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Drivers for change

IO11: Organisational learning

Facing the Future contains a section on driving efficiency. Sir Ken Knight focuses on learning as one of his key findings. “Greater sector leadership is needed to drive through a culture of learning from good practice and challenging services to rise to the level of the best.”

After major incidents like Grenfell or going further back to the Kings Cross fire in 1987, there are always lessons to be learned. Sir Desmond Fennell recommended in his report published in 1988 that there ought to be joint exercises between the emergency services, “Because I am satisfied that if such joint exercises had taken place, communications would have been better and some of the problems which presented themselves would not have proved as difficult as they did on the night”.

The need for learning from incidents also comes also from coroners’ reports. In particular, the tragic death of Firefighter Stephen Hunt and the important report written by the Coroner, Nigel Meadows in 2016. “It is suggested that consideration is given to being able to mobilise a national and consistent approach to sharing the learning and testing so that it can be shown to be received, understood, actioned and embedded”.

Partly in response to Nigel Meadows report, the NFCC set up a project to create a National Operational Learning system in order to have a national and consistent way of capturing learning not only from major incidents but from day to day activity. By categorising learning based on the controls and hazards contained in National Operational Guidance, the analysis can provide decision makers with evidence of whether change needs to be made to policy, guidance, training or other areas. 

Learning is also derived from non-operational aspects of fire and rescue service business and as such the NFCC is looking at how to widen out the principles contained in the National Operational Learning approach to see if it can be extended to Organisational Learning.

HMICFRS State of Fire report 2019 made reference to the variance of capacity at local level to deliver change in working arrangements.  The National Employers (England), through the LGA, and the NFCC have identified a need to provide further support. Such a mechanism will require additional funding.