Fire

Key to changing culture: effective team behaviours: following a previous paper on organisational change, the author sets out the results of a long-term research project into one particular aspect of modernisation: the development of Fire Service team culture.(Team Behaviour)

'The Fire Service needs to be changed from top to bottom and every aspect of its work reformed to bring it into line with best practice at the start of the twenty-first century.' So said the report into the Fire Service by Sir George Bath, produced following industrial action by members of the FBU in 2002/03. (i)

This is one of many reports that state that change is necessary in the Fire Service nationally One significant aspect of change that reoccurs in many of these reports is the need to modify and modernise the culture of Fire Service teams or 'watches'.

This paper proposes a model for effective team behavioural factors in Fire Service teams, which will hopefully contribute to the change agenda by identifying a direction for future team development.

METHODOLOGY

Using an interpretative methodology the research project explored the subjective meanings motivating firefighters' actions on watches (in both their operational and non-operational work) and used the inductive/deductive mix of grounded theory in order to understand them. The research process was designed around three stages of work.

* Following a literature review of team cultures and organisational psychology the first phase involved identifying the most effective Fire Service teams (watches) operating within a recognised high performing organisation using both qualitative and quantitative measurements.

* The second phase involved carrying out Critical Incident Technique (ii) interviews with 40 per cent of team members and recording the individual's recollection of effective team actions. The researchers, after analysis and re-analysis of the scripts from these interviews, characterised the identified behaviours into groups.

* The third phase included feeding back the findings to locus groups representing 33 percent of Service officers and 72 per cent of the members of these effective teams and analysing the information from these focus groups in parallel with previous research findings. The final effective team behavioural factors were produced from this data, using names and descriptions developed in vivo wherever possible. A meta analysis was then carried out to ground the results in current literature.

RESEARCH FINDINGS

The research identifies that there are 11 effective team behavioural factors found on wholetime firefighting teams in the Service subject to the research. …

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