National Fire Chiefs Council marks progress in Leadership Development Programme

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New Phase in Direct Entry Scheme for Fire and Rescue Leaders

The National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Direct Entry scheme, an initiative designed to inject new leadership into fire and rescue services, has reached its first significant milestone.

This development marks the culmination of six weeks of rigorous operational training for six ‘Direct Entrants’.

The pass-out ceremony, held on 16th February at the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh, celebrated this achievement, which is part of a comprehensive three-year course encompassing operational, leadership, and strategic training.

For the past two decades, leaders have been entering the fire and rescue sector through direct entry.

However, in the previous year, the NFCC launched the first nationally accredited programme to bring consistency and assurance to this route in the sector.

The pilot includes participation from five fire and rescue services: East Sussex FRS, Staffordshire FRS, Oxfordshire FRS, Avon FRS, and Leicestershire FRS.

Intensive Training and Future Steps

The Direct Entry Station Managers began their training before Christmas, undergoing a six-week intensive programme at the Fire Service College.

Their training included mastering various crucial skills such as operating pumps and ladders, using breathing apparatus, managing hazardous materials, delivering fire response emergency care, and more.

Following their pass-out, these managers will return to their respective services to apply their newly acquired skills in real-world scenarios.

At this stage of their development, they will focus on building operational competence without taking on operational decision-making roles.

NFCC views direct entry as a valuable tool to address the complex challenges faced by the sector.

This scheme aims to provide diversity in thought, skills, and experience, complementing traditional progression routes and expanding the talent pool for recruitment in fire and rescue services.

Leaders’ Perspectives on the Programme

Project Executive, Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker, commented on the programme’s demands: “I know from having entered service through direct entry myself, that it requires you to be physically and mentally tough.

“This first phase of the training programme has given Direct Entry Station Managers their first proper taste of that challenge, and they’ve risen to it.”

Similarly, Project Executive, Chief Fire Officer Rob Barber addressed common misconceptions about the scheme: “There are a lot of myths around Direct Entry, one of them being that we’re parachuting people into station manager roles – that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“We’re only at the very start of what is an intensive and tough three-year programme.

“These six weeks at the Fire Service College have set the pace for what’s to come and there’s a way to go yet.”

IFSJ Comment

The NFCC’s Direct Entry scheme represents a forward-thinking approach in enhancing leadership within the fire and rescue services.

This programme, balancing intensive training with gradual immersion in operational roles, illustrates a commitment to nurturing well-rounded leaders equipped for the diverse challenges of modern fire and rescue operations.

By complementing traditional career paths with this innovative scheme, the NFCC not only diversifies its leadership but also enriches the sector with fresh perspectives and skill sets.

This initiative could serve as a model for other sectors seeking to evolve their leadership training and recruitment strategies.

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