Refreshing the fire peer challenge approach


In 2013, the LGA and CFOA commissioned Cardiff Business School to carry out an independent evaluation of the Operational Assessment and Fire Peer Challenge programme. The outcomes from the evaluation were reported in March 2014.

The messages were positive and the evaluation demonstrated the process is highly valued by the sector. It was reported that the Operational Assessment and Fire Peer Challenge:

  • provides a structured and consistent basis to drive continuous improvement
  • provides councillors and chief officers with information that allows them to challenge their operational service delivery to ensure it is efficient, effective and robust
  • is an effective way of ensuring the sector as a whole improves
  • is a transparent mechanism for providing challenge to Fire and Rescue Services
  • acts as a robust mechanism for providing challenge to the sector.

The programme has also brought wider benefits. Peers emphasise the value of the process for their own personal learning and development. Many have described the peer experience as ‘a great development opportunity' and one that helps to them reflect on their own services' practice.

The report made useful recommendations on how the process can be further improved: read the full evaluation report.

A joint LGA and CFOA working group has recently refreshed the Operational Assessment and Fire Peer Challenge approach, taking in to account various sources of learning and feedback, including a full evaluation, in order to ensure they remain relevant and aligned to the needs of the sector.

The following provides a summary of the main changes to the approach:

Operational assessment

  • Inclusion of a separate section on Preparedness based on the importance of this in the national agenda, including Fire Framework.
  • Strengthening the focus on organisational effectiveness and the management of change.
  • Integration of Mobilising and Control into the wider theme of Response.>
  • Updating the briefing sheets to take account of key operational developments e.g. an additional focus on balancing enforcement and support in Protection.
  • The introduction of key reference documents within the Briefing Sheets; these include key CFOA strategies and other national guidance.
  • Strengthening the emphasis on Welfare in Health and Safety.
  • Building an emphasis on the use of data into each of the key assessment areas.

Fire peer challenge

  • Delivering an increased focus on:
    • leadership, governance, corporate capacity, financial planning and outcomes for communities
    • the specific priorities and challenges being faced locally
    • gathering and sharing notable practice.
  • a more flexible approach to on-site activity and follow-up
  • the opportunity to involve peers from other sectors as appropriate.

Further information

If you are interested in your Fire and Rescue Authority commissioning a Fire Peer Challenge, please contact your regional Principal Adviser.

If you would like to discuss the Operational Assessment and Fire Peer Challenge process, please contact:

Joy Brindle, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service
E-mail: joy.brindle@twfire.gov.uk
Telephone: 0191 444 1601