What we do
HM Fire Service Inspectorate in Scotland (HMFSI) exists to provide independent, risk-based and proportionate professional inspection of the SFRS. Our purpose is to give assurance to the public and to Scottish Ministers that the SFRS is working in an efficient and effective way, and to promote continuous improvement. We also provide independent, professional advice to Scottish Ministers and have functions in relation to non-domestic fire safety.
The statutory basis for the Inspectorate is derived from sections 43A to 43G of the Act. HM Chief Inspector is appointed by an Order in Council and operates independently of Scottish Ministers and the SFRS. Assistant Inspectors are appointed under Ministerial powers contained in the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, and are equally expected to act independently.
We have a statutory duty to co-operate and co-ordinate with the Auditor General. Our complementary relationship is supported by a Memorandum of Understanding with Audit Scotland, and with other Inspectorates and agencies across the public sector to share specific expertise or, where appropriate, jointly examine important areas where the SFRS works in partnership and contributes to shared outcomes. HMFSI and Audit Scotland are members of the Strategic Scrutiny Group (SSG) which is chaired by the Accounts Commission. The SSG is comprised of Scotland’s main public sector scrutiny bodies, and seeks to support the delivery of better coordinated, more proportionate and risk-based scrutiny, predominately at a local authority level. We co-ordinate our activities to reduce the burden of inspection and avoid unnecessary duplication.
Exclusive focus on Scotland’s fire service
The SFRS is the UK’s largest fire and rescue service and one of the largest of its kind in the world. The Service was formed on 1 April 2013 when the eight legacy services that had existed in Scotland since 1975 were amalgamated. The SFRS has 357 fire stations. Approximately 79% of these are crewed predominately by firefighters working either the Retained or Volunteer Duty Systems (On-Call). The remaining 21% are Wholetime crewed (this includes 23 fire stations which have both Wholetime and On-Call resources available). As at 31 August 2021 the SFRS had a total workforce of 7,831; of these 3,584 are Wholetime firefighters with 2,872 RVDS firefighters making up the next largest group.
The legislation that led to the creation of the SFRS, the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012, also enabled the change to the scrutiny role of HMFSI. Unlike the equivalent organisation for England, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), HMFSI has an exclusive focus on fire service matters in Scotland. There is a separate scrutiny body for police matters, HM Inspectorate for Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS).
- Our scrutiny - the details of our key responsibilities
- Our history - highlights of the past 75 years and list of previous Chief Inspectors