First key milestone for new fire and rescue service leaders

The first milestone has been reached by those participating in the National Fire Chief Council’s (NFCC) Direct Entry scheme that will bring newleaders into fire and rescue services.

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.

Direct entry has played a role in recruiting leaders in the fire and rescue sector for two decades. In April 2023, NFCC launched the first nationally accredited programme aimed at bringing consistency and assurance to direct entry in the sector. Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is one of five fire and rescue services across the UK participating in the pilot.

Participants started their training shortly before Christmas and have undergone 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, and delivering fire response emergency care. They will return to their respective fire and rescue services now 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.

“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 entrants their first proper taste of that challenge, and they’ve risen to it.”

Project Executive, Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker

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. It says the scheme will work alongside traditional routes to progression, adding the best and brightest from outside the fire and rescue sector, to the broad talent base within.

“There are a lot of myths around direct entry, one of them being that we’re parachuting people in to 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.”

Project Executive, Chief Fire Officer Rob Barber
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