Training and maintenance of competence
Delivery of a risk-based maintenance of competency schedule allows a service to focus on what a successful implementation project looks like. It is a way of evidencing measurable benefits that were stated in the ‘clear vision’ section of the project. It enables a service to review, realise and identify actual gains such as decreased instances of operational discretion and improved firefighter behaviour.
The stated goal is to train operational and fire control personnel to a level of competence that enables them to carry out operational activities safely and effectively; this includes the ability to recognise hazards and put effective control measures in place to mitigate those hazards.
There are many challenges to be considered to align, implement and embed National Operational Guidance (NOG) compliant training packages. Ranging from the number of retained duty system (RDS) personnel, differences in experience, existing training material and its quality or relevance. Consideration should be given to different learning styles such as visual, aural, kinaesthetic, independent or group learning and practical learning styles.
There are high volume of hazards and control measures and therefore practical applications and knowledge and understanding across the suite of guidance. It is possible to reduce this down into manageable packages and services have demonstrated how this can be done. For example, ‘Gaining access’ appears in multiple areas across the guidance framework (Fires in buildings, Utilities and fuel, Operations, Industry). This can all be condensed into one ‘Gaining access’ package and integrated into a maintenance of competency schedule. Another method is to break training packages down to align with incident types or scenarios.
A phased approach to introducing the training packages could be considered.
A NOG-aligned approach ensures standardisation in training across the service and reduces the potential for informal or unapproved training; it is a consistent way of introducing and delivering training. Essential to this process is the need to promote understanding of NOG and how subject matter expertise applies to NOG in training departments.
There is an opportunity for firefighters to gain an Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE) qualification as the operations syllabus aligns to the NOG framework; some services have built this into their development of firefighters as an added benefit.
An assurance loop can be built into a maintenance of competency framework enabling services to evidence understanding of the material delivered, as well as decide on the frequency of delivery based on factors such as complexity, perceived risk and frequency of encounter for example.
NOG is linked to training specifications, so services can state with confidence that what they say in policy is what they teach in service, and competency trackers are linked to SGA, so when policy changes services know where training is updated, saving time and creating an auditable trail.
A service should be confident that personnel are receiving training and assessment based on the most current guidance, which has been consulted on nationally.
Collaboration and learning materials team
Several NOG aligned training packages (blended learning) are being produced across the sector, collaboration to stop duplication and ease workloads is advised. With that in mind the sector requests that new training packages are not heavily branded or badged.
The learning materials team are building NOG aligned training packages and have published the digital learning module: Evacuation Alert Systems. The Learning Materials Team are now busy working on some more high profile and risk critical interactive eLearning packages.
The team combine creative e-learning design skills and teaching expertise with the subject matter expertise of operational fire personnel to produce interactive and engaging learning material using top of the range software and state of the art hardware.