Cold wars and the sultans of spin: following the vitriolic confrontation of the fire strike, our correspondent assesses the legacy left by the protracted dispute and what the Fire and Rescue Service can do to move on.(Fire Service Status)

ACCORDING TO THE HISTORIAN AJP Taylor, wars are far easier to start than to finish. Industrial disputes on the other hand should be a process of negotiation resulting in a compromise that both parties accept. Almost in parallel to the Iraq war, the firefighter's industrial dispute of 2002 2004 must seem at times to be more akin to a partially concluded conflict rather than a done deal.

Cold War

As the 'Cold War' phase continues with disputes bubbling up throughout the UK, is the impact of the dispute, particularly the 'shock and awe' nature of the government publicity campaign, still being felt? Will there be a lasting legacy for the Service? Is it possible for all protagonists to kiss and make up or will the mistrust continue to fester?

It is essential to appreciate the negative impact that public relations can have on the perception of an organisation's capability to deliver its organisational goals. Gerald Ratner destroyed his jewellery business following acknowledgement of the quality of his products and the publicity following Nell Kinnock,s speech and gesturing at the Sheffield rally was widely thought to have cost the Labour Party the 1992 election. As the fire and rescue services implement a new regime of fire safety enforcement and new prevention duties, the credibility of the staff required to deliver the service to both business and within the community at large has never been more important. …

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