Fire

Should I stay or should I go? Our reporter examines the uncertainty control centre staff are facing in their jobs and asks whether the ideologies coming out of parliament will come to fruition.(Regional Controls)

NOT JUST THE TITLE TO A great Clash anthem but also an expression of the dilemma facing many fire control staff following the announcement of the locations for the regional centres. With many staff now having to travel further to the new buildings, they are starting to examine their future careers in the Fire and Rescue Service, and the current loss of experience is showing signs that it may become a haemorrhage.

Rebecca Smith (not her real name) is a typical example, currently a crew manager (control) and having served in a South East FRS for over seven years. The regional centre will change her commute from a 20 mile round trip to one of over a hundred. Despite the job being secure for the next three years or so until the dose down of local centres is complete, she is now actively seeking local employment with other organisations rather than face the certainty of needing to seek another job in what may be a difficult job market in the near future. When she leaves (not if, because the financial incentive to stay is not sufficiently attractive), her watch will have a total experience of less than ten years between five staff. Her watch is not unique and neither is the service untypical.

On the ground the impact may have an effect that could be identical to the vacuum left on operational watches across the country as the 1974 and 1978 cadres of firefighters leave for pastures new. The local knowledge taken by the departing control staff was never essential but the experience, the 'gut instinct' underpinned by years of call taking and remote incident support management, allowed 'dynamic mobilising' of additional resources without the need for technological aids. …

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