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Publishing his first report as chief inspector of Fire ...
Publishing his first report as chief inspector of Fire

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

of women firefighters in England and Wales, the number of ethnic

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

in 1993

- 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.

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