When an inspector calls: as the Fire Service Inspectorate teeters on the brink of extinction, FIRE investigates the role of the 'Advisor' and how the Service can best use the expertise within. However, given the recent departmental reshuffle, will this crucial driver for modernisation be put on the back burner?(Advisory Role)

IN MUCH AS THE SAME MANNER as their Majesties reviewed the Home Fleet and watched the trooping of the colours, the periodic inspection of a fire and rescue services by 'Her Majesties Inspector' was always seen as an occasion to show off the Service, to spruce up the fire engines and to practice endlessly to perfection a generally improbable fire scenario involving several rescues, massed jets and post Riverdale attendances.

As with most things, events and time have overtaken the traditional role of all aspects of the Fire and Rescue Service and the HMFSI is no exception. The once, almost cosy relationship between inspectors and the Service is being overhauled and although the future direction of the Inspectorate's role is not yet certain, the potential exists for providing even greater strategic Leadership for the Service as it heads into an ever-changing and uncertain future.

Service Direction

The lack of an effective robust approach to the overall direction of the Service in the UK and of what may be called a national performance management system had led to mounting concerns which came to a head during the national dispute.

Modernisation means different things to different people and the Fire Service Inspectorate is no exception. The 'Bain Report' identified that the Inspectorate should become an engine for change, 'driving through the reforms', he proposed. One of the problems he identified with the system then in place was the routine work of inspection they carried out, activities better carried out by other bodies including the Audit Commission. …

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