MERSEYSIDE Fire & Rescue Service has been rated 'outstanding' for 'innovative and targeted prevention work' and response to national incidents.

It follows an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), who considered how effective and effective firefighters were in keeping people safe from fire and other risks and how well they look after their people.

Chief fire officer Phil Garrigan, said: "This is an excellent result and I am very pleased that Her Majesty's Inspectorate saw the same dedication and professionalism I see every day in our people; irrespective of the role they fulfil they go above and beyond to protect our communities."

The inspection found that over a 12-month period, the service carried out 37.1 home fire safety checks per 1,000 population, many more than the national average of 10.4.

The service attended 16,503 incidents, 46% of those being fires, 21% non-fire incidents and 33% false alarms and exceeded its own target of attending all life risk incidents within 10 minutes on 90% of occasions (actually 92.3%) with an average response to primary fires of just seven minutes and 29 seconds.

Inspectors also found that the work undertaken to prevent fires has resulted in the lowest number of fire deaths on record.

They also praised the excellent provisions made to ensure staff have access to a broad range of wellbeing initiatives including mental health first aid, voluntary health screening and swift access to medical support.

The service was judged as 'requires improvement' in one area, related to fairness and promoting diversity.

AN MFRS spokesman said the chief fire officer and senior team are exploring opportunities to secure improvements in the future.

To do so they will also build on the significantly positive aspects of the report in relation to diversity and inclusion which has resulted in its most recent firefighter recruitment campaign attracting 26% female candidates and 7% from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background.

The report praised effective partnership and multi-agency work carried out, including active membership of the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership and found the service to be proactive when engaging with under-represented groups in the community.

It stated that 'the service has developed a good culture of learning and improvement’ with training programmes and demonstrated ‘the right mix of knowledge and practical skills to keep the public safe when responding to emergency incidents’.

Inspectors found that the Service has site and risk-specific and multi-agency plans in place for high risk premises and high profile events where there is the potential for major hazards to develop.

The Service is highly effective at working with other fire services nationally and is highly effective in the management and coordination of national resilience assets via its Fire Control.

Its budget handling was praised having made significant savings over the last seven years - budget has reduced from £73.6m in 2010/11 to £59.9m in 2018/19 - and "has made a consistent commitment to ensuring it provides services in a productive manner. The changes it has introduced are for the benefit of the public.’

Praising his staff, chief fire officer Phil Garrigan, continued: "It gives me great satisfaction to know that our continued efforts have been recognised and we are genuinely making our communities safer - we intend to build on this report and continue to find innovative ways to keep our communities safe, whilst developing and enhancing the skills of our dedicated staff to ensure they thrive in work."

Chair of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority, Cllr Les Byrom, said: "The outcomes of this report are fantastic news for the Authority, and a testament to our support of the chief fire officer's recent bold and innovative plans to make positive changes to enhance the service and increase resources despite years of budget cuts."

The full inspection report is on the HMICFRS website /hmicfrs/fire-and-rescue-services/