Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service says it is continuing to make significant improvements but recognises more needs to be done after the fire inspectorate found it had not made enough progress since its last inspection.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has graded Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service’s performance across 11 areas and found the service was ‘adequate’ in four areas, ‘requires improvement’ in six areas and ‘inadequate’ in one area.

HMICFRS said the service needed to improve how it ensures fairness and promotes diversity, particularly in ensuring it provides adequate facilities to maintain the dignity of its staff.

The service also needs to improve how it manages and looks after its people, and ensure it can improve and deliver change at a reasonable pace.


His Majesty’s Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services Wendy Williams said: “I have concerns about the performance of Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, particularly around how the service ensures fairness and promotes diversity.

“The service hasn’t made enough progress in providing suitable, gender-appropriate, welfare facilities for its staff at its fire stations. We also found several other areas where progress wasn’t as expected, including in how it manages and looks after its people.

“We recognise the service has faced challenges over recent years and acknowledge that one of our previous causes of concern has been discharged. And there is a clear commitment from staff and senior leaders to improve. However, many areas have deteriorated or remain unchanged.

“Given the nature of some of the problems we have identified, we will keep in close contact with the service to monitor its progress and revisit in six months to review its improvement plans.”

Cornwall’s Chief Fire Officer she welcomed the latest inspection report from the inspectorate and vowed to tackle the areas highlighted as requiring improvement.

Improvements made

Chief Fire Officer Kathryn Billing said the service is continuing to make significant improvements but recognises more needs to be done. 

She said: “We have come a long way since the previous reports and although there is still work to be done, I am really proud of my service and the progress made particularly during these challenging times with the fire sector under huge scrutiny.

“We are accelerating our culture reform work to ensure our people and our service is valued, respected and the best it can be for Cornwall. We are incredibly proud of our fire service, but we also recognise that there are areas where further improvements are needed, and we are committed to addressing those issues.”

Following the latest inspection, which was carried out in March 2023, the inspectors identified the category of ‘promoting fairness and diversity’ as inadequate.  It highlights the need for facilities and welfare arrangements at stations to be more inclusive of all genders.

CFO Billing said: “This is an area that we are working on. We have commitment from the council to support our improvement plans, this means we will be able to work with Council teams and our Private Finance Initiative partners to improve our facilities on stations for our firefighters.”

Confidence in service

Martyn Alvey, portfolio holder responsible for Public Protection at Cornwall Council, said: “This report highlights that we still have much to do, but I am pleased to see we are making progress in many areas previously highlighted as needing improvement.

“I have confidence in our Chief Fire Officer and her whole team, and we are all committed to ensuring the service can continue to make the improvements that are required to keep both our crews and our residents safe.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our firefighters for their hard work in striving for continuous improvement since the last inspection and for everything the service continues to do to protect and respond to our communities across Cornwall.”