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by the NFCC

Principles of learning from incidents

Ensuring that lessons are learned from previous incidents, so that occurrences can be prevented in the future, is central to the health, safety and welfare of people working for the UK fire and rescue service.

The service can continue to improve its operational performance and improve safety if learning from incidents is continual, and the lessons are shared effectively and widely. This is particularly important in an environment where a decline in the number of operational incidents could lead to a decline in operational experience.

Learning from incidents goes beyond simply identifying what went well or what might have gone wrong. While this information is useful in determining how things should be done, learning has truly been achieved only when some form of change is implemented that ensures actions will be different in the future.

Learning should also consider the organisational vulnerabilities that are identified during monitoring, audit and review processes. Effective learning from incidents also gives the opportunity to reflect on and understand the information, and take action to reduce risk. It involves the organisation embedding changes so that, even if there are staffing changes, measures to prevent reoccurrence stay in place.

Fire and rescue services can use this good practice guide as a benchmark against which to measure their existing systems and arrangements.

More information on operational learning is available in the Corporate guidance for operational activity