Home Office agenda highlights FirePRO strengths
FirePRO Chair Alex Mills (South Yorkshire FRS) updates members on developments since the launch of the Fire Reform Programme and its implications for fire service communication teams.
The Government launched its Fire Reform Programme last month and, even if it doesn’t feel like it yet, the implications for fire service communication teams will be significant.
A major theme of the (then) Home Secretary’s speech was changing workforce culture. One of the many drivers of this, as we know from staff surveys which may have been carried out in our respective services, is the quality and frequency of internal communication. Communication teams already play a vital role in putting in place effective internal communication channels, as well as reminding leaders on the important role they play in influencing this. It’s timely therefore that FirePRO is organising an internal communication training workshop, which you can read about elsewhere in this newsletter.
Another area of scrutiny is improving the diversity of our workforces so they properly reflect the communities they serve. Again, communication teams will be at the heart of this as we are tasked by our organisations with delivering creative, targeted positive action recruitment campaigns. We heard about some excellent work in this area at last year’s conference and should continue to share our ideas and case studies, either through this newsletter, the CFOA message forum or FirePRO’s network of regional meetings.
The Government also wants to make fire services more transparent, elements of which will inevitably also fall at the door of communication teams as we are required to publish more and more information online. At a time when many of us face reviews or further cuts to our teams, working out how to do ‘more with less’ remains a major challenge. Perhaps this will be a topic for further discussion at this year’s conference, the dates of which have now been confirmed.
Lastly, there is clearly a desire both nationally and within our local services to do more to make the public aware of the broad range of work fire and rescue services deliver, beyond responding to 999 calls. One of the tools we can use to highlight this work most powerfully is video, therefore it’s brilliant to have had such positive feedback about the video skills workshop FirePRO organised in Birmingham in May.
FirePRO has established good links within the Home Office communication team who are keen to work with local communication teams, particularly in respect of ministerial visits. We will also continue to work closely with the team behind the Fire Kills campaign, which has also now transferred formally over to the Home Office.
As a network though, we are strongest when sharing content, success stories and local challenges and I very much hope that continues through yet another period of significant change.