Home>Fire>Fire and Rescue >Kent Fire and Rescue Service first in UK to receive formal recognition for incident debriefs

Kent Fire and Rescue Service first in UK to receive formal recognition for incident debriefs

17 November 2020

KENT FIRE and Rescue Service (KFRS) has become the first Fire and Rescue Service in the UK to receive professional recognition for its extensive incident debrief process. As part of its commitment to continuously learn and improve, KFRS has made “significant and pioneering” changes to its formal debrief process, making it more thorough and inclusive of all departments involved in an incident from the first 999 call.

In light of the improvements, the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) has awarded KFRS with formal Continuing Professional Development (CPD) recognition for future operational debriefs. This is the first time the IFE has recognised a UK Fire and Rescue Service’s debriefing process as an official CPD exercise.

The changes and implementation of a formal debrief process were introduced following an internal audit in 2017. This prompted KFRS to review its learning procedures following an incident, starting from the beginning and ascertaining what would trigger a formal debrief of a given episode.

James Rutherford, operational assurance manager at the KFRS, said: “Previously, a debrief would only be held if four or more fire engines attended an incident. However, this would potentially exclude other serious incidents with less attendance, but still warranted a full debrief.”

With this is mind, KFRS introduced the three-tier critical incident system. This categorises the seriousness of the incident on the outcome for the customer, rather than the attendance. Now, all critical incidents, regardless of the tier, are debriefed.

Inclusion of all departments

Another unprecedented change was to include all departments involved in an incident, such as control, Health and Safety, media, building safety, post-incident care and, of course, fire crews themselves.

“It was the first time the initial 999 call had become part of a debrief process,” added Rutherford. “By involving everyone who plays a part in an incident, it allows us to discuss, challenge and, ultimately, improve our tactics. A debrief is a moment in which to learn and ensure that we continue to deliver the best possible outcome for the customer.”

Vicki Ball, head of education at the IFE, stated: “As the professional institution for those operating in the fire sector, the IFE is committed to supporting and recognising the CPD available through relevant learning opportunities. The award of CPD hours for those participating in operational debriefs recognises the importance of them as a way for individuals to increase their understanding and develop their personal skills when it comes to recognising areas for improvement for both themselves and their organisation.”

For KFRS staff who attend debriefs that run for a minimum of two-and-a-half-hours, they receive an official IFE certificate to acknowledge that the time they’ve committed has been recognised as CPD time, which is actually required to maintain IFE membership.

600 operational changes

Since the first formal debrief took place in February 2018, the team has now delivered over 100 debriefing procedures involving more than 1,375 attendees. As a result, in excess of 1,000 actions have been implemented and over 600 operational changes introduced.

To date, 14 other Fire and Rescue Services have now adopted the debrief processes initially designed by KFRS.