NORTHUMBERLAND'S fire service has been showered with praise after its latest inspection report saw a marked improvement.

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) was rated as “good” or “adequate” in all categories by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). This marks a “significant improvement” on the last inspection, which was carried out in 2021.

In the latest report, inspector Michelle Skeer wrote that she was “pleased with the performance” of NFRS in “keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks”.

The report did identify some areas for improvement in order to “provide a consistently good service” but added that inspectors were “pleased to see that the service has made progress” since 2021.

Inspectors at the time told the service it “must do better” despite improvements from its first inspection in 2019. There was “more to do” to effectively prevent and respond to fires, which placed NFRS in the “requires improvement category”.

In 2018, the service was rated as “requires improvement” in all but one area. It means the latest inspection is the first time there have been no categories graded “requires improvement”.

Graeme Binning, chief fire officer, said: “I am incredibly proud to lead Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service. The outcome of this inspection clearly demonstrates the professionalism, dedication and hard work of everyone within the service, and it also reflects ever-strengthening relationships within Northumberland County Council.

“As a Service, we strive to continually improve, and this report indicates how much we have improved since 2018. Putting communities first is at the heart of what we do, and we will continue to focus on our vision of ‘Making Northumberland Safer’.”

The inspection, part of the third round of fire service inspections nationwide, covered all areas of the service provided by NFRS, including its emergency response, its support functions and its management of people. The report stated that NFRS responded to a total of 3,927 incidents in 2022.

Of those, 1,775 were fires (45 per cent) while 895 (23 per cent) were non-fire incidents and 1,257 (32 per cent) were false alarms.

Cllr Gordon Stewart, chairman of the fire authority and the council’s cabinet member for communities said: “This is a brilliant outcome and reflects the hard work, long-term commitment and efforts by everyone in our Fire and Rescue Service.

“Every member of staff has played their part in the ongoing improvements and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all those in Northumberland when I say how proud we are.”

The service was rated as good for the following categories:

  • Preventing fire and risk
  • Future affordability
  • Promoting values and culture
  • Right people, right skills

It was rated as adequate for these categories:

  • Understanding fire and risk
  • Public safety through fire regulation
  • Responding to fires and emergencies
  • Responding to major incidents
  • Best use of resources
  • Promoting fairness and diversity
  • Managing performance and developing leaders