East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is being praised for its response to the Covid pandemic.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) was asked to carry out national inspections in August last year on behalf of the Home Secretary.
The findings were published in an open letter today (22 January 2021) and highlight the positive work which has been delivered. Read the letter here: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/publications/covid-19-inspection-east-sussex-fire-and-rescue-service/
The HMICFRS said the service “maintained its statutory functions and provided additional support to the community” adding that “Staff who weren’t able to perform their usual roles due to the impact of the pandemic were efficiently reallocated to appropriate roles in support of the community. This meant the people of East Sussex were well supported throughout the pandemic.”
Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker said:
“We are very pleased all the hard work of the service has been recognised by the HMICFRS. Our staff, particularly those in our Community Safety teams, have risen to the challenge, whether it was providing advice and guidance to the public on the beaches when lifeguards weren’t present or finding new ways of reaching people in their homes. We are keen to build on our achievements and continue to support local and national organisations more permanently.”
The inspection highlighted the positive collaborations with the police, ambulance service and the Local Resilience Forum, and improved data sharing arrangements which meant it could better identify and respond to people and property at higher risk.
The service’s work with national partners has also been recognised, particularly around concerns with the increase of commercial waste burning and domestic bonfires. This information contributed to waste sites being re-opened in East Sussex. At a national level, the experiences of the service as a coastal responder were shared with services directly.
There is praise too for the service’s unpaid community volunteers who started a befriending service, where they would telephone people who were vulnerable, checking whether they needed any support.
The HMICFRS has recognised that the service consider staff wellbeing a clear priority, identifying wellbeing problems, and responded to any concerns and further needs.
The service improved its existing IT. It transformed virtual platforms and remote/agile working, which will help it become more effective and efficient. Its work on the digitisation of information for young people includes the introduction and continuation of the fire cadet scheme. The HMICFRS described this scheme as “a notable achievement for the service”.