Back in 2014 we undertook a survey that was open to all Retained/On-Call personnel, asking questions relating to their contractual obligations, personal and appliance availability and most importantly, their opinions on the service as a whole.
No such survey had taken place in the past and the findings of the questionnaire were well received across the UK, so much so that we were asked by a number of stakeholders whether we would undertake another in a few years’ time to analyse whether there had been any change, so we did.
Again the response was fantastic, with approx. four thousand individual serving RDS staff providing their views.
How do the responses compare with the report from 2014? Well we would suggest you read the report and come to your own conclusion but our view is that while there is some extremely good work being undertaken in a number of fire and rescue services that have provided meaningful outcomes for their RDS staff, they are in a minority with a greater number of FRSs still not getting to grips with how to effectively run their local RDS causing low morale, high turnover of staff, difficulties in recruitment and poor appliance availability.
We will ensure that every Chief Fire Officer and Fire Authority Chair is provided with a copy of this report accompanied with an offer to work with any willing service to help improve working practices and recruitment initiatives for their On-Call staff.
On a positive note, there is some extremely innovative action that has been undertaken by a few services which demonstrates that if there is a will to improve there is also a way. Our role is to work with likeminded services and raise awareness to the relevant stakeholders that doing nothing is not an option.