A word from the FirePro Committee Chair
Satisfaction is an interesting concept. Mick Jagger can’t get any. The rapper Ludacris aims to make people satisfied, even if it kills him (a high risk strategy, which I don’t suggest we adopt). And the police (the actual police, not the band) find that 61% of people are satisfied with them. Not a bad score, but certainly not backslapping territory.
And yet for ourselves in the fire and rescue sector, satisfaction comes very easily, with HMICFRS’s Public Perceptions of Fire and Rescue Services research finding that 73% of people are satisfied with the sector and 90% feel confident that we’re providing an effective service. This is despite most people never needing to call upon our services.
Great, happy days, let’s pour a cup of tea, sit back and bask in the glow of always being the heroes. And yes, we should be proud that we’re keeping public confidence in us high, but we shouldn’t feel too comfortable. We know that globally trust in institutions is waning – highlighted in the latest Edelman Trust Barometer – and that wholesale change is needed in the sector – as highlighted in the recent State of Fire and Rescue Services report.
This is where open, honest and transparent communications is needed. Because when we try to change what people are already comfortable with, we will see a backlash. Ask yourself: how often are you honest with the public about the challenges your service faces? Or do you just show the heroic acts and the shiny kit and gloss over the poor availability, the lack of diversity, and the struggle to recruit and maintain on call crews (the survey also showed people have a low understanding of the how their local station is staffed)? The latter may be uncomfortable, but it is this honesty that will build trust and keep people satisfied in our services when change happens.
Probably the most honest campaign in the world
CASE STUDY: Carlsberg's honest campaign
With the State of Fire report, HMICFRS has set the tone for early discussions in 2020, but for FirePRO our focus this year on standards and development. This follows on from last year, when set about reorganising the National Committee, launching our constitution and focusing on delivering another successful conference in November.
We’re working with the Fire Standards Board, HMICFRS and our colleagues at the Government Communications Service to set a professional standard for the sector. This will provide an understanding of what is needed to have a successful communications function within a service and set out steps for services to achieve the standards.
We will also plan a development programme for the year to give you access to high quality training and development. This will be focused on some of the areas you identified in last year’s sector-wide survey, but if there’s anything you feel you need training or development on, please let us know email@example.com
We know during these times of austerity, which is still very much pinching the sector, training budgets are often the first thing to be sacrificed. This is why the development programme will be affordable and accessible across the country.
It will then be rounded off with the annual conference in November. Which we are proud to say is still the best value conference in the public sector.
Details of all of these will be released very soon.
In the meantime, want to hear about all the great work you are doing, so if you have a campaign or piece of work you are proud of, share it with us firstname.lastname@example.org
Head of Communications and Engagement at Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue and Chair of FirePRO