OXFORDSHIRE’s fire and rescue service is providing a good service to residents and is making the best of its resources, inspectors have found.

The service was inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in November 2018 but only told of its results this month.

It was told the way it promotes its values and culture was excellent and was told the way it keeps people safe, how efficient it is at doing so and how it looks after people is good.

Simon Furlong, the service’s outgoing chief fire officer, said he was ‘really pleased’ to be recognised for its culture.

He said: “Overall it was a really positive report for us. It has marked areas of improvement for us.

“There was nothing in it that was any surprise to us. We were quite open and honest and that we were on an improving journey.

“It’s nice to be reassured that we not only respond effectively to fires but it really reflects the great service we provide to the community.”

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When Mr Furlong was appointed in April 2017, he said he was keen to make the fire and rescue service more representative of the county’s communities.

More women have joined the service but make up about five per cent of the whole service. Ethnic minorities remain underrepresented. About 16 per cent of Oxfordshire’s population is from an ethnic minority but just 1.8 per cent of the fire and rescue service’s staff are from those groups.

But Mr Furlong insisted the service is still working towards being more representative of the people it serves.

He said: “We’ve got some really good green shoots. We’ve been really successful in attracting women. We’re trying to attract people and seeing this as a career for all and then helping them.”

Mr Furlong added: “It’s going to take a long time. We need to keep going on this. We run women’s taster days to attract them; they’re now being completely run by women.”

“This is not [for] one, two, three years – this is long term – because we want to be representative of our community. We’re nowhere near there but there are some really green shoots coming through.”

Judith Heathcoat, Oxfordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for fire and rescue, said: “Firefighters come from the community so they know the community and the community well. Within the fire service, the amount of work they do that hits all generations.”

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She added: “I am proud to see that the hard work of our staff has been recognised.

“Inspections are an important way to get objective feedback on how a service is performing and our achievements are being rightly celebrated”

Mrs Heathcoat said: “Actions speak louder than words and that is why we have been really trying to get the word out that working for the fire and rescue service really could be for anyone and the diverse range of attendance on recent try-out days has reflected this.”