CHESHIRE Fire Authority has been rated 'Good' in an audit commission report.
Chief fire officer Steve McGuirk is 'pleased' with the achievement but not as pleased as his identical twin brother Tony who runs the neighbouring Merseyside Fire Service, which was one of only two fire services to gain 'excellent' status.
The assessment found the Cheshire service was doing well in some areas but there was room for improvement and the service only performed at minimum requirements in terms of maximising the potential of its workforce.
The commission found:
A history of inadequate human resources policies and practices means systems to fully develop staff are not yet in place.
Staff are not fully involved or consulted over the service's plans. nPlans to promote equality and diversity within the workforce are 'not robust or well coordinated'.
On a positive note, Cheshire Fire Authority's 'realistic plans' and an innovative approach were said to be increasing public safety and reducing risk.
Strong leadership was praised for tackling difficult issues, such as changes to work patterns.
There was said to be 'a sound, integrated risk management plan'.
Strong partnership working, including projects with young people was also praised
Chief fire officer Steve McGuirk said: 'Naturally, I am very pleased we have achieved a 'Good' rating during the Audit Commission's first ever assessment of the performance of all fire and rescue services in England.
'To have achieved this result during a period of change is outstanding and I would like to put on record my thanks to all of our staff.'
He added: 'However, despite the 'Good' rating, we know there are still improvements to be made, particularly in the areas of human resources and communications. Since the inspection was carried out in February we have recruited new managers to lead these two areas .'