A WORKING group of councillors has been set up to address damning findings from an inspector’s report into Surrey Fire and Rescue Service.

The group will address concerns raised in an inspection report published in December 2018 which rated the county’s fire service inadequate.

Members of the group will compile a report on how the service is performing and on any areas it feels needs more attention and present it to Surrey County Council cabinet members in the summer.

The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service (HMICFRS) found “serious concerns” with SFRS (Surrey Fire and Rescue Service) and its effectiveness and efficiency.

Inspectors concluded the service needed to “keep people safe from fire and other emergencies more effectively” and must improve on how it responds to and prevents fires in the county.

The report, published on December 20, also said the service needs to improve how it looks after its people and should be more affordable.

Councillors on SCC’s environment select committee agreed in a meeting just before the findings of the inspection were made public that a working group should be set up.

And a report updating progress of setting up the group will be presented to committee members tomorrow (Friday).

Papers for the meeting say a savings target of £2 million for 2020-21 is “unlikely to be achieved” and that the working group will “utilise its role as a critical friend to challenge policy-makers and decision-makers and drive service-wide improvements”.

Recommendations from the group will be submitted to the environment select committee and cabinet members later in the year.

Surrey was the first fire service in the country to try out an electric fire engine in November last year.

The Rosenbauer Concept Fire Truck (pictured below) barely has any exhaust emissions.

It comes after Surrey councillors signed off a fire service budget of £32,228,000 for 2019-20 – almost £4.4m more than initially proposed in Surrey’s now-scrapped Medium Term Financial Plan for the period 2018-21.

However, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned this week that central Government is looking to “sneak through” its own 15 per cent cut to fire service budgets across the UK over the next year.

According to FBU analysis of the annual Local Government Finance Settlement, funding for the fire and rescue service will fall by £155m nationwide in 2019-20, representing a 15 per cent cut since 2016-17.

This, despite a three per cent increase in fires and a one per cent increase in overall incidents attended by firefighters last year.