First key milestone hit in scheme to bring new leaders into fire and rescue services

The first milestone has been reached by those participating in the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Direct Entry scheme that will bring new leaders into fire and rescue services (FRS). Six ‘Direct Entrants’ marked the end of six weeks of intensive operational training with a pass-out ceremony on Friday 16th February at the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh. This represents a key landmark in a rigorous three-year course that sees the entrants immersed in operational, leadership, and strategic training.

Leaders have been entering the fire and rescue sector via direct entry for the last 20 years. Last year, NFCC launched the first nationally accredited programme aimed at bringing consistency and assurance to direct entry in the sector. Five fire and rescue services are participating in the pilot: East Sussex FRS, Staffordshire FRS, Oxfordshire FRS, Avon FRS and Leicestershire FRS.

The Direct Entry Station Managers started their training shortly before Christmas and have been put through their paces for six weeks at the Fire Service College where they have been instructed in the use of pumps and ladders, operating breathing apparatus, managing hazardous materials, delivering fire response emergency care, and more. Following the pass-out, they will return to their respective fire and rescue services to consolidate that learning in an operational environment. Whilst developing operational competence, Direct Entry Station Managers will not be taking operational decisions at this stage of their development.

NFCC said direct entry could be one of many valuable tools in ensuring the sector can meet the complex challenges with which it is faced – providing diversity in thought, skills and experience. The scheme is designed to work alongside traditional routes to progression, widening the pool of talent from which fire and rescue services can recruit.

Project Executive, Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker, said:

“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.”

Project Executive, Chief Fire Officer Rob Barber, said:

“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.”

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