DORSET and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has been rated Good across the board in the first independent inspection of fire services in England in 12 years.

Hundreds of staff were interviewed by inspectors as part of the process by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services to find out how it rated against other fire teams in the country.

Inspector Wendy Williams said: “The residents of Dorset and Wiltshire can be confident that they are receiving a quality service.

“Our first inspection of Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has found that it is performing to a high standard in all areas.

“We found that the combination was well managed, and the new service is realising operational and financial benefits as a result.”

Chief fire officer, Ben Ansell added: “I’m incredibly proud of our service, which has got three Goods.

“We are quite a new service, and so let’s not underestimate that achievement.

“To have inspectors speak to 27 per cent of our workforce and come out with that rating is fantastic.”

He added: “There was one area which had Requires Improvement and that was for the effectiveness of understanding the risk of fire and other emergencies.

“It was the only one we got and we almost volunteered it as something we held our hands up to say we could improve.

“This means that in some cases the date of a fire review into places of significant importance such as a historic building may have lapsed.

“In the second section, efficiency, we didn’t have a single area of improvement, we made £4.5 million of savings when we combined Wiltshire and Dorset, that is a one-off saving and they did not find anything in the way we run the service that could be improved in this area.”

Speaking about the future of the service, he said: “We know we have an issue with firefighter recruitment and retention in particular in Wiltshire but we are working through that and the piece of work suggests we are no worse than the picture across England and we are doing better than quite a lot.

“I am really proud and pleased. I think it shows we have had a successful combination of services.”