Dr Anne Eyre previews this week's annual conference on Fire-Related Research and Developments. 

Supported jointly by the Institution of Fire Engineers and the Fire Service College, the event takes place at the Fire Service College, Moreton-in-Marsh on Thursday November 17. Continuing endorsement of the work annually showcased in this event is also reflected in the inclusion of the Gore/FIRE magazine Annual Awards, to be presented at RE11 to the oral and poster presentations demonstrating best value, relevance and originality.


Challenging Times for Fire Services

Continuing economic hardship is requiring all public bodies, including fire and rescue services, to make difficult decisions over budgets and resource allocation. At RE11 a team from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service will address the question of Fire Service cover in the face of these challenges. They will present a case study of the preparation and development of the ongoing Fire Cover Review arising out of the Integrated Risk Management Planning process applied across Nottinghamshire by NFRS. The overall aim of the research is to investigate the practical implementation of the IRMP to an FCR in a period of significant and ongoing resource reduction.

These challenges are not confined to our shores. Professor Bob England and Dr Tony Brown, both of Oklahoma State University, will discuss their research examining the extent to which the sagging economy has impacted the delivery of fire services in large US cities. Since December 2007 many metropolitan fire departments have been forced to engage in cutback management to balance budgets. Local newspapers tell stories of layoffs, reducing employee benefits, and closing sub-stations. 

Using survey data gathered from metropolitan fire departments, their research has systematically studied responses by metropolitan career fire departments to financial stress. Recessions are not new to the US economy. During a significant downturn of the economy in the 1970s an extensive literature was developed outlining how local governments at the time responded to financial pressures by doing more with less and engaging in cutback management. The present study is placed within this larger cutback management theoretical framework and has obvious implications for the UK context.


Community Engagement

In August CFOA praised fire and rescue services for their heavy involvement in the aftermath of the summer riots, both in firefighting and in clearing up operations on behalf of their local communities. Such incidents of urban rioting have also served to highlight the importance of understanding and engaging with local communities before civil unrest breaks out.

Partnership working and community engagement continues to be a prominent theme in projects involving fire services and other agencies, and examples of these will be showcased at RE11. Group Manager Mike Anderson, responsible for community fire safety in Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, will use his presentation to highlight the importance of Fire Service participation in Local Safeguarding Adult Boards and their sub-groups aimed at effectively contributing to safeguarding adults at risk from abuse and neglect. He argues that the Fire and Rescue Service is in a unique position to identify and respond to adult safeguarding concerns by virtue of its 'trusted friend' status in the eyes of many of society's most vulnerable people, be they in residential care settings or in independent living arrangements.

A further example of effective joint working is the Knowledge Transfer Partnership project currently being shared between Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Emergency Services Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University. Representatives of this partnership will discuss the development of evaluation strategies to measure the impact of community safety intervention in Nottinghamshire alongside a comparison of evaluation practices used by other fire and rescue services. This work will lead on to the identification of the issues which are preventing effective evaluation from taking place and lead to the development of recommendations for addressing these issues.

Visit www.fire-magazine.com to find out the winners of the Gore/FIRE Magazine Research Excellence Awards 2011.


Posted November 15th, 2011 at 1130 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: andrew.lynch@pavpub.com