inspectors said it was a “notable achievement” that Cumbria FRS continued to run a wholetime firefighter recruitment process during the pandemic, using remote learning before safely bringing recruits together for more traditional training.

John Beard, Cumbria County Council’s Chief Fire Officer, said: “I welcome the HMICFRS inspection report for Cumbria which recognises the fantastic work of my colleagues to support our communities during the pandemic. I’m especially pleased the Inspectorate noted how quickly the Service adapted to new ways of working and took on a greater role in the community by supporting our other blue light services and partner agencies in Cumbria.”

Cllr Janet Willis, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Fire and Rescue, said: “The HMICFRS inspection report is a testament to how well Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service has risen to the challenge and how our staff have gone above and beyond to keep our communities safe during the pandemic. There is hardly a week goes by when I do not receive comments of praise and appreciation for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service from someone, whether that be their county council colleagues or members of the public.”
Cumbria’s Chief Fire Officer John Beard will be available for media interviews on Friday 22 January 2021 between 12 noon and 1pm. Journalists should call Adam Lewis on 01228 221008 to arrange an interview with John. 

The HMICFRS inspection of Cumbria FRS was carried out in August 2020. For more information about HMICFRS, go to https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/

HMICFRS recognise that the arrangements for managing the pandemic may carry on for some time, and that Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is now planning for the future. In order to be as efficient and effective as possible, HMICFRS said Cumbria Fire and Rescue should focus on the following areas: 
  • It should determine how it will adopt, for the longer term, the new and innovative ways of working introduced during the pandemic, to secure lasting improvements. 
  • It should identify those staff at higher risk from COVID-19, so it can put appropriate wellbeing and support provisions in place.
Inspectors praise Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service’s response to Covid-19 crisis