Essex’s fire and rescue service has been told it must improve with some areas of the service “falling short”, a new report has found.

The fire service was inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.

Inspector Roy Wilsher found effectiveness, efficiency and looking after its people all required improvement.

The only area where the service received a good rating was in understanding fires and other risks.

Mr Wilsher said some improvements had been made since the last inspection in 2019 but said areas were still “falling short”.

He found the service still didn’t have enough trained specialist staff to carry out fire safety audits of its highest-risk premises.

The report said only staff at a few locations are trained and able to respond to terrorist attack-type incidents despite all emergency responders potentially being required to attend this type of incident.

It added this meant public safety could be compromised.

The inspection found the service had responded “positively and proactively” to learning from the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

However concerns were raised about “insufficient resources” to carry out its risk-based inspection service across Essex.

Inspectors told the service it must develop and implement a clear strategy by the end of November.

The inspection also found the service must address its anticipated £4million budget shortfall with the use of reserves described as “not sustainable.”

It found the culture of the service had improved since 2019 with senior leaders now more visible.

But the report said more needed to be done to increase diversity within its workforce. It added leaders need to do more to tackle bullying, harassment and discrimination.

Mr Wilsher said: “Since our 2019 inspection, it has shown improvements in learning from operational activity, improving its culture and adopting service values, and providing out-of-hours support for technical fire safety advice. However, there are other areas where the service is falling short.

“In 2019, we issued a cause of concern on the service’s use of resources and how they align to risk across prevention, protection and response.

“Unfortunately, despite some work in this area, this cause of concern remains. The service isn’t meeting its own prevention and protection strategies, nor its own response standards. I’m disappointed to see station-based staff are not routinely involved in prevention work. There is still much to do to improve.”

Fire boss admits 'still a long way to go' 

A LEADING firefighter says he is pleased with the work undertaken by the service but conceded there was “still have a long way to go.”

Rick Hylton, chief fire officer and chief executive of Essex Fire and Rescue Service, said he was very proud of his team following the publishing of the report.

He said: “This report doesn’t contain any surprises for us.

We want to become the best fire and rescue service in the country and we know that there is a lot for us to do to get there.

“We already have plans in place to cover the areas for improvement highlighted in this report.

“We have made progress since this inspection took place and we know what we need to do.”

“I’m proud of my team. Every single one of us works hard every day to make Essex a safer place for everyone to live work and travel and we are all committed to improvement.

“You only have to look at how we have responded as a service to the many incidents caused by the recent heatwave, and the support the public has given us, to know we are on the right path.”

One area highlighted in the report is the service’s improvement in how it promotes the right values and culture to its people.

This was graded as inadequate in a previous inspection, it is now rated as requires improvement.

Mr Hylton added: “We still have a long way to go but I’m pleased that the work we are doing to embed and promote the right values and culture has been recognised by the inspectors.”

To read the report, which was published today, visit