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Greater Manchester one of the best performing Fire and Rescue Services in the country, report shows

  • GMFRS is most improved and one of best performing fire and rescue services in the country, as latest inspection report shows significant progress made
  • Inspectors find 10 areas of service rated ‘Good’ and praised action taken on culture, staff training and development, and prevention services
  • Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Chief Fire Officer hail hard work of GMFRS staff in driving improvements and making positive changes
  • Recognition comes after service named ‘Emergency Service of the Year’ amongst a haul of other accolades over the past 12 months

GREATER Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is now the most improved fire and rescue service and one of the best performing in the country, according to a new report. 

The latest inspection report from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) into GMFRS praises the significant progress made across the organisation to drive positive changes to operations and culture.

The report – published today (Friday 8 March) – examined 11 different areas across the service, ranging from the prevention of fires and protecting the public, to promoting the right culture and values and developing staff.

Ten of those 11 areas have now been rated ‘Good’ – signalling the substantial progress made since the first inspection in 2018, when only three areas of the service received that rating, and seven ‘required improvement’. Six areas have also been recognised by HMICFRS as demonstrating promising or innovative practice – more than any other service in the country so far.

These new ratings mean that GMFRS is not only the most improved fire and rescue service in the country, but one of the top performing across the board in this latest round of inspections.

The inspectors’ report praises the performance of GMFRS in keeping people safe and secure from fires and other risks and noted the “consistent progress made” since the previous inspection. They have commended the service’s understanding of the diverse risks of fires and other emergencies, the quality of its fire safety work, and the way it has improved different capabilities including its terror attack response capability.

It also praised how GMFRS has prioritised cultural improvements, putting culture and values at the heart of everything it does, driven by the creation of a ‘culture first’ board and staff sounding panel.

The report commends the multi award-winning service for the changes made, and inspectors say they are confident that the service will continue to progress and improve.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said:

“I am immensely proud to say that today, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service is one of the best performing fire and rescue services in the country.

“We know that the service of seven years ago has undergone fundamental change, and our Chief Fire Officer and his leadership team have relentlessly committed themselves to that mission. This report is a testament to their work, and to the tireless efforts of everyone within GMFRS to keep our city-region safe and deliver a modern, professional, inclusive service.

“Dave, his senior team, our firefighters and all of our support staff deserve every credit for the improvements they have driven. With their leadership, and the support and hard work of staff right across the service, GMFRS has turned a corner – and they will have our full backing as they continue on that path to even greater success.”

Chief Fire Officer Dave Russel said:

“Our service has been on a significant improvement journey since I joined in September 2020, and I am the first to admit that journey hasn’t always been easy. But we have always been open and honest about the challenges we have faced, and about our determination to tackle them head-on and change for the better.   

“This was our service’s third inspection in five years and the inspectors have been rigorous and fair in carrying out their work. I am pleased to say that we have already acted on the recommendations within this report, and I am confident that further progress will be reflected in our next inspection.

“Whilst we are delighted with this report, we are by no means complacent, and we know that improvement is a continuous journey. We will never rest on our laurels as a service, or shy away from defending our culture and values as we continue on that journey to ‘outstanding’. But today is a day when everyone in GMFRS can be proud of how far we’ve come together.”

Key successes and improvements highlighted in the inspectors’ report include:

  • Faster incident response times than the national average, and improvements on last year’s target response times.
  • All frontline fire engines fully equipped, and firefighters trained to respond to terrorist and mass casualty incidents.
  • Establishment of a Greater Manchester Water Safety Partnership to help prevent drownings.
  • Fire safety engagement with 8,419 businesses in 2022/23, covering 39,000 premises.
  • 23,889 Home Fire Safety Assessments carried out across Greater Manchester in 2022/23, compared with 7,851 in 2021/22, to help prevent fires in the home.
  • Innovations in technology, including new Mobile Data Terminals on fire engines to provide crews responding to incidents with detailed information.
  • The establishment of a Culture First Board led by independent co-chair, a Cultural Sounding Panel, and putting culture at the heart of the service.

The report comes just months after GMFRS was named ‘Emergency Service of the Year’ at the 2023 FIRE Magazine annual Excellence in Fire and Emergency Awards, along with awards for ‘Project of the Year’ for the adult fire-setters Atlas programme, and ‘Most Influential LGBTQ+ Individual’ for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Jax Effiong.

Also last year, GMFRS moved from 93rd to 50th position for leading LGBTQ+ inclusive employers and won a Gold Employer award from Stonewall; colleagues picked up NFCC awards in Protection and Prevention categories, including ‘Team Award’ for the Protection team.

Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Fire and Criminal Justice, Kate Green, said:

“Everyone at GMFRS should be incredibly proud of this report, and the story it tells of a service that has embedded professionalism, inclusivity, and integrity into all its work and put culture at the heart of everything it does.

“From his first day as Chief Fire Officer, Dave has put the highest priority on creating a positive and open culture, and one that is honest about where change is needed. It’s so encouraging to see that those efforts have been recognised by His Majesty’s Inspectorate, which has praised the effective and innovative work being carried out by teams across the service.

“That work continues every day, and our forthcoming Annual Delivery Plan will set out how GMFRS will carry on driving forward new projects throughout our city-region and keeping communities safe.”

Notes to Editors

  • The report from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMIFRS) is available here: Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service praised for good performance - His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (
  • The inspection (the third full inspection since 2018) took place in autumn 2023 and involved a team of six inspectors with a wealth of experience in fire and the public sector carrying out interviews, focus groups and stations visits, to measure GMFRS’s performance. A full staff survey was also carried out and more than 50 documents were provided to the inspectorate.
  • The headline ratings from GMFRS’s round one to three inspection reports are:
  • 2018/19 – 3 good, 7 requires improvement, 1 inadequate. 21 areas for improvement
  • 2021/22 – 6 good and 5 requires improvement. 16 areas for improvement
  • 2023/24 – 10 goods and 1 adequate. 2 areas for improvement
  • For further information about GMFRS, visit GMFRS website.

Article Published: 08/03/2024 09:45 AM