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Fire Standards Board introduces duo of new professional Fire Standards

09 May 2023

THE FIRE Standards Board, which oversees the identification, organisation, development and maintenance of professional Fire Standards for Fire and Rescue Services in England, has announced the launch of two new Fire Standards concentrating on Fire Control and Communication and Engagement.

The development of the Fire Control Standard was driven by major incidents of recent times, among them the Grenfell Tower fire and the terrorist bombing at Manchester Arena, both of which occurred in 2017. It addresses the fundamental and strategic role that Fire Control plays, from initially receiving the first contact right through to the very close of an incident.

From standardising and refining the efficiency of multi-agency working to providing Fire Control employees with greater avenues for career progression, this Fire Standard’s development drew on the expertise and wide knowledge of Fire Control that’s available in all operational service activity, taking into account the viewpoints of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Fire Control project team, the NFCC’s lead for Fire Control, the Mobilising Officers Group and Fire Control specialists resident within a wide range of Fire and Rescue Services.

Ben Norman, deputy chief fire officer for Greater Manchester and the NFCC’s strategic lead for operational communications, said: “The benefits associated with the launch of the Fire Control Standard will include better resilience, greater strategic awareness and interest in Fire Control, not to mention improved levels of recruitment and retention and professional development opportunities. In turn, this will lead to an even more effective operational response in tandem with enhanced community safety.”

Communication and engagement

For its part, the Communication and Engagement Fire Standard clarifies the importance of effective communication and engagement in all aspects of a Fire and Rescue Service and aims to ensure Fire and Rescue Services across the board have defined approaches in terms of how to strategically communicate with all stakeholders, both internally and externally.

Accessible and inclusive communication and engagement will always be fundamental in building a positive working environment and culture and are key when it comes to keeping communities safe. The new Communication and Engagement Fire Standard reaffirms that good communication is the responsibility of everyone.

FirePRO, the membership body for communication professionals operating within the Fire and Rescue Service, developed the document through working with the Fire Standards Board and engaging with industry leaders both from the Chartered Institute for Public Relations and the Local Government Association.

Paul Compton, who served as chair of FirePRO between 2019 and 2022 and led on the development of the new Communication and Engagement Fire Standard, explained: “When I became chair of FirePRO with responsibility for supporting improvements in practice across the sector, the one thing that was missing was the standard to aim for. We now have that firmly in place.”

Compton went on to comment: “Communicators in the Fire and Rescue Services achieve a huge amount, often with little resource and when operating to tight budgets. The reach and impact Fire and Rescue Services have within communities across the country is huge and often proves communication can be a hugely important intervention that actually saves lives.”

In conclusion, Compton noted: “This Fire Standard will deliver an even bigger focus on where strategic communication and engagement can benefit Fire and Rescue Services, encouraging consistency across the sector and reaffirming that good communication and engagement are everyone’s responsibility.”

Gap analysis tools

As is the case with all Fire Standards, there are corresponding gap analysis tools designed to support Fire and Rescue Services with implementation. These tools assist Fire and Rescue Services in both assessing how well they currently meet Fire Standards and in considering any additional actions that may be required on the path to achieving them.

Chris Philp (Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire) observed: “I’m delighted to see the launch of the Fire Control Standard and the Communication and Engagement Fire Standard, both of which are designed to support all Fire and Rescue Services in ensuring that the local community and efficiencies are at the very heart of their work.”

Philp added: “These Fire Standards demonstrate that continuing to improve the quality of service and communication provided to the public is of the highest importance. What’s more, they support the professional development of Fire and Rescue Service employees across the country. We expect all Fire and Rescue Services to review and implement any changes needed in order to deliver a consistently excellent service for members of the public.”

Significant step forward

Suzanne McCarthy, chair of the Fire Standards Board, enthused: “The launch of these two new Fire Standards is a significant step forward in terms of helping Fire and Rescue Services to fashion the right behaviours and values. They build on our increasing suite of Fire Standards. Taken together, that suite of documents supports and enables Fire and Rescue Services to drive continuous improvement.”

In conclusion, McCarthy stated: “I want to thank all of the individuals and Fire and Rescue Services who contributed towards the content of these new Fire Standards. Like those Fire Standards already published, these documents have been developed by the Fire and Rescue Service for the Fire and Rescue Service. They acknowledge and incorporate what ‘good’ looks like.”