Assessing requirements for multi-level entry: if the Fire and Rescue Service is to introduce a truly multi-level entry process, the author of this report contends that there needs to be adherence to key findings of his study, such as identifying command competence for each post and ensuring resilience.(Research Institute)

IN THE FOREWORD TO THE WHITE Paper the Deputy Prime Minister stated that: 'The Fire Service is in need of reform'. (pg 5) and '... we want to see ... systems that allow staff to progress quickly through the ranks'. (pg 6). Furthermore the White Paper confirms: 'We will ... bring in multi-revel entry and introduce accelerated development schemes ...' (pg 8).

Slow to Change

The Deputy Prime Minister's comments at the time suggest that the Fire and Rescue Service is a mechanistic organisation that has been slow to react to change.

However, the dispute of 2002 brought precipitated major change. Consultation papers were published by the ODPM and SE in response to an independent review chaired by Professor Sir George Bain (2003).

This review identified a clear need for a modernised Fire Service bringing it into line with other public services. Specific reference was made to the importance the IPDS will play in the introduction of a modern HR system.

The independent review also highlighted the need for widening the selection net for senior managers. It claims failure to do so will inevitably result in a shortfall in the management skills required by the Fire and Rescue Service: 'Under the current single-tier entry system, it will not be possible to produce sufficient numbers of high quality skilled managers to meet Fire Service needs'. (Section 7.56).

This research project considered how other organisations in the public and private sectors integrate external managers into the organisation, reflecting on the similarities and differences between each of the following organisations: Berkeley Fire Department, California State; Oklahoma State University; Broken Arrow Fire Department and Claremore Fire Department, Oklahoma State; The Netherlands Institute for Fire Service and Disaster Management (Nibra) and Dutch Fire Brigades; the Home Office Assessment and Consultancy Unit (ACU); Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

The research methodology included case studies, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, observation, and documentary analysis. It was clear there were fundamental differences in the philosophy behind the development and selection processes between each of the organisations. …

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