Services, Graham Meldrum, expressed disappointment that there had not
been an increase in firefighters from ethnic minority groups.
Although the report showed an encouraging 7% increase in the number
minority firefighters had declined slightly (by 0.64%) on 1997
Following the home secretary's recent comments at the Black Police
Association Mr Meldrum promised action, saying:
'It is disappointing to note that there has not been an increase in
the number of firefighters from ethnic minority groups. This subject
will be addressed next year in our first thematic inspection on equal
opportunities. In taking this forward, we have been mindful of the
comments made by the home secretary on this important issue.'
Mr Meldrum also highlighted the reorganisation of the Fire Service
Inspectorate following a review he instigated in January.
'I am confident that the reorganised inspectorate, which will begin
its new-style inspections in January next year, will be better placed
to provide advice to the fire service in line with important current
initiatives such as best value, and community fire safety, health and
safety issues and improving equal opportunities.'
The chief inspector's report also shows:
- At January 1998, there were 33,636 full time and 14,602 retained
firefighters in England and Wales
- In 1997 the number of fires attended by brigades was 11% fewer than
- The total number of incidents attended fell for the second
successive year by 7% to just under one million
- For the fifth year running, malicious false alarms (those that fire
brigades thought were knowingly given) fell to 88,800, from 132,700
- The fire service share of total local authority spending in England
and Wales in 1997/98 was£1,307m,£55m (4.4%) more than for the previous year. The settlement for 1998/99 has provided for an increase of£65m (5%)
Concluding, Mr Meldrum said:
'I consider that after 35 years' service I know the fire service
well. I know that the people in the service wish to do their best to
ensure that it succeeds in its task of saving life and property from
fire. I believe that it is the role of the inspectorate to assist
them in achieving our shared goal of making the community safer from
1. Copies of the report are available from the Stationery Office Ltd, telephone orders 0345 023474.
2. The Culture and Organisation Review Project team - known as CORP -
was set up by Graham Meldrum soon after he took up office as chief
inspector. The review reported on 9 September. The review team was
made up of members of the fire service, members of the fire service
inspectorate and two academics. It has led to changes in the way
inspections are to be carried out and reported, and a new structure
for the inspectorate aimed at meeting modern needs.