“The people of Royal Berkshire can be confident that they are being well-served” - that’s the message from the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority (RBFA) after its fire service received a positive report from inspectors.

Berkshire’s fire and rescue service was assessed on its effectiveness, its efficiency and how well it looks after its staff and a report released today (Thursday, June 20) declared it ‘good’ in all three measures.

Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, Councillor Colin Dudley, said: “This rigorous inspection has provided us with a clear and independent view on how Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is performing and I am delighted that the Service has received a ‘good’ rating overall.

“I truly believe that Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service provides a fantastic service and these judgments are a reflection of the great work, dedication and commitment of the amazing staff who serve the people of Royal Berkshire.”

With 18 stations and 14 fire engines, RBFRS looks after 910,000 people across Berkshire.

According to national inspectors, the service gets called out for 3.9 false alarms per 1,000 people - something inspectors say the service should focus on preventing.

The service was praised for having a good understanding of the risks to the local area and for how well it responds to fires and other emergencies.

RBFRS was also commended for making good use of its resources, with £2.4 million expected to be saved by the end of the 2019/2020 financial year.

Reacting to the inspection report, Chairman Colin Dudley pointed out the average figure of £66 householders pay for their fire services represented “remarkable value for money”.

He added: “As a Fire Authority, we are determined to continue to provide a safe and efficient service, whilst balancing our budget in an increasingly volatile period for public finances.

“While we are very pleased with the report, we will not become complacent. We are committed to investing in and supporting the service to continue this journey of improvement. We must continue to work with central government for greater flexibility to increase council tax when setting our budget.

“I am confident that the residents of Royal Berkshire share my belief that an increase of 42 pence per month, or £5 per year, in council tax is a worthwhile investment to maintain the essential and lifesaving services of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.”

Inspectors also noted how the service “takes the wellbeing of its workforce seriously”, with counselling, a private healthcare scheme and trauma support offered to staff.

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A 2014 review highlighted a culture of bullying in the service and staff say they have been working to create an inclusive culture across the organisation since then.

However, the inspector’s report also highlighted how some staff used language which was not deemed inclusive and that handling of grievance cases was inconsistent.

But the service is said to have good arrangements in place to develop staff performance and a new action plan is set to look at increasing staff diversity.

Director at RBFRS, Nikki Richards, added: “We are really happy with the outcome of the Inspection. Staff across the service work incredibly hard and this is reflected in the report from the Inspectors. The report provides reassurance to our communities, but also recognition to our staff for their dedication and hard work in serving the people of Royal Berkshire.

“As a service, we will build on the strong foundations highlighted in the report. We are committed to providing the best service to our residents and this report is a testament to that.”