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Industry Insight: Humberside Fire and Rescue - Members only

17th April 2024
12:00am - 12:00am
Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, Summergroves Way, Hessle HU4 7BB
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Join us for a unique behind-the-scenes tour to witness how the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service has ensured safer communities across the Humber.

This Industry Insight will delve into the inner workings of the Fire and Rescue Service. During this experience, we will learn how the service partners with local organisations and communities to prevent and reduce incidents. You will gain insights into the efforts to recruit new firefighters through the ‘Be Our Future’ campaign and witness the evolution of roles and demands within the fire service. Additionally, there will be an opportunity to witness a firefighter demonstration, providing a firsthand experience of how the service protects our region.

About Humberside Fire and Rescue Service:

Marking its 50th anniversary, the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety of nearly one million residents across an area of 1,358 square miles.

These dedicated firefighters are not only trained to combat fires, but also equipped to handle a diverse range of emergencies, including traffic accidents, rail incidents, air accidents, floods, chemical spills, and animal rescues.

The control room at the Hessle headquarters manages all 999 calls, dispatching fire engines from 31 stations throughout our region. In 2023 alone, the service extinguished over 3,300 fires and responded to 13,362 reported incidents.

On the 17th April 2024, we took Bondholders for an exclusive behind the scenes experience at Humberside Fire and Rescue Service HQ in Hessle, East Yorkshire. The event was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about their services, the challenges they face, and how businesses can engage with the organisation.

First, we were warmly welcomed by the efficient team and shown into their museum, hosting a collection of fire and rescue uniforms, equipment, and memorabilia from over the years. It’s a great place to visit for those interested in emergency services and local history and shows how things have changed in emergency response over the past few decades.


After some networking, the welcome was given by Paige McGowan of Future Humber and Steve Duffield, Deputy Chief Fire Officer.

Chief Fire Officer Phil Shillito started with an overview of the visit and what we would be learning about, including the workings of the control room, the ongoing recruitment drive for on-call firefighters, and a demonstration of their emergency response capabilities.

This year, Humberside Fire and Rescue are celebrating 50 years of operating, during which they’ve responded to over 650,000 incidents. The last 5 decades have seen a shift from primarily fighting fires and assisting at road traffic accidents to responding to emergencies caused by climate change, such as flooding and tackling wildfires. Phil shared with us that the fire and rescue services are not remitted, or financed, to respond to calls for help for those impacted by flooding and similar but they do out of moral duty.


The organisation has evolved alongside the demands and there is a drive to make the fire and rescue service workforce more representative of the community it serves. Things are improving with around 25% of new recruits coming from traditionally under-represented groups. Around 9% of front-line operational staff are female, so there is still work to be done in some areas, but the efforts continue. The age and height restrictions that have been associated with the service in the past have been removed and the main requirement is physical fitness – as long as you can pass the fitness tests, then age and height no longer matter.

Phil is also Chair of the Local Resilience Forum. LRFs are multi-agency partnerships made up of representatives from local public services, including the emergency services, local authorities, the NHS, the Environment Agency and others. They aim to plan and prepare for localised incidents and catastrophic emergencies, and work to identify potential risks and produce emergency plans to either prevent or mitigate the impact of any incident on their local communities.

The Annual Recognition Awards are annual awards for team members and there are opportunities for businesses to support this great work through sponsorship.

“We are more than big red fire engines” - Phil Shillito, Chief Fire Officer 

Matt Sutcliffe, Assistant Chief Fire Officer talked about the commercial side of the organisation.

There are 31 fire stations in the Humberside region, 11 of which are full-time 24/7 stations, the rest being made up of on-call teams. The service has 42 fire engines and a huge range of rescue transport and equipment, including drones and rescue dogs.

The National Framework under which fire and rescue services operate is currently under review, and all parts of the operation are vulnerable to change in line with national politics and the wider environment.

Over the last few years, the number of fires that have needed to be attended has halved. This is due to a number of factors including fewer people smoking, but demand has changed and new technologies are causing new demands.

The service spends a lot of time assisting ambulance crews, attending RTAs, and rescuing people and animals as well as the traditional responding to fires.

