London Fire Brigade branded 'worryingly inadequate'

17 December 2019, 09:02

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Inspectors have hit out at London Fire Brigade with a report branding the service "worryingly inadequate" at "getting the right people with the right skills."

After HM Inspector of Constabulary and HM Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services issued a scathing report into the London Fire Brigade, inspector Matt Parr spoke to LBC.

Inspector Parr said London Fire Brigade need to do "quite a lot" to put their house in order, he said the "worrying thing" was the Grenfell Tower Inquiry had highlighted similar issues to his inspection.

"It's about training, it's about learning, it's really about the way the whole organisation's run," he said.

The Inspector said he was "really pleased" at the news Andy Roe would be taking over from Dany Cotton as the Commissioner of the brigade.

The watchdog's report found that when it comes to driving fire engines in an emergency, "some staff have had no continuing training in these skills for many years."

Mr Parr said when it comes to driving "there are people driving these big fire engines around London, national guidance says they should do refresher training every five years. Our inspection found lots of people that hadn't done any for 20 years."

He said the brigade was "not a value for money-driven organisation."

Hitting out at incident commanders he said the training "doesn't fill us with confidence," adding "they have this tendency not to use their initiative when other fire and rescue services do so much much more."

"London Fire Brigade is the only one in the country that doesn't follow, what's called, National Operational Guidance, on how to deal with certain incidents, there's a London way of doing it, then there's the rest of the country and I just don't think that's justified," the fire inspector said.

Watch the whole exchange in the video at the top of the page.

The report said LFB attend too many false alarms
The report said LFB attend too many false alarms. Picture: PA

The latest investigation, which analyses performance across one-third of the country's 45 fire services at a time, also found Essex and Gloucestershire were underperforming in terms of the effectiveness and efficiency of its service, as well as how it treats its people.

Six of the 15 fire services were deemed "good" in all three areas: Cleveland, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.

The LFB's assessment identified areas of strength, such as being well-resourced with staff and exceeding its own standards on response times.

The report also found Essex and Gloucestershire were underperforming in terms of the effectiveness and efficiency of its service, as well as how it treats its people
The report also found Essex and Gloucestershire were underperforming in terms of the effectiveness and efficiency of its service, as well as how it treats its people. Picture: PA

But the report was particularly scathing of its current effectiveness for protecting the public through fire regulation, how it uses its resources, and said it is "worryingly inadequate" at "getting the right people with the right skills".

In a response to the HMICFRS, incoming Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said: “We welcome our first report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and accept their recommendations. I recognise that what’s been highlighted in the report isn’t good enough and as the new Commissioner I am committed to making the necessary improvements when I take on the position in January.

“We are already delivering some of the key improvements they have highlighted and doing everything we can to provide the best possible service to the people of London and keep them safe.

“Training our staff is a priority and we are heavily investing to make sure our firefighters have the right skills to carry out their roles effectively. We have introduced new courses, additional exercises, annual assessments for our Incident Commanders and refresher training for all of our Control staff and drivers. We are also planning a new high tech training centre in Croydon, which will include a new Real Fire Training Venue.

“We learn from every incident we attend and have introduced a range of new procedures and equipment, especially since the Grenfell Tower fire. These include fire escape hoods, drones and new technology in our Control centres.

“All of our staff are dedicated to keeping Londoners safe and they are out in the community every day saving lies. We are committed to improving how we do things and to providing the best service we can to the people of London.”

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