Fire PRO

From the committee

Time to embrace the chaos

This year's FirePRO Chair James Morton lays out a three-point plan for negotiating fire service comms in 2017...

November's FirePRO conference, as usual, provided countless golden nuggets of inspiration and insight. But one phrase, above all, stuck with me - embrace the chaos. 

PR is Dead author Robert Phillips (pictured below) talked about the erosion of trust in the leadership of public services and that the ability to control the message is consigned to a pre-social media past. Embracing the chaos, he argued, is the only way to reconnect with communities. 

Robert Phillips

Right now, it sounds like less of a guiding principle and more like our standard operating position. 

In the last few months alone, we have seen the publication of the Thomas Review, the enacting of the new Policing and Crime Act, the Fire Minister's latest speech on reform and the ongoing restructuring of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) to the new National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC). Each of these are causing seismic shockwaves across our services in various ways and there's no question us comms types will become entangled in the changes that begin to emerge from the chaos. 

What should we brace ourselves for? Some of the possible impacts of the reform agenda were covered in this newsletter last year, but the duty to collaborate enshrined in the new Act will mean us working increasingly closely with blue light comms colleagues. The Thomas Review, meanwhile, highlights the need for a campaign to raise awareness of the broad range of activities fire and rescue services undertake to protect our communities.

One of FirePRO's main aims this year is to take a lead role in influencing the direction of our own destiny - and that involves each and every one of us. How? Here's our handy three-point plan:

  1. Join our #NotJustFires campaign - we're picking up the baton of the Thomas Review and launching the #NotJustFires campaign. We're pulling together the finest comms minds in the fire service - i.e you lot - to deliver some cracking content and ideas. More detail can be found on the CFOA forum but for it to be a truly national initiative, we'll need support from Cumbria to Cornwall and everywhere in between, so get involved! 

  2. Be part of the conversation - through our national and regional committees, FirePRO will be feeding into the work being done nationally at the Home Office and CFOA/NFCC, so the people actually delivering the comms and campaigns - that's us, by the way - can shape the way things are done in the future. Your voice can and will be heard, so make sure you join your regional FirePRO meeting, contact your local rep, have your say on the CFOA forum or in this newsletter, or come along to one of this year's FirePRO events. Which brings us on nicely to...

  3. Feel the love - FirePRO's biggest strength is the support network it provides for our FRS comms community. We're all here for each other and the series of events we'll be holding this year will provide plenty of opportunity to vent, share, learn and drink tea (obvs). They'll be Unconferences to discuss the big issues bugging you, skills workshops to provide training in the most important areas and, of course, the annual conference later in the year. No matter how busy you are or how small your team is, there is no better time spent than sharing and learning from colleagues, so we'll see you all there! 



FirePRO committee and objectives

As people working in a fire service communication or marketing role come and go, we realise not everyone will be aware of the role of FirePRO, how it is structured and how you can get involved in shaping our work.

With this in mind, FirePRO's aims and objectives, are published here.

Below is a list of current national committee members, the region's they represent and email addresses should you wish to get in touch:

FirePRO Regional Reps


South East

East / NW

South West

North East 

North West

North West

Yorks & Humber

East Midlands

West Midlands







#NotJustFires- send us your video content


At the FirePRO conference at the end of last year, an idea was born to run a national campaign addressing the comment made in the Thomas Review around the lack of public awareness of the role of the modern day firefighter/FRS. (That's somewhat an abbreviated version but you all understand me).

Since then, a few of us have bumped our heads together and would like to push forward a free idea that everyone can get involved in.

It starts by each FRS sending in a maximum 45 seconds of video content (can be a mix of one long clip or multiple short videos) showing examples of what their firefighters do that is not just fires (you can see where the hashtag grew from!). A selection of the videos - ensuring every FRS and every angle is covered - will be compiled together and then made available for all to use. We'll hit the social media sphere with the content, bash out other local examples with the hashtag and go from there.

Other ideas further down the pipeline include an agreed date nationally that we ALL do a 24 hour tweetathon on highlighting what else FRS do #notjustfires

We would also really like this content to address the other big talking point at the minute of diversity/positive action/inclusion in the FRS.

What next?

Email with a link to a dropbox or WeTransfer with your video content. Please mark the file clearly with who you are so we can make sure everyone is included.

