Responsibility for fire service inspection was transferred to the Audit Commission following the publication of the Government's White Paper “Our Fire and Rescue Service” in June 2003 and the subsequent Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004. Since that time, Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate has not carried out any inspections of Fire and Rescue Authorities but has acted as an advisory body providing the Government, the Audit Commission and fire and rescue authorities with advice on professional fire service matters.
The Audit Commission conducted a Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) of fire and rescue authorities and reported on their findings in July 2005. This assessment set a baseline for improvement in all fire and rescue authorities and the Audit Commission has subsequently developed a performance assessment framework for the service to measure improvement since CPA. This performance assessment framework consists of three elements—a direction of travel assessment, a use of resources assessment and a service assessment. The service assessment included an operational assessment, developed in conjunction with the Chief Fire Officers Association, and carried out by Fire and Rescue staff seconded into CLG for that purpose. Results of these assessments for 2006-07 are due to be published shortly.