Grasping the opportunities: Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive of Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service Brian Tregunna, responds to Wayne McCollin and Jagtar Singh's 'Missed Opportunities' article in the March edition of FIRE.(Comment)

THE FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE HAS undoubtedly missed several opportunities to improve it performance with regard to equality and diversity. I find myself agreeing with most of the views expressed by Wayne and Jagtar, and they present a range of convincing evidence to support their case. I attended the 2007 CFOA conference where Wayne explained their shared findings in some detail and, whilst some of the examples of missed opportunities are uncomfortable to consider, there is no benefit to be gained by being in denial.

Notwithstanding this rather negative perspective, I was encouraged by some of the more positive aspects of Wayne's presentation and the conclusion of their published article which identifies various causes for optimism. After all, we need to look forward rather than backwards and determine how we are going to actually improve the Service not just dwell on past mistakes. I therefore intend to focus on the future and my own views of how we can best achieve the required service improvements.

The new national Equality and Diversity Strategy sets out a constructive framework for service improvement and must be the opportunity that we all grasp. It simply cannot be another missed opportunity. To borrow NASA's catchphrase of the 1960s: 'Failure is not an option'!

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So what are these opportunities that we must grasp? Firstly, in my opinion, the opportunity to create a national leadership partnership that involves all key stakeholders in the development of nationwide policies and procedures. …

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