FRS innovations.(FLEXIBLE WORKING IN THE FRS)(Fire and Rescue Service)

Flexible Working in the Fire and Rescue Service' was the first in a series of new CFOA conferences looking at sharing good practice and innovation across the Service. The event was held in Leicester on January 23 and 24 2008.

A huge amount of effort has gone into change within the Fire and Rescue Service across fire authorities. Although, through external assessment, we can see how each other have performed, we often cannot look closely at some of the initiatives that have led to improved performance. This event, looking at flexible working in the Service, was very successful and provoked a lot of interest and debate among delegates. Without exception, elected fire authority members enjoyed the day and many were inspired by innovative work going on in other fire and rescue services and were able to take back new ideas to their own CFOs.

There were a number of themes running through all the presentations, not least of which were to be clear about what you are trying to achieve and ensure that business and employee objectives are met. You cannot over-communicate with your managers and employees and above all keep moving when the going gets tough.

The presentations from this event are available to CFOA members on the 'Events' page of the CFOA website


Bob Anderson from my own fire and rescue service in West Yorkshire set the context of the need for change in working practices, including increasing pressure for financial savings across fire authorities and the need to extend family-friendly working practices to attract and retain our staff. In West Yorkshire we have introduced a number of changes, including a flexitime system, new rotas for FDS, non standard day crewing for urban search and rescue and not leastmoving to 11/13 shifts for 2-2-4 based staff along with new work schedules.

This move in shift system is not as radical as in other services, but it will deliver real business objectives including 284,000 extra productive hours equating to 2.8 million [pounds sterling].

The 2-2-4 working shift pattern had been in place for over 30 years inWest Yorkshire, so we were under no illusion that this change would be a major upheaval for our staff. To ensure that we addressed the practical and very understandable wariness of staff in the face of change we undertook comprehensivemeaningful consultation and communication exercises to share the purpose and benefits of the proposed changes. …

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