THE ISLE of Wight Fire and Rescue Service has retained its Charter Mark for another three years after being found to provide an exceptionally high-quality service.

The prestigious award was first presented to the Island's Fire and Rescue Service by the Cabinet Office in February 2000. It was reassessed in July this year.

In a letter to the service, Roy Stephenson, head of the Charter Mark and Beacon Unit, said: "Your organisation continues to provide exceptionally high service to users."

The purpose of the assessment is to enable an organisation to receive an external audit of how it measures up against the ten Charter Mark criteria for excellence in public service delivery, and to provide a basis for continuous improvement.

The criteria include the effective use of resources, consulting and involving present and potential users, setting standards and providing full information.

The examiners are also interested in improvements that have been made since the service was last assessed.

A feedback report from the unit stated: "You enjoy a high level of user satisfaction but recognise that this requires continuous reinforcement. You regularly review you service to ensure that it continues to meet public need and expectation."

Richard Hards, the Island's Chief Fire Officer, said: "The retention of the Charter Mark Award for excellent public service means that the quality of our servie provision has received the endorsement of a highly-acclaimed Scheme Management Team within the Charter Mark and Beacon unit of the Cabinet Office. All parts of our brigade came under the microscope and the assessment included a visit to some

members of the public who have used our services.

"However, this does not mean we can become complacement. We must continue to work hard to retain this award and to show further improvement at the next assessment in 2005."

Councillor David Knowles, executive portfolio holder for fire and public safety, said: "The Fire and Rescue Service are to be congratulated in the retention of this award. The quality of its service provision is reflected in its high level of user satisfaction and its effective use of resources to ensure all members of the service are well trained and proficient in carrying out their duties."