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IO6: Measuring benefits, evaluating activity


Evaluating activity

The fire and rescue service has been innovative in the way it is seeking to change its shape and purpose to match the changing environment that it is adapting to. The way that services are provided and their effectiveness in delivering value to the public needs to be more rigorously examined. This applies across the whole suite of its activities at all levels of the service. In future, the service needs to be able to more actively demonstrate the evidence that lies behind the value of its work.

HMICFRS Inspectors reported that there was little evidence of evaluation of protection and prevention activities within services. The innovation that is apparent in fire and rescue services often results in interesting partnerships with other organisations and ways to reach different at risk parts of communities. However, the value of the intervention is not supported by data nor evidence that suggests the use of resources is appropriate. 

In operational response, the inspectors found that while debriefing is the norm for fire and rescue services, it is often done at a local level and not disseminated more widely.  

One aspect that comes across strongly from the first two tranches of inspection reports is the lack of consistent data gathered by fire and rescue services in many areas of service delivery. When it comes to evaluation and measuring benefits, the paucity of data or more commonly the inconsistent gathering of data means it is impossible to make meaningful comparisons and establish benchmarks to determine improvement over time.  

This narrative clearly shows that pressure is going to increase on the capacity within fire and rescue services to deliver further improvement. Fire and rescue authorities are going to need to make choices and set priorities for the resources at their disposal. The benefits of each element of service delivery need to be determined and achievement against those benefits properly measured. In this way, a model of the value of those elements can be determined. This again leads to a need for proper evaluation models and appropriate and accurate data to populate them.