Rebuilding the Fire and Rescue Services

Cover of Rebuilding the Fire and Rescue Services

Policy, Delivery and Assurance



Table of contents

(8 chapters)

Theresa May in one of her final speeches as Home Secretary before becoming prime minister, laid bare what she considered to be the major inadequacies in the performance management regime for fire and rescue services. ‘There's no independent inspectorate; no regular audit of performance; and only limited available data on performance over time or between areas’. Based on her earlier reforms to the police she therefore proposed a series of reforms that have now been implemented. This chapter introduces her reform agenda and its antecedents. It also makes explicit the assumptions upon which the authors build their evaluation of the relevant reforms.


Performance regimes attempt to bring policy development, service delivery and public assurance into a mutually supportive, coherent and joined-up approach. This chapter sets out a dynamic conceptual model that illustrates how the different parts of performance regimes are configured and how the individual parts interrelate with each other. It identifies the activities relevant to the three core domains of policy development, service delivery and public assurance and shows how they relate to situational and contextual factors, as well as the principle values and behaviour by which public service is conducted in the United Kingdom. This model forms the basis for the evaluations of the specific reforms in the following three chapters.


The UK has been a pioneer and international leader in the development of fire and rescue services and this has been based on a long attachment and strong adherence to empirical evidence at both the local and national levels. Policy makers, in close collaboration with practitioners, have also developed standards and practices and any changes have traditionally needed robust justification. Yet the evidence base and the tools and techniques for investigating and interrogating the evidence base have been significantly deteriorating over the last 10 years. This chapter sets out what is inadequate, what is missing and suggests what needs to be done about it.


This chapter investigates the history, antecedents and drivers for the latest Fire and Rescue National Framework for England, published in 2018. It reviews the previous five national frameworks published since the first was introduced in 2004 and evaluates them against the model outline in Chapter 2. The authors suggest that that political expediency and speed of delivery have played a greater role in their development than improving services, increasing public safety and providing assurance to the public. It therefore highlights some key areas for improvement in both the national framework and in its implementation.


This chapter reviews the new inspectorate, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, and the new Inspection Framework for Fire and Rescue Services in England. It will look at the antecedents of the inspectorate and the history of inspections in both the police and in the fire and rescue services. Prior to the Policing and Crime Act 2017, Fire and Rescue Services in England were without a dedicated independent inspectorate for almost 10 years and the government promised a new independent and a rigorous inspection regime. This chapter critically evaluates the government's response and the early development of the new regime.


The final chapter summarises the conclusions from chapters three to five. Fire and rescue services are currently having to contend with a data-poor operating environment (Chapter 3); an inadequate national framework, which has eschewed some of the lessons from previous frameworks (Chapter 4), and a new inspectorate and inspections regime that are at best, at an early stage of development (Chapter 5). Theresa May's vision of a new and revitalised performance management regime based on better data, a renewed purpose, with improved governance and accountability has been severely damaged and tarnished in the course of implementation. The authors suggest what the government needs to do to get back on track.

Cover of Rebuilding the Fire and Rescue Services
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