The Fire Service speaks out

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. The Fire Service speaks outOn 10 Dec 2002 in Personnel Today As the fire dispute heads towards resolution, Paul Nelson asks CarolMcCletchie, HR director at Cleveland Fire Service, about the burning issues ofpay and modernisationQ Do current shift patterns need to be changed and part-time and flexibleworking options introduced to encourage increased diversity in the fireservice? A The Fire Service is a front-line service whose effectivefunctioning is essential to the quality of life, through preservation andsafeguarding of life, property, and our economic and social fabric. We arewell-regarded by the public and the service is effective in many aspects of itsperformance. But it is also a service in need of change and reform; a service, which hasto consider new ways of working, and which needs to attract a more diverseworkforce that better reflects the community it serves. Currently, 99 per centof firefighters are male and 98.5 per cent are white. We need to consider how to better deploy staff and other resources, andintroduce other shift patterns – including part-time working – to boostdiversity, flexibility, create a family-friendly environment, and expandcommunity safety work and other activities dependent on local need. Q Should firefighters be able to work overtime? A Firefighters should be allowed to work voluntary pre-plannedovertime, thereby increasing the available resources to meet demand but also toboost their individual earnings. Conversely, the service is creating family-friendly policies, inclusive ofan appropriate work-life balance, which adheres to the requirements of theWorking Time Directive. Hence, the choice is an individual one, but there needs to be theflexibility to enable it to happen. Q Should part-time firefighters be able to work alongside full-timefirefighters? A In respect of the role they undertake, a firefighter is afirefighter, regardless of the terms of conditions of employment. Theimplementation of the Integrated Personal Development System (IPDS) willspecify the role of a firefighter and not differentiate between employmentstatuses. This means all firefighters will undertake the same role, andtherefore working arrangements are not an issue. Q Should paramedic training be introduced? A One of the main drivers for change in the Fire Service isbroadening the range of its work. Equally, in dealing with emergencies, thepublic expects the police, fire and ambulance services to work closelytogether. Consideration of collaborative working between emergency servicesmust include the provision of first response medical care where lives could besaved. In practice, where the ambulance service is unable to respond quickly enoughto an emergency and it is practical and cost effective to do so, it makesabsolute sense for the Fire Service, with proper training and equipment, toassist and provide an improved service to the public. Q The Bain Report calls for HR to be mainstreamed in the Fire Service tomove away from a militaristic culture. Is this fair? A The Fire Service is creating a culture which enhances its new rolewithin the community it serves. Good people management should be part of everymanager’s portfolio. As an HR director, one of my roles is to ensure HR isstrategic. Q Is the Government right that a big pay claim can only be achievedalongside modernisation? A The Government has made its position clear – decisions on pay mustreflect and support the Government’s priority of reforming and improving publicservices. Pay and workforce reforms play a key role in improving the deliveryof customer-focused public services. Therefore, while Fire Service staff should be recognised for thecontribution they make to the delivery of good public services, and beappropriately rewarded, the pay must be balanced with modernisation whichincludes improved effectiveness, more flexible ways of working, performing newroles and acquiring new skills, as well as efficiency savings. Q How do you see the dispute being resolved? Is 16 per cent the right paydeal? A Through constructive negotiation. The right pay deal will be theagreement that brings an early resolution to the dispute. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more