Excellent or bust? Following Kent Fire and Rescue Service's being graded excellent in the Fire CPA Chief Fire Officer Peter Coombs offers his opinion preparing for CPA, emphasising the importance of self-assessment and long-term corporate planning.(CPA Results)

ONE OF THE QUESTIONS THAT is often asked about CPA is, when do you start preparing? The answer is, as soon as possible. Fortunately, we were well prepared.

Five years ago when I took over as Chief Fire Officer in Kent and the new management team came together, I laid down a five-year plan, explicitly designed to get us in better shape, particularly on corporate and strategic issues. We started in years one and two on behaviour, respect and personal expectations, followed progressively by safety management and training.

In year three we addressed corporate issues of asset management and information management, and in year four we focused on reviewing how our ongoing community fire safety programme was affecting service delivery demand. A review of progress overall was planned for year five, but then CPA came along.

Looking back over the five years there were some stepping stones which clearly helped the CPA outcome. …

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