Pennies from Heaven: after decades of benign neglect, the contribution made to the community by the retained service is finally starting to become recognised for its true worth. With 60 per cent of total front line appliances covering nearly 90 per cent of the UK landmass, retained duty system firefighters are the subject of a review of the recruitment and retention challenges.(Retained Duty System)

THE ODPM'S REPORT--THE FIRE AND Rescue Service Retained Duty System: A Review Of The Recruitment And Retention Challenges--follows closely on the heels of the FBU report, Off the Run. That report looks at the issues surrounding a very cost effective firefighting and rescue resource as modernisation of the Service evolves.

The ODPM's report has 51 recommendations ranging from the terminology to be used--'retained duty system personnel'--through gaining recognition for the service, to the contribution the RDS can make to modernising and integration within the Fire Service. The report also assesses the more practical issues of recruitment, training and retention, with the review team looking at best practice in a number of services.

Recruitment and Selection

One of the key issues for the future will be the recruitment and selection of RDS personnel. The current tests for recruitment for RDS differ from those for wholetime personnel in the vast majority of fire and rescue services. This has in many cases been the result of supply and demand of potential employees. The stark reality is that while 'forty people apply for every one wholetime vacancy' the opposite is true for retained recruitment with an estimated 20 per cent shortfall in staff in the UK. …

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