East Sussex fire crews praised for their work through Covid

The fire service for East Sussex has received positive feedback from a national inspection.
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Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) carried out a inspection last year and East Sussex Fire & Rescue has been highlighted for its work through the pandemic.

The results of the inspection were published in a letter today (January 22).

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The inspectors said the service ‘maintained its statutory functions and provided additional support to the community’.

Dawn WhittakerDawn Whittaker
Dawn Whittaker

The letter said, “Staff who weren’t able to perform their usual roles due to the impact of the pandemic were efficiently reallocated to appropriate roles in support of the community. This meant the people of East Sussex were well supported throughout the pandemic.”

The inspection also highlighted the positive collaborations with the police, ambulance service and the Local Resilience Forum. Improved data sharing arrangements means the services can quickly identify and respond to people and property at higher risk.

The fire service’s work with national partners was also recognised, particularly around concerns with the increase in commercial waste burning and domestic bonfires. This information resulted in waste sites being reopened in East Sussex.

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There was also praise for the service’s unpaid community volunteers who started a service where they telephone vulnerable people to check whether they needed any support.

The HMICFRS inspection results recognised that the service makes staff wellbeing a clear priority, identifying wellbeing problems and responding to any concerns and further needs.

The service improved its existing IT system - transforming virtual platforms and remote work to help it become more effective and efficient.

Its work on the digitisation of information for young people includes the introduction and continuation of the fire cadet scheme. The letter described this scheme as ‘a notable achievement for the service’.

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Dawn Whittaker, chief fire officer, said, “We are very pleased all the hard work of the service has been recognised by the HMICFRS. Our staff, particularly those in our community safety teams, have risen to the challenge whether it was providing advice and guidance to the public on the beaches when lifeguards weren’t present or finding new ways of reaching people in their homes.

“We are keen to build on our achievements and continue to support local and national organisations more permanently.”