Operational competence: the lost art? As FIRE tackles the thorny issue of operational performance that others fear to raise, our correspondent explains the thinking behind the questions posed to Fire Service movers and shakers. Going to the heart of the issue he asks, are firefighters and the public at risk because of perceived diminishing attention being paid to core competencies?(Operations and Training)

THERE IS NO FIRE AND RESCUE Service manager that has not used or heard the words 'unprecedented change' in describing what the Service has been going through in recent years. Many will acknowledge that there is no pain without gain and welcome the opportunity to help sculptor and influence what the future Service will look like or be capable of dealing with.

Another much used phrase is 'From Intervention to Prevention' signalling a greater emphasis on all things educational and informative over the emergency response role. None can argue with the base premise on which the present drive for a more preventative based approach to duties is placed on the Fire and Rescue service. The stark statistics suggests that weight of attack options in response to fire emergencies only have an effect to a point and death and injury will still occur. There therefore has to be consideration given to alternative options requiring different skill sets from operational crews.

Fire Service management and leadership have also been questioned by a number of reviews and research projects. Again the desire to learn and change is commendable as too is the recognition of organisational culture on the way in which the Service performs and is perceived by others.

But at what cost? …

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