The importance of learning
Fire and rescue service operations can be hazardous. If hazards are managed and controlled, the risks to personnel, public and the environment can be minimised. It is not possible to eliminate all risk, but it must be reduced to as low a level as is reasonably practicable. How ‘practicable’ is defined is subjective and should be based on a risk–benefit analysis for each situation.
To help reduce risk, knowledge learned from incidents should be shared with all fire and rescue services and the wider sector, where appropriate. A continual and shared learning process will help fire and rescue services to resolve incidents, cope with future changes in the operational environment, develop, innovate and improve the safety of all personnel and, therefore, provide the best service to the public.
The National Operational Guidance for Corporate guidance for operational activity highlights the issues that chief fire officers or chief executives should consider when planning their health and safety duties and responsibilities.
An active learning culture will generate the raw material for learning from incidents. Taking action that leads to effective change encourages additional reporting. However, if action is not taken and change is ineffective, and in the worst case individuals are blamed, reporting is likely to decline and formal learning from incidents will be challenging.
The National Fire Chiefs Council Leadership Framework supports the development of learning cultures within fire and rescue services and sets out the behaviours expected from leaders in such environments.
The delivery of National Operational Learning activity is supported the standard. Governance and corporate ownership
Learning should be an integral component of management structures and processes. For an organisation to become a learning organisation, senior leadership teams should encourage and participate in learning, seek to understand the process in which true learning is achieved and actively promote it.
Chief fire officers should nominate an Operational Learning Strategic Lead.