Categories: Projects

NFCC launches its Direct Entry Scheme project


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The National Fire Chiefs Council has launched a new scheme, the Direct Entry Scheme project, that will be the start of an 18-month project which will see the design and development of a scheme ready for recruitment in September 2022. 

The scheme has been commissioned through the NFCC Leadership project, alongside several other initiatives to support the development of leaders within the sector and will be led by two Project Executives: CFO Dawn Whittaker (East Sussex FRS) and CFO Rod Hammerton (Shropshire FRS).

Exciting time for Direct Entry Scheme

The council claim that now is an “exciting time” to introduce a national Direct Entry Scheme, as part of a broader range of options to attract people to the sector.

The DES will be a framework to support people entering the sector at Station and Area Manager levels to undertake operational roles that align with the existing role maps. It will be a national agreed programme that is robust, quality-assured, and credible. It will be centrally coordinated and supported at a national level, even if it is delivered at a regional and local level.

This enables the scheme to be overseen nationally and provide consistency, which is essential for sustainable success. It is envisaged that the Station Manager programme will be three years and Area Manager two years. The programmes will be designed to give an attractive and compelling proposition to a broader range of candidates, with existing leadership experience outside the sector, who might not have normally seen the FRS as a prospective career.

It will be designed to be both additional and complementary to existing progression routes to ensure we continue to nurture and develop our internal fire sector staff.

Nationally, there have been several direct entry schemes delivered in the sector, but they have varied significantly, and this inconsistency has produced mixed results. There is some valuable learning to be drawn from those schemes, the first of which occurred in 2004.

There are national issues around sustainability and succession planning of leadership in the sector. We know from the 2019 State of Fire and Rescue report the HMICFRS concluded (Part 2, pg.129) that there is “a lack of diversity among leadership” and encouraged the sector to consider the identification of the most talented and capable leaders available. The current predominant singular route to leadership does not enable different people with different skills acquired elsewhere to join and enhance/enrich the fire sector in operational roles. By introducing the scheme, we can broaden the diversity of thinking and experience into the sector.   

NFCC listened to the worries and concerns about such schemes and want to reassure colleagues that it will apply a robust and transparent process to the development phase, where you will be able to have your say.

Communicating with the fire sector is fundamental to this project, and we have already completed an initial stakeholder analysis. Direct Entry workshops have taken place with those involved in the national Leadership survey, and this is something we want to continue. 

The business case identifies many benefits for the fire sector in introducing such a scheme with several of them listed below:

  • A national robust, credible, quality-assured programme with an opportunity for a local, tailored solution
  • Introduction of different leadership styles and difference in thinking to augment and strengthen our sector’s leadership
  • An accredited, consistent sector scheme for direct entry
  • A cadre of fully competent AMs and SMs assessed to agreed national standards
  • Managed centrally, to ease the burden on local resources
  • Central training models with local rotations and application of learning
  • Increased diversity of applicants for posts
  • Improved numbers of applicants for leadership roles
  • Enhanced reputation with external stakeholders
  • Enhanced reputation as employers
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