Deadline: Monday, March 11 midday

Examples of what you could shoot (or if you've already got footage, that's perfect!):

- Safe and Well visit

- Training carers

- Work with health organisations

- Youth schemes

- Education in schools

- Work in prison

- Police partnership work - modern slavery, sexual exploitation etc

- Working with landlords

- Multi-agency hubs

- Fire setter intervention

- Supporting Pride

- Open days

- Charity work

- Dementia awareness

- Mind blue light/health and wellbeing

- Co-responding

This list is not exhaustive and all our firefighters do different things.

Let us know your thoughts - get in touch with Leanne Ehren ( or FirePRO Chair James Morton ( with any questions.

Home Office plea for insights on On-Call Firefighter recruitment campaigns

The Strategic Communications team within the Home Office is leading on a research project to develop effective communications messages for recruitment of On-Call Fire Fighters (OCFFs). The findings from the research will inform communications products (recruitment campaign materials) which can be used by Fire and Rescue Services as required.

They are working with a specialist research agency who will be speaking to current OCFF, ex-OCFF and potential recruits to find out more about the barriers and motivations of becoming an OCFF. The research agency will also be speaking to employers about employing OCFF within their organisations.

What we need from you:

The Strategic Communications team need to hear from Fire and Rescue Services to find out more about your local On-Call Firefighters recruitment campaigns. In particular

  • how you identify channels and audiences for recruitment campaigns
  • any evaluation and insight into what works/doesn’t with recruitment campaigns
  • what sort of centrally produced communications products you would find useful (we will work with Fire and Rescue Services to develop these products)

The information from the research agency and from above will help to inform a central resource of communications products which Fire and Rescue Services can use to support local recruitment campaigns.

Contact Kerry Charlesworth by Friday 03 March 2017:

Please contact Kerry Charlesworth from the Home Office Strategic Communications team in the Home Office on if you have any information on your local On-Call Firefighters recruitment campaigns which you would be able to share with her, or if you are interested in knowing more about this project.  

FRS communicators asked for feedback on Fire Kills campaign


The Home Office is currently leading a strategic review which will determine the direction of fire safety communications. This will include reviewing the campaign messages and adverts, how the campaign communicates with key audience groups and perceptions of the Fire Kills visual identity and tone of voice.

As part of the review they want to hear from Fire and Rescue Services about what they think about the campaign and what they think are the important fire safety and prevention messages which we should be giving to the public to prevent domestic fires

To share your views, use the survey below

Case studies and interesting reading

How to not reach Christmas number one- but still raise awareness amongst millions

Chip PanHave you ever heard of the Everly Pregnant Brothers? Well here in South Yorkshire, they’re quite a big deal. Full of satire and joviality, the eclectic ukulele group take some of the biggest hits and give them a somewhat, creative twist.

So you can imagine our delight when we got wind of one of their more successful numbers, Chip Pan, singing the perils of cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol. And in the words of Aerosmith, it started with a little tweet, like this...

The band set the date, we set the filming location and we rendezvoused on a cold November morning in Central fire station. The beauty of this was that it took away the bureaucracy of deliberating over which watch would be best to feature in the video – we had to go with the watch on duty. What a fantastic day for all involved, not least the watch manager there to ‘facilitate’, who later became the lead role in the video. Six hours later, the band vacated with a ton of footage and, quite honestly, there was a bit of a buzz about the place.

Once the video was ready, we published it on social media and I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for the response. Within 24 hours it received a quarter of a million views and within three days we’d reached half a million. With the smell of festive cheer in the air, there was only one thing for it – tackling Christmas number one.

So calling in favours from the past, present and future we got to work with local media contacts taking a bit of a tongue in cheek approach. Things escalated quickly, and before we knew it we had not only national, but, global coverage. Staff from across the organisation really got behind the bid and there was a real sense of unity, something which became the most valuable outcome of the campaign.

It was not without its lows though, when the views started to dwindle, and a popular bookmakers doubled our odds. If there’s one thing we learnt it’s the importance of weathering the emotional storm that is the music industry, because every time we hit a low, we would shortly experience an epic high. First it was being invited to the band’s sell out gig for a performance on stage. Then it was Look North visiting us on station for a live recording. Then Channel 4’s Last Leg got in touch ... and just as we thought we had achieved everything possible, we got invited on the BBC Breakfast sofa!

