The first 15 students will graduate from the ground-breaking BSc (Hons) Fire and Leadership Degree offered by the University of Central Lancashire in collaboration with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.
The pioneering concept, the brainchild of Lancashire's Chief Fire Officer Peter Holland, offers fire and rescue services a unique opportunity to recruit and fast-track potential operational officers through the single-tier entry system which still predominates UK fire and rescue services.
The course provides future leaders with a unique study programme that combines academic study of fire science and management with practical firefighting training, enabling those sponsored by a fire and rescue service to be qualified to ride on fire engines by the end of their first year. Uniquely, they only study academic subjects which will be practically useful to them as managers or officers in the Service including the management of health and safety, fire risk management and human resources.
The combination of bespoke development and academic qualification has made it particularly attractive to fire and rescue services. Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside and Cumbria have placed students on the course and many others have supported students by offering them placements or work experience or help with research topics.
Peter Holland, Lancashire's Chief Fire Officer, said: "The scheme is based on a blend of ideas I've observed from Fire and Rescue Services in Hong Kong and Poland which have a proven track record of effectively developing high performing senior officers.
"Most of our firefighter managers today have gained the additional skills needed for today's service retrospectively since their recruitment. The unique combination of fire science, management studies and involvement in operational firefighting provided by the course now gives us a pool of degree qualified individuals who can begin their careers having already learnt some of the key skills needed to be a successful manager in the Fire and Rescue Service."
Simon Cable, a Senior Lecturer at the University who was himself a senior fire officer in Lancashire, who retired from the service in 2008 said: "The age profile of Fire and Rescue Service staff has increased in recent years and managerial succession planning could become an issue in the near future. As part of an overall workforce development strategy, graduate entry provides an opportunity to recruit talented individuals who can aspire to be the future leaders and offers the potential to increase representation of BME and females in management roles, an issue which still needs to be addressed in many services.
"The Fire Service is an attractive career for many people. If every service in the country employed just one student from the course and developed them into a management role, the quality and academic standard for course entry could be set at the highest level. This would ensure that fire and rescue services have access to a pool of high academic achievers who could enrich the management potential of the fire and rescue services throughout the UK."
Aaron Collis, a student employed by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The course teaches you to take a strategic perspective. It is very much about the manager's viewpoint and what is best for the organisation. I have learnt a tremendous amount whilst I have been here and hope to progress once I take up my role."
The course is extremely popular, with 100 enrolled and applications increase each academic year. A part-time option for Service officers commenced in 2011.
The course content has not changed significantly from the initial inception and is predominantly aimed at giving the student a good understanding of the issues facing a strategic manager in a large public sector organisation and dealing with the day-to-day corporate risks. Also included is an element of science and maths designed to strengthen knowledge and understanding of fundamental technical issues.
For further information visit http://www.uclan.ac.uk/information/courses/bsc_hons_fire_and_leadership_studies.php
Posted April 26th, 2012 at 1110 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org