Survey points to chiefs' discontent.(Modernisation survey)

Are CFOs as aligned with policy and structure changes as the government believes? In the second part of an exclusive modernisation survey for FIRE, the author suggests fire chiefs are deeply divided on the processes for change. Forty-six chief fire officers responded to the survey, 16 of whom were interviewed in this unique and revealing report

IN THE SECOND PART OF A report on a confidential survey of the views of fire chiefs on key issues, the author finds that opinion on regionalisation is deeply divided. The survey was followed up with discussions with leading figures, some of whom wanted to protect their anonymity and others who were happy to put their names to their views. The author also interviewed the minister to get his views on the findings.

The study confirmed both areas of agreement and difference across the Service. There were some encouraging aspects: 96 per cent of the participating fire chiefs agreed that they supported the government's modernisation agenda, with many pointing out that most of the initiatives were merely formalising what they considered best practice. In addition, 91 per cent see the Service as developing as a public safety service; this was reinforced by comments from all interviewed that the government was reflecting views expressed long before the white paper.

This informal survey covered chief fire officers from across fire and rescue services within England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A questionnaire sought opinions from the CFOs on their support for the government's modernisation agenda for the FRS, the speed of change of the reorganisation, the perception and reputation of the Fire and Rescue Service, and the attitudes towards regionalisation.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

The move towards regionalisation is a hotly contested issue for chief officers. Just under half, 47 per cent, agreed that 'the move towards regionalisation will help in the effectiveness of the Fire and Rescue Service delivery'. One said: "My experience indicates that making an organisation bigger does not necessarily make it better. In fact, I would argue that smaller organisations are frequently leaner and more effective when it comes to doing their job."

And only 17 per cent of CFOs agreed that the move towards regionalisation 'will strip out levels of bureaucracy'. …

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