So what did we actually achieve? Well, not a Christmas number one, that’s for sure. But actually, the outcomes of this campaign were, well, priceless. For the first time in a long time morale was high within the organisation. People were talking about it – there was a real sense of excitement in the air. Central red watch were a part of something huge – and even their families were getting behind the camera to support their bid. Fellow firefighters, support staff and even the Chief were rallying for the win – and we achieved all of this internal engagement for the price of ten t-shirts. It just goes to show, with a little imagination and a sprinkle of festive cheer, you really can make anything happen.

Find out more about the campaign on Storify here

- Laura Keen, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue


Elf-help produces huge Christmas social engagement for FRS teams


ENTANGLED in fairy lights, stuck in floods, taking ‘elfies and drink driving to name but a few…the fire service Elf on the Shelf was up to all sorts of antics in December as FirePRO worked collectively for a Christmas campaign.

Each service tweeted a photo of the elf each day to get across a different safety message or promote the work of fire and rescue services. They nominated another service to take up the challenge the following day, with each fire service encouraged to retweet the posts.

The tweets reached over 260,000 people over the 25 days ending with a video from Greater Manchester stating the elf’s messages should be for life not just for Christmas.

Hayley Douglas, Head of Media and Communication for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “It was great to have so many fire service communication teams support the idea, which came about during a conversation around the lunch table at the FirePRO conference. We all have the same messages we want to get across in the run up to Christmas and so this was a way of saving some time and effort by only having to do one each. Thanks to everyone who took part.”

Hayley added: “We now have 10 months to plan something bigger and better for next Christmas!”

West Sussex' DIY video to promote diverse recruitment

West Sussex

Last year West Sussex FRS launched its first wholetime recruitment for eight years. All applications were snapped up within 24 hours and our first dozen firefighters passed out last August, leaving us with a dozen recruits in reserve, who have just started their training with us.

In December I was invited to a meeting to discuss what we could do to encourage greater diversity in our next recruitment drive – launching in the first week of February.

With Christmas and New Year looming, time wasn’t on our side so I decided to focus on roles within the FRS you might not be aware of, which just happen to be carried out by some of our female firefighters. My idea was each individual used in the film would say the same line – Think you know the fire and rescue service? Think again! I deliberately tried to avoid any stereotypes or language that could cause offence.

Two of us worked on our hastily planned film and we involved staff ranging from one of our new 2016 intake, to a Station Manager, and included other less well known roles, such as a female member of our Technical Rescue Unit in charge of a rescue boat.

It’s a sensitive area – but, so far, we’ve received very positive feedback. We should know later this year if it has had the impact we are hoping for.

You can view the video we produced here

- Claire Byrd, West Sussex FRS

On the portal

Share great work on the FirePRO message forum


Are you in desperate need of a photo of a cooking fire?

Do you have a great poster or campaign you want to share?

Do you have an amazing idea for some social media content that you're convinced is going to go viral?

The CFOA Communities FirePRO discussion thread could be the place to share it.

Can't see the messages? You probably need to register for a free CFOA Communities account. Click here to register

FirePRO events

Sign-up for FirePRO unconference in London

You spoke, we listened! People of the FirePRO community wanted a safe space to share ideas, learn best practice and discuss the issues that matters most and work together to solve them.

So we're putting on a series of unconferences in 2017 and the first one is next month.

At an unconference the attendees set the agenda, break off into different groups and can maximise their learning by attending different sessions and swapping notes with others.

Positive action is such a hot topic, the FirePRO committee has decided the first one hour of every unconference this year will be dedicated to it. After that, the floor is open, you decide what you want and need.

What are you waiting for? Register your place!

FirePRO Unconference #1
Thursday, March 9, 2017, 10-4
London Fire Brigade HQ, London

If you would like to go - and there is no maximum or restrictions as to how many people per FRS can attend - you MUST register! There is a minimum number of people needed to make these awesome discussions happen so we need to know who is coming and how many people.

Email: to register your place(s) as soon as possible.

Further unconference events are planned in June (Manchester) and September (Bath), plus we are developing some further training sessions along the lines of those which were set up last year. We'll share news of each of those events nearer the time.

FirePRO annual conference to return in November

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2016 FirePRO conference in Birmingham- the feedback we received on all of the speakers was really positive.

We will be holding another event this year in November with an agenda packed full of some of the best speakers from both within and outside the fire sector.

The agenda will be put together over the coming months, but don't wait for that to be circulated before getting it on your training requests for the coming year!

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