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Positive assessment of Island's Fire and Rescue Service 5 October 2007

THE Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service has received a positive assessment by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate (HMI).

Inspectors visiting the Island in April this year were impressed by the ‘exceptional’ flexibility of the workforce and the ‘invaluable asset’ of the TETRA radio network for the Emergency Services.

Concluding that the Fire Service was ‘improving with some reservations’ the HMI report outlines the strengths, challenges and areas for continuous improvement. It found the IoM Fire and Rescue Service was ‘a generally well managed and dedicated public service’ but recommended a strategic 10 year plan be developed to enable further reform and improved service delivery into the future, without compromising the many strengths of the service such as staff flexibility and high morale.

Home Affairs Minister Martyn Quayle MHK welcomed the report. He said:

‘It’s a very positive report and the Isle of Man should feel pride in its Fire and Rescue Service. The report does highlight areas for improvement and the Department will be looking at those areas with the Chief Fire Officer in the very near future. Overall the extremely positive summary by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate is just reward for the excellent efforts of everyone serving in the Island’s Fire and Rescue Service, and I would like to thank them publicly for contributing to this positive assessment.’

Chief Fire Officer Brian Draper and recently retired Deputy Chief Bruce Kirkham were praised for their progress in improving the culture of the Service. The report suggests that the Service’s Integrated Risk Management Plans required more detail but praised external consultation on the plan which resulted in the Service becoming a member of the Eastern District Neighbourhood Partnership, which includes a number of Government agencies working with and alongside their local authority partners to enhance community safety.

The Service’s vehicle replacement programme was commended along with its involvement in road traffic collision reduction.

Constructive criticisms included noting that Fire Service premises require upgrading and suggesting the provision of an on-Island fire training unit. The report also points out that not all staff had up-to-date contracts and that more succession planning is required to guarantee service continuity into the future when a considerable percentage of the workforce is due to retire.

Jeff Ord, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services for Scotland carried out the inspection of the Island’s Service in April this year. He said:

‘What impressed me and my team is the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service’s flexibility within the workforce – to a level that the majority of UK Services are striving to achieve. It’s already here because of the Island’s can-do, needs must attitude. I was also struck by the staff’s commitment and the way they made us extremely welcome. The culture is very welcoming so when they are able to diversify the workforce that will be a very easy nut to crack in this climate.
‘Also impressive is the very professional relationship between the Fire and Rescue Service and the Department, a supportive relationship evidenced by the rolling programme of fleet replacement and IT. The challenges that we identified were not unknown to the Chief Fire Officer or the Department but the inspection confirmed what needs to be addressed, and there are signs things are already beginning to happen. The recommendations aim to take the Service forward from what is already a good platform. It is a public service in excellent shape and the public should have confidence in that,’ Mr Ord added.

The full HMI report can be found online at: www.gov.im/dha/fire/

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