An external assessment of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has identified numerous examples of good and excellent practice in its operational response and prevention work to reduce fires.

The Local Government Association’s (LGA’s) Fire Peer Challenge, also known as the Operational Assessment Peer Challenge, was carried out by three senior fire officers including a Chief Fire Officer, Assistant Chief Fire Officer and a Deputy Chief Fire Officer, a police Superintendent and an experienced councillor over four days.

The detailed assessment covered seven key areas including prevention, protection and response along with community risk management and support services.

The Peer Challenge Team sited exemplars of notable practice in relation to the operational competence of firefighters and managers and the quality of 999 call handling and mobilising by MACC (Mobilising And Communications Centre) staff. The report also pointed to similar high levels of performance in the fire and rescue service’s intervention activities from “prevention and protection” and support service staff.

Overall, the organisation was seen to have strong leadership which had a good relationship with staff and representative bodies. There was also found to be clear, consistent and effective communication.

The Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority has now published the Operational Assessment report.

The Executive Summary of the report states: “MFRS is in a strong position to meet the financial challenges for the future. It has credible political and managerial leadership, a loyal, committed and motivated workforce and a very strong track record in service delivery. The new mission statement ‘safer stronger communities – safe effective fire fighters’ is understood and owned by everyone who contributed to the assessment. Importantly, it has provided a new sense of clarity and purpose which staff can unite behind. Operational competence and focus on response is very strong.”

“The challenge team saw excellent processes for assessment, monitoring and debriefs ensuring on-going learning from incidents,” it added.

The summary also said: “Prevention is intelligence-led with a good balance between the central team and now a greater devolved responsibility for the delivery of community safety activities to district and station managers. This has enabled staff locally to better use the knowledge of their community and provides them with greater ownership over activities locally. Partnership working is exemplar at both strategic and operational levels and the team saw many excellent examples of this. Partners enjoy and respect MFRS as a partner and praise its ‘can-do’ attitude and its responsiveness. There is a high awareness of the Service’s diverse community and the challenge team saw some good examples of the use of equality impact assessments.”

Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens said: “The Peer Challenge was very helpful indeed in confirming the legitimacy of our thinking around how we redesign our service to meet the financial challenge over the course of this and the next spending review. The Peer Challenge team also highlighted a number of areas to explore which will give us the opportunity to drive further improvement through our performance management processes.”

The Operational Assessment Peer Challenge visit took place in November last year. The Peer Challenge team looked at all aspects of the way in which the Authority delivers its services. The resulting report recognised the contributions of the staff, management and Elected Members of the Authority and the visiting team were impressed by the commitment shown, as well as the results achieved.