Top marks for Shropshire Fire Service – yet again

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service appliances and crews attending an incident in the region

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has received yet another glowing report from the Government watchdog with top marks for performance.

It is among the best four performing fire services overall out of England's 47 brigades and one of only five improving at the highest possible level.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service received praise across the board for all its activities and was given top marks for its quality of service in the Audit Commission report out today.

Compared to other fire and rescue services, Shropshire was improving faster in its reduction of accidental house fires and injuries with a high level of prevention activity continuing to "significantly reduce risk" in rural communities.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service is highlighted in the report for reducing fire risk for businesses and residents. In 2008 fires in business properties reduced at a faster rate than in any other part of the country.

It was also praised for its road safety prevention work in successfully reducing annual motorcycle deaths from ten to zero with a targeted campaign in and around Bridgnorth.

The level of arson showed sustained improvement and the Authority is making an effective contribution to the wider community, improving access to services and its approach to equality and diversity.

Water and road safety were key focus areas with the Shropshire service responsive to the needs of the communities it serves due to improved partnership working at a county level, said the report.

Value for money was good and improving with the service exceeding its efficiency targets. There was a clear commitment to the regional management board and other partners to increase capacity, gain resources and better deliver organisational objectives.

Chief Fire Officer Alan Taylor said he was proud of yet another good report from the commission which showed that Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service was doing an excellent job for the people it served across the county.

"All our staff, both firefighters and service personnel, are committed to providing the best fire and rescue service for the people of Shropshire and this report proves that we are accomplishing that.

"Our aim is to continue to prevent fires and cut the number of road crashes, especially those involving young people."

Stuart West, chairman of the Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority said he was "absolutely delighted" at the "excellent" report findings.

"All credit to the staff and everyone who have worked in partnership with the fire authority to achieve this. This is good news for our county that we have one of the best performing fire services in the UK."

The report added that the county fire and rescue service was well positioned to make further improvements with strengthened corporate and financial planning across improvement priorities and improved financial capacity in operational preparedness.

It has an effective risk management policy and uses data to target community safety activity and ensure the appropriate response to incidents. The service is progressing a wide range of community safety initiatives with partners and has set challenging targets for improvement.

It has made significant investment in the retained service budget resulting in improvements for retained duty system staff leading to increases in community safety and training activity.

Call management was good with effective use of information and communication technology.

"Senior managers are committed to delivering an effective and efficient service. Overall the service is performing well with strong local political support and a clear focus on future service improvements," stated the audit commissioner.

12th February, 2009