Fire services in the region have undergone major changes and innovation since the turn of the century. This has been facilitated by new legislations and operational procedures in response to terrorist threats and attacks. The changes are all aimed at making the services more efficient and effective in offering its services. The service adopted an all-round approach in improving its quality in terms of service delivery and aligning itself to the growing environmental requirements and regulations.
This paper studies the human resource management in the fire and rescue service in the United Kingdom. It shall analyze the scope of functions of this department, and ways it ensures the well being of its employees as a motivational strategy to good performance.
Besides the human resource, the fire service has other resources. These are the financial and physical resources. These, too, need to be well managed and be kept in good condition to ensure that they perform their tasks well. We shall, therefore, look at the various principles guiding the management of financial and physical resources in the fire services.
An important process in the fire services is procurement of equipment and services. The service deals with all sorts of incidents, some which require modern and sophisticated technology to tackle. The quality and condition of these equipments is also an important aspect to ensure the safety of the crew handling them and that they are efficient to work with.
This is why the procurement process is an important process in the fire service. We shall, therefore, examine this process and factors that shape the process. Finally, we shall study the operational and assurance evaluation of the fire crew.
Human Resource Management
Human Resource Management is concerned with managing the human resource in an organization. The department is responsible for employees in terms of staff numbers, remuneration and compensation of employees, and defining employees’ tasks and responsibilities within the organization work framework. These responsibilities are all in an effort to increase and improve employees’ productivity by aligning their work with an organization’s mission and goals (Armstrong, 1999).
The practice of human resource appreciates certain principles that are important to the survival of a business organization. One is that employees are the most important resource of an organization. These are the ones who can see an organization succeed or fail. Taking good care of the human resource is tantamount to taking good care of the organization.
Human Resource Management in Fire and Rescue Services
The department is responsible for the very important task of employing, promoting, and dismissal of fire personnel. A number of fire firms in the UK use FireWatch in managing employment of staff. This system ensures competency in recruiting of staff, promoting good performing staff, and executing tax reductions effectively, fairly and objectively.
The system judges individual and team performance against pre-set indicators. This saves an organization’s money and time that would have been spent to make these evaluations. This technological gadget aides the recruitment process so that the best qualified fire personnel are selected for the job (Taylor, 2006).
Fire and rescue services need healthy and energetic employees to handle the daunting tasks the firemen face at their work place. To attain better services and provide a supportive environment for the firemen, the human resource department provides a round-the-clock monitoring of its employees to detect any irregularities. These include health, safety, and welfare needs of employees. This procedure has managed to track down cases of undue absence and abuse of employees. This way, fatalities are easily detected and immediate aid accorded (Green, 1999).
Because the firemen are exposed to health hazards as part of their job, the service provides comprehensive medical cover for all employees. Health physicians and nurses perform routine check ups and monitoring of long term health complications in employees.
Measures of managing these conditions are then recommended for employees, while those whose conditions are likely to be aggravated by the nature of the work are relieved of the duties. All treatment including physiotherapy, operations, and psychological attention are funded by the service companies. This is in line with labour laws in the UK to ensure employees’ safety at work places.
Employment procedures seek to cater for matters of equality in gender and age of the employees. It is true that men from ethnic majorities are over-represented compared to women from ethnic minorities. To address this issue, efforts are in place to increase the number of women recruited and overall representation of ethnic minorities.
There have also been reports of discrimination in allocation of tasks based on gender, race, and disability. The department outlawed all forms of discrimination on these bases or any other and fire members have been informed of channels of exposing this vice (Barry & Brandt, 1993).
Women tend to occupy the lower cadres while men dominate top positions. This is due to change as efforts are in progress to see more women progress to take up senior positions and improve their earnings (McGhee, 2011).
The department has been quite successful at outlining specific duties for all employees as per their qualifications. Cases of overlapping of tasks by employees have been reduced, thus minimizing conflict among employees. Duties that have to be carried out in turns are also clearly specified with the persons responsible at any one time. This has increased efficiency and increased the morale of employees are roles are shared equitably.
Another major task of the human resource department is to ensure free flow of communication among employees and between employees and management. The department has drawn up clear lines of authority so that employees know at any one time who they should consult and be answerable to.
This avoids haphazard communication whereby employees take orders from irrelevant personnel. This way, order is maintained within the service. To aid this effort, the department has set up feedback mechanisms through which employees can freely express their views on the operations and management of the service without fear of victimization. Customers are also encouraged to air their views and assessment of the company’s services giving credit and pointing out areas for improvement (Beardwell & Holden, 2007).
It is the role of the human resource department to ensure that its employees are well rewarded for their efforts, thus motivated enough to perform their duties well. The department measures every employee’s performance at specific intervals to point out positive aspects and those that are found wanting of an employee. Good performance is rewarded fairly, while poor performance is reprimanded, and at times such employees are dismissed.
The department offers necessary training and re-training in areas core to the mission of the organization. With the advancement of technology, new equipment keeps emerging in the fire industry and the employees need to be updated on such technology at all times. It is through such training that employees’ performance and development is evaluated.
Training includes programs of orientation, acclimatization, and familiarization with new equipment and procedures of operation. This training has been successful as the organization has registered increased profitability, efficiency at work, and a decrease in supervision of employees at work (Callerstig, Harrison & Lindholn, 2009).
Principles of Management of Financial and Physical Resources in the Fire Service
Resources in the fire and rescue service include human, information and technology, vehicles, and various fire equipments. Effective management of these resources is important so that the organization operates within its budget, to ensure that staff offer their services properly, and that services they offer are of good quality and efficient in offering them. Poor management of an organization’s resources is a guarantee to failure of the business (Flynn, 2007).
