Fire and Rescue Services are being urged to adopt an innovative quality assurance process to further professionalise workforces – and potentially save six-figure sums.
The Fire and Rescue Service Quality Assurance Framework, offered exclusively by sector specialist SFJ Awards, is recommended by the Fire Brigades Union and is bringing significant cost savings to services.
Some five services have so far adopted the process, with Dorset Fire and Rescue confirming that the process had saved them a minimum of £80,000 in this current financial year.
Northamptonshire, Oxford, Bedfordshire and West Yorkshire services have also adopted the framework, which allows services to pay developmental rates of pay until promoted Fire Fighters or officers are deemed competent – in accordance with the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services.
Fire and Rescue Services typically pay a development rate of pay to employees who are in the process of progressing to a more senior role, such as a Fire Fighter working to become a Crew Manager. In order to pay this rate, the development programmes must be approved by an organisation recognised by Ofqual. As an Ofqual approved awarding organisation, SFJ Awards’ Quality Assurance Framework helps services every step of the way to ensure their development programmes meet the requisite criteria.
Fire and Rescue Services and the Fire Brigade Union were consulted during the development of the process in order to ensure that it meets employer needs.
SFJ Awards Manager Steve Batty said: “In response to the views from employers, we have created a process which offers more than just an audit. By interviewing learners, managers and union representatives in order to understand the learning process from all parties, the process goes beyond a simple review of procedures against criteria.
“Its annual assessment requirement ensures that quality is maintained by Fire and Rescue Services. And with an option to have a follow up feedback meeting with the auditor including a presentation of the findings to senior management, this new process really does add value to the fire and rescue sector and exceeds expectations.
“Fire and Rescue Services following the process can be confident they have a strong infrastructure in place to deliver high quality development programmes.”
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue is the latest service to come on board. Paul Greenwood, of the service, said: “We are pleased that we’ve been able to confirm that our development programmes processes and arrangements meet the high standards of this external quality assurance process. We look forward to the continued support of SFJ Awards in ensuring our current standards are maintained.”
As well as offering the Framework, SFJ Awards offers 20 qualifications – Levels 2 to 7 – specifically for the fire and rescue sector, as well as offering a wide range of leadership and management qualifications.
To find out more about the Quality Assurance Framework or how SFJ Awards helps employers and employees, call 0114 231 7379 or email firstname.lastname@example.org