North Wales and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Services have jointly appointed a specialist to conduct an independent cultural review.

This follows Welsh Government’s acceptance in March of a proposal from the fire services to review how they are progressing on their cultural journeys. The services say they acknowledge the importance of fostering a positive and supportive workplace environment and the need for public reassurance in this regard.

Crest Advisory, specialists in organisational standards, performance and culture, will start the review in July, guided by a statement made on this by the then Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn MS. The review will publish a final report, making an assessment of workplace culture progress and identifying opportunities for improvement.

North Wales Chief Fire Officer Dawn Docx said: “We first embarked on a cultural journey in 2021 with a comprehensive Fire Family Staff Survey commissioned from an independent company, followed by diligent action plans and regular progress updates. The Service has seen positive shifts since then, and this work continues following our latest staff survey conducted in the Autumn of 2023.

“We are dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of our communities and our workforce and recognise the importance of external assurance, scrutiny, and challenge in our ongoing progress on our cultural journey.

“We are committed to implementing any recommendations stemming from the cultural review in a transparent, inclusive, and effective manner.”

Mid and West Wales Chief Fire Officer Roger Thomas said: “We have also undertaken a robust cultural audit via an external company, and as a result, through the formation of a Culture and Inclusion Board and Working Group, an action plan to make wide-ranging enhancements is underway, a process which has been welcomed by Welsh Government.

“We understand the need to seek external validation and input to ensure that we continue on the right path.

“In line with our commitment to continuous improvement, we each aim to enhance our organisational culture and operations for the benefit of our communities and staff and look forward to the positive impact these efforts will have on our organisations.”

Cabinet Secretary for Housing, Local Government and Planning, Julie James, said: “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their place of work and I welcome these independent cultural reviews which will help provide important assurance about workplace culture and staff welfare in both North Wales and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Services. We will consider the findings of the reports carefully.”

The review seeks to engage openly and fully with current and former members of both fire services. Crest Advisory will capture views and experiences by carrying out a survey, one-to-one interviews and focus groups across both fire and rescue services.

Further information about how to participate in the work of the review team will be made available in due course.

The final report, together with identified areas for improvement, will hopefully be published in January 2025 and presented to both Fire and Rescue Authorities and Welsh Government, as further evidence of independent assurance.