One of the key principles of financial management is that an organization should maintain accounting records in accordance to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). This ensures that correct figures are entered into accounting books, and expenditure is rightfully accounted for.
Anther principle is that the service should ensure that its financial activities are in line with the laws and regulations of the government and donors. Documentation procedures should exhibit high standards of compliance to these laws.
Managerial financial reports should be accurate and relevant to financial operations of a specific period. Access to these should be retained for relevant and authorized personnel only to avoid errors and misappropriation.
Budgetary controls should be applied effectively. These help to monitor variations in budget details and detect deviations from budget estimates, providing necessary explanation for such irregularities. Budget control will also be used to detect areas that need additional funding such as sophisticated fire equipment because the current ones are costly to maintain. Such a recommendation can be presented to the relevant authorities who will authorize the additional funding as necessary (Flynn, 2007).
Management of physical resources includes management of activities such as vehicle maintenance, replacement of appliances, equipment testing, maintenance of premises, and provision of technical equipment among others.
In managing these properties, the following principles must be born in mind. Policies regarding physical resources and handling procedures must the aligned with their contribution in achieving the service’s objectives and goals. This will enable employees and fire personnel to handle and manage resources effectively in order to achieve overall effectiveness and an organization.
Management should always be keen to ensure its employees’ safety while handling work equipment and appliances. It is, therefore, a core principle in resource management that physical resources are in good working condition and that employees handling them have sufficient knowledge and skills of handling them. Faulty equipments are likely to cause more harm and destruction, and should be avoided or repaired appropriately (Ulrich, 1998).
Procurement Processes in the Fire and Rescue Services
Terrorism and terrorist activities and threats changed the course of the fire services in the UK. The service needed an efficient procurement system unlike the one that existed before to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. Currently, the service spends up to 90 million pounds a year on fire equipment and services.
The service carries out its procurement through corporate contracts that are won by free and fair competition. The procurement process is divided into two: routine and major procurements. Routine procurements include procurement of such routine equipment as stationery, while major procurement being procurement of high value projects.
For routine procurement costing less than 10,000 pounds, no formal procurement process is used. For those costing up to 20,000, tenders are advertised and a suitable supplier is selected competitively.
Procurements of above 20,000 are classified as major procurements and require formal processes. For tenders costing up to 173,934 pounds, tenders are invited and selected through a formal and competitive bidding process. Tenders costing above this figure are procured according the European procurement laws.
Due to market monopolies and domination by a few companies, the procurement process aims at promoting and providing ground for fair competition for both big and small companies. The procurement process, therefore, gives small companies and the third sectors opportunities to vie for tenders with big companies (Flynn, 2007).
The procurement process aims to promote improvement and efficiency within the services through competitive procurement practices. The practice of procurement is done responsibly to ensure that the goods and services procured are environmentally friendly and that they are of social value to the community.
The service, in an effort to encourage environmental friendly practices, replaced all its vehicles with those that pollute the environment less, and fitted its stations with solar panels to save energy. As a reward for all these efforts, the service received the Gold Standard of the Mayor’s Green Procurement Code and other awards in the mayor’s code.
Operational Assurance and Evaluation
The fire and rescue service has undergone vigorous operational evaluation to ensure that their services are up to standard and in line with fire operational requirements. Self assessments within the organization have helped the organization focus on new and better ways to ensure efficient service delivery and areas for improvement.
Such evaluations are key in monitoring the organizations’ systems of working and assess performance of crew during possible incidents. This, in turn, is used to inform the effectiveness of operational procedures and operations (Flynn, 2007).
Every fire personnel, including firefighters, crew, and various managers are responsible for ensuring that their performance and that of others is good enough for the operations. Honest evaluations of colleagues and junior staff are encouraged among the personnel so that they can all ensure that they offer quality services to the community.
Tactical Advisors are mandated with the formal task of evaluating and assessing operational effectiveness of the fire personnel. A Tactical Advisor is available at incident scenes at the incident command system to observe and report on the activities of the firefighters regarding handling of equipment, compliance of the fighters with the standard operating procedures and legislations, and other aspects of performance. Besides assessing performance, the tactical advisor acts as a mentor and guide to the fire crew.
Such formal feedback by the tactical advisor and other informal feedback by colleagues is used as a tool for assessing the performance of the firemen. The reports are used to point at good performance and even reward it. Poor performance is reprimanded and punished where a fire crew is found to have acted with negligence (Kavanagh, 2011).
The Community Response Support Team collects feedback from the Incident Forms, Tactical Advisor Forms, and Incident Debrief Forms. These are then submitted to the Response Support Department who evaluate the findings in the reports. The outcome of the evaluation is then presented to the Response Policy Group.
This group studies the report to find areas that are best performed and, therefore need no more improvement, areas that need more practice and investment in equipment for sufficient practice, and future recommendations for better practice.
The fire and rescue services department is an important department in the United Kingdom and all other countries. The human resource department is endowed with the task of procuring employees, the most important resource in any organization. This, it does with utmost objectivity so that it can employ the best qualified persons for the job.
There are other resources besides the human resource. These include the financial and physical resources. These have to be managed well so that the service can utilize most of their benefits before they wear out. Financial management is important for the services, because most government services fall prey to poor financial management as they get their funds from the state.
The service procures other items and services besides the human resource. These are procured through a comprehensive procurement system involving formal procedures to avoid embezzlement and promote equity and fair competition for tenders.
Finally, fire services have to be assesses from time to time to evaluate performance of workers and effectiveness of organizations’ facilities. This provides organizations’ management with knowledge on areas for improvement and future redress.
The fire and rescue service of the United Kingdom is among the best fire service globally. This is as a result of efforts by the central government to equip the service with the best equipments and training for its employees.
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