Productivity and efficiency is always under scrutiny. The service is funded to the tune of £58 million, through a mix of national and local funding, including from business rates and council tax. Funding is impacted by regional performance, so working with other regional organisations is key. Public accountability is significant.

The HMICFRS, the fire and rescue service equivalent of OFSTED, has given Humberside Fire and Rescue Service a ‘good’ rating for the past 11 inspections.

Matt talked about their cadet service, started in Grimbsby, and its success in engaging the younger generations in fire safety and in recruitment.

The fire and rescue service spend a lot of their time visiting local businesses and carrying out inspections and giving advice. Around 3500 premises are inspected annually. The built environment is changing and presenting challenges, as are new forms of transport such as electric vehicles.

Climate change is a pressing issue and the fire and rescue service is challenged by flooding, an issue that is certainly pertinent in the Humber region, and by wildfires that happen during heatwaves.

Overall, fire incidents have reduced, and the focus is now on providing support to other services. As an example, off duty firefighters are called upon when needed in their community, to help people who have falls in their homes.

The service would appreciate your feedback on the Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP), which they will be sending round later in the year, to help them be aware of potential risks and demand, which is hugely important in helping the service to plan their resources.

There is more of a focus on analytics and data science and the service employs a data scientist. The service is all about assessing risk and making sure the right resources are in the right locations to keep the community safe.

Challenges to the operations come from societal changes and issues such as deprivation, environmental changes, developments in technology and industry, financial pressures, diversity and inclusion, and in recruiting the right people especially for on-call roles.

HQ tour

A tour of the HQ followed, and we saw everything the service had to offer, including their specialist fire engines with advanced rescue equipment, the 45 metre ladder truck, some fierce cutting equipment, an observation drone, and a pair of very good boys trained to sniff out accelerants at potential arson scenes and to speed up missing persons operations.


A huge thank you to all the team who turned out to help educate us on the finer points of the service, including representatives from the control room, the recruitment team, and partner organisations including Safer Roads Humber.

A networking lunch followed. Thank you to the events team at Humberside Fire and Rescue Service for their amazing hospitality.

Matt Sutcliffe, Assistant Chief Fire Officer picked up the reins to talk about the careers and opportunities available at Humberside Fire and Rescue Service. He said it was proven to be a great place to work and that around 85% of people who worked in the service would recommend it as an employer. Staff attrition rate is low with most people who leave the service, leaving as retired.

The service welcomes input from businesses and ideas to help develop with the changing business and industrial landscape.

Niall McKiniry, Deputy Chief Fire Officer and Executive Director of Service Delivery took over to talk about recruitment and engagement.

The service is open to discussions with all industries on the Humber about risk and resilience. Niall pleaded to all big businesses to engage with the service who can help to check and test resilience plans.

Recruitment remains a challenge. Women are underrepresented in frontline roles, and there is a need to diversify the workforce in all areas. There are links with the education sector for fire prevention programmes and also for recruitment.

As it stands, on-call firefighters make up the bulk of frontline firefighters in Humberside.

The benefits for businesses of having on-call firefighters in their workforce is the training in desirable, transferable skills which the employees develop, including emergency response, first aid, health and safety, dealing with the public, and crisis management. Having on-call firefighters in a business shows good social responsibility and is a great way of a business giving back to their local community.

To find out more about being an on-call firefighter, please visit


Our visit concluded with demonstrations of two common responses – evacuating a casualty from a car involved in a RTA, and the evacuation of a bariatric patient from an upper floor. This was hugely engaging and provided real insight into the effectiveness of thorough training and teamwork. Thank you to the onsite crew and crew from Immingham East for showing us all their skills.


Key messages

  • Humberside Fire and Rescue Service are keen to be more involved in Bondholders as they would like to contribute more to the development of the region.
  • People in business are needed to give their views to help develop the Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) which will be out later this year.
  • On-call firefighters are needed across the region and businesses have a key role to play through support and facilitation.
  • Businesses can show their support for the service and those who serve by sponsoring an award in the Annual Recognition Awards.
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