Case study 1- Cheshire FRS
Dealing with emergencies such as flooding and attending major incidents is core to the role of fire and rescue services - this is where risk is at its highest! Operational Competence should have real meaning in this context. A person is operational competent only when they can apply their skills, knowledge and understanding at operational incidents or in realistic simulation.
That is why - we fully support the use of National Occupational Standards to measure and train our workforce to a national standard. This work also supports fire and rescue to ensure that their people are able to fulfil the operational demands they face and develop a safe and competent operational workforce.
This statement was endorsed by Steve Barnes, Group Manager, Head of Operations Assurance
Case study 2 – West Yorkshire FRS
“Decisions about value for money are a daily reality” that is why West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, use National Occupational Standards (NOS). NOS are statements of performance individuals are expected to demonstrate to be confirmed as competent when carrying out activities in the workplace. NOS describe what an individual needs to be able to do, as well as what they need to know and understand. They provide a means for FRS to develop their workforce and to assess their competence in the workplace or in realistic simulation to a national standard. They provide a practical route for assessing competence against nationally agreed standards of performance, across all operational roles.
For operational competence, NOS help provide a consistent approach to support planning, delivering, measuring, and assessing performance. This statement was endorsed by Steve Rhodes, AM - POD
Case Study 3 – Humberside Fire and Rescue Service
We continue to develop our workforce planning, training and development strategies. Our learning and development programmes and assessment processes closely aligned to National Occupational Standards that play a key role in underpinning our learning and development processes. The core skill and knowledge of the Firefighter or Operational Commander can be easily understood and recognised within the visual context of a fire appliance and the eight key areas associated with driving, command and control, breathing apparatus, hazardous material, water/water safety, extrication/rescue and casualty care.
We use common standards developed to enable us to improve the skills of our workforce now and into the future. This statement was endorsed by Simon Donnachie, Station Manager - Personal Development / HR Team
Case Study 4 - Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service – Operational Knowledge Testing
Further to his work as the L&D Workforce Development Officer within Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service (HFRS), GM Mick Thompson developed an operational knowledge test in response to the question posed by service delivery : "How can HFRS be assured that our incident commanders have a sound operational knowledge base on which to make critical decisions?”
Through extensive research and partnership working with the HFRS Service Delivery team Mick proposed an additional activity to the Supervisory Managers promotional ADC process. This was to provide a specific Operational Knowledge test to ensure that all potential Supervisory Managers were equipped with the necessary Operational policy and procedure knowledge and understanding to carry out this role to the required level of competence. Mick devised an online multiple choice knowledge test that was then incorporated into the HFRS Supervisory Managers ADC process. Full information and guidance was provided to candidates, and full agreement was gained across Service Delivery and Training & Development as to the necessary subjects and areas that would be tested. Candidates were provided with comprehensive reading lists and an understanding that certain areas would require higher levels of achievement, based on a risk weighting system (i.e. Incident Command would be more risk critical). Mick ensured that a comprehensive Quality Assurance process was in place regarding the testing system to ensure fairness and equality to all, as well as ensuring validity and reliability to the results.
Mick instigated a full evaluation process from the start of the process, that provides continuous improvement and future proofing on an on-going basis. The success of Mick's work has lead to many regional FRS partners, and beyond, taking up the K&U testing system as well as the system being further developed within HFRS to encompass Supervisory Managers from Control and Middle Managers.
Case Study 5 - North Yorkshire FRS – FF Development Programme
Following from the initial work of Lincolnshire FRS, NYFRS Development Manager (Penny Sutton) has further developed the competence assessment process with regard to FF Development.
Penny has further developed colour coded assessment observation booklets that provide an excellent system of recording FF Development activities across the key risk and procedural activities of FF’s in North Yorkshire. The recording and colour coding system allows, at a glance, a clear indication of FF progress within the development process as well as highlighting potential areas of weakness (where further support is then provided), and areas of particular strength. Assessment is well planned and provides excellent opportunities for naturally occurring events (such operational incidents and community safety activities) to form the predominant source of evidence of competence as well as the ability to cross reference holistic training and assessment events to the required criteria. Observations are supported by line managers, expert witnesses and independent assessors to ensure consistency in the assessment decisions and the attainment of competence to be valid and reliable. Additional workbooks and exercises are also included to provide a variety of activity to the learners and to provide further Knowledge and Understanding development to support actual work performance. Full involvement of the NYFRS Operational Delivery and Training teams in the development of this programme has provided assurance that the required outcome for the Service is achieved (i.e. competent Firefighters through initial acquisition, training and development). Penny has also worked hard to ensure that the programme is aligned to the FF national competence model (the ‘fire appliance’ model as developed by CFOA).
The awarding body SV for NYFRS has also endorsed their FF Development Programme in fully meeting the requirements of the NVQ Level 3 Operations in the Community (Diploma) and has commended the use of the programme, along with the personal diary system, in providing an excellent and realistic pathway to competence in role.
Case Study 6 - Fire Service College Incident Command Courses
National Occupational Standards (NOS) have been at the heart of the transformational changes to course content here at the College, particularly for the newly transformed Incident Command courses. It was critical for us to use a blended learning approach, utilising different learning technologies which allows the Fire Professional to be developed and assessed, against the NOS.
The courses themselves were transformed through utilising e-learning, supported pre-course assignments, webinars, workshops and practical application on both the incident ground and in our immersive simulation suite. Regardless of the technology used to deliver the courses, all activities are mapped against the specific performance criteria and accompanying knowledge and understanding which make up the NOS and which forms the basis of the course’s Learning Outcomes.
The new course offering and blended learning approach has enabled us to deliver a more effective ICL1, 2 and 3 in three days at the College rather than the previous 5 days, where development begins before arrival through pre-learning work, again linked to NOS.
Our ICL course offering comes complete with accreditation through the qualifications offered by Skills for Justice.