HM Fire Service Inspectorate in Scotland: Chief Inspector's Plan 2022 to 2025
HM Fire Service Inspectorate in Scotland (HMFSI) exists to provide independent, risk-based and proportionate professional inspection of the SFRS. Its 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 Act, and are equally expected to act independently.
We have a statutory duty to co-operate and co-ordinate with the Auditor General. We also work with other Inspectorates and agencies across the public sector to share specific expertise and contribute to shared outcomes. We co-ordinate our activities to reduce the burden of inspection and avoid unnecessary duplication.
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 (RVDS). The remaining 21% are Wholetime crewed (this includes 23 Wholetime fire stations which also have a Retained capability). 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 to provide independent, risk-based and proportionate professional inspection of the SFRS. 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).
Since its formation, the SFRS has made significant progress in the harmonisation of working practices, policies and staff terms and conditions and this work is continuing. However, progress in relation to the next phase of transformation is being affected by continuing UK national discussions between employers and employee representative bodies regarding any expansion of the role of firefighters. HMFSI will continue to support the Service and Scottish Government, and will offer independent advice and scrutiny relative to transformation, as well as continuing with our programme of Thematic inspections and introducing our new Service Delivery Area Inspection regime.
The Inspectorate team is made up of the Chief Inspector, four Assistant Inspectors, one Inspection Manager and two Administrative Staff.
In addition to this core team of eight staff, HMFSI offers opportunities for members of SFRS to join the Inspectorate on secondment. On occasions, the Inspectorate calls upon subject matter experts to assist in Thematic reviews.
HMFSI's budget allocation is determined by Scottish Government. HMFSI also uses IT, Procurement and HR functions of the Scottish Government. As the main function of the Inspectorate is the scrutiny of the SFRS, our spend is based around providing the appropriate staffing and other resources needed to facilitate the inspections set out in our Inspection Plan. Our staffing roles are filled by both full-time and part-time workers. Under normal operating conditions the budget is usually split on an 80:20 basis (staff/running costs).
Our stated values are:
Integrity, Objectivity and Fairness.
- Integrity – putting the obligations of public service above the personal interests of inspections;
- Objectivity – basing our inspection conclusions and recommendations on rigorous, unbiased analysis of evidence;
- Fairness – in conducting our inspections, when interacting with members of the SFRS and relevant stakeholders, we do so in a way that would be considered reasonable and will not impose an unwarranted burden or adversely affect individuals.
In addition to our Values, our guiding principles are that our inspection work is proportionate, accountable and transparent. We will always act independently and publish impartial and objective reports. We will be accountable for what we do and will justify our actions and reports by evidence. We will ensure our scrutiny is proportionate and that, we only inspect what is necessary to achieve our statutory purpose.