The interest in enhancing fire-prevention propaganda is currently among the priorities in teaching the basics of safety. In that regard, the UK government devotes substantial efforts to the issues of fire safety propaganda, specifically among children of primary school age. Additionally, many efforts are devoted to raising the image of firefighters in the eyes of society. The results of a survey conducted by Readers Digest among 25,000 readers in 15 countries indicated that “95% of people described their trust in firefighters as ‘very high’ or ‘rather high’” (Readers Digest Magazine). According to such results, firefighters are trusted more than doctors, nannies, or teachers. Such a positive image can be seen as a contributing factor in increasing the positive perception of the society for any educational activities conducted by fire safety departments. High-risk groups might be seen as having the highest priority in such aspects, in which young children of primary school age are specifically emphasized. Increasing the awareness of such groups of fire safety issues is an important aspect of the fire and safety service. The concept of increasing safety should focus on such objectives as cultivating the norms of safety behavior toward the surrounding environment, developing responsible relations toward the safety of oneself and others, propagating the basics of fire safety and others.
In the light of the aforementioned, a project was suggested by the local government in Folkestone town which should improve fire safety awareness amongst young children. Thus, the present report provides a review of corresponding resource management and human resource management issues for such a project. The report explains the process of recruiting two new staff members for the project and the resource materials required, in addition to outlining the main principles of the evaluation of the project.
The requirement for human resources for the project in question was established as two full-time staff employees. The tasks required for the project can be seen through matching the aims of the program with those common to the position of a community safety officer and a community safety practitioner. Both positions are commonly referred to in the context of crime and disorder, although they are applicable to fire safety as well. In that regard, the tasks performed by a community safety manager can be seen through the following job description:
Increasing the awareness of primary school children in Folkestone of fire safety. Manage, support, and coordinate the work of the team of community safety officers, delivering information to children on fire safety.
Tasks and Responsibilities
The job description for a community safety officer mainly implies working under the guidance of the manager, in addition to other roles and responsibilities. Such responsibilities can be seen as follows:
Supporting the community safety manager, performing outlined tasks, and coordinating activities directed toward increasing children’s fire safety awareness.
Tasks and Responsibilities
The main requirements for both candidates should include degree qualifications, leadership and communication skills, and knowledge of theoretical, practical and legislative aspects of community safety.
In terms of recruitment, the options recommended by the Regional Centres of Excellence imply using a recruitment agency, a list of preferred suppliers, or a combination of the aforementioned. The last option, i.e. a combination of both approaches can be seen as a good choice for the current project. The list of preferred suppliers might include the National Community Safety Network (NCSN), a practitioner-led organization that supports those involved in the promotion of community safety in the UK (NCSN). Considering such factors as salaries, many factors should be considered including the principles of fair payment as well as the position of the agency among other agencies, the rate of inflation, training programs, and others (Michigan State University).
Diversity issues in employment can be managed through the guidelines established by the National Equality and Diversity Strategy, where information on maintaining such aspects are monitored and reported in a national equity and diversity report (Department for Communities and Local Government “Fire and Rescue Service National Framework 2008–11”). Considering that the number of staff to be employed is only two employees, the targets to be reached should stem from the existent proportions of the fire and rescue service in Folkestone. Thus, analyzing the current parity of minority staff across the whole organization, the targets for the staff to be employed can be assessed.
Focusing on community safety qualification, in which the focus on fire safety is one of many areas of focus, training might be considered for the new employees, in order to introduce them to the concept of fire and rescue services, if needed. However, it should be mentioned that candidates with expertise in fire safety issues will be preferred, according to the national procurement strategy that states “skills and apprenticeship requirements addressed in procurement are relevant to the subject matter, or performance, of the contract” (Department for Communities and Local Government “National Procurement Strategy for the Fire and Rescue Service in England 2009-12” 21)
The realization of the program can be performed through various directions which are outlined as follows:
- The creation of educational video clips is instructive in nature. Such elements can be seen among the main parts of the project, i.e. increasing the awareness of children of fire safety. The selection of the themes of the clips should be performed according to the guidelines of fire and rescue service departments if necessary adapted to common cases registered at Folkestone’s local department. The resources include the clip itself, the medium, and the equipment required for its rotation.
- Class materials in which the fire safety principles will be taught to children. The resources include instructional brochures, visual and textual devices, e.g. posters and stands, and multimedia devices. The initial plan might include preparing classes in three primary schools, which should be expanded later to include all primary schools in Folkestone.
- Organization of cultural events, directed at children of primary school age. The event can be organized during a special week dedicated to fire safety in the town. The event might include a mass presentation of the educational clips, contests and role-plays with children, for which awards will be given.
Thus the resources can be divided between printed materials, equipment, multimedia materials, training, salaries, and the costs of the clips. The procurement process for the aforementioned resources will be guided by the principle value for money, i.e. “the optimum combination of whole-life cost and quality (or fitness for purpose) to meet the user’s requirement” (Department for Communities and Local Government “National Procurement Strategy for the Fire and Rescue Service in England 2009-12” 33). The use of best practices will ensure efficiency, following the value for money principles. In that regard, the procurement approach will stem from the guidelines of the national procurement strategy for local government, the national procurement strategy for the fire and rescue service, including regional strategies, and regional centers of excellence (RCEs), and the best practices guidance of organizations such as the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS), the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), and Local Government Improvement and Development (formerly known as IDeA) (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 10).
A summary of the guidelines for the procurement approach to be used includes the following points:
- In the sector of information and communication technology and professional services, the Office of Government Commerce is consulted on collaborative approaches in procurement (Department for Communities and Local Government “National Procurement Strategy for the Fire and Rescue Service in England 2009-12” 13).
- Conducting process/competence analysis and spend analysis (CIPS 3).
The process of obtaining those supplies can be outlined through a shortened version of the CIPS Purchasing & Supply Management (P&SM) Model, which includes the following stages and steps:
- Identifying needs.
- Choosing procurement approach.
- Marketplace development.
- Bid documentation.
- Contact suppliers.
- Evaluate and select suppliers.
- Receive offers.
- Negotiate and create contracts.
- Manage the project.
- Manage the assets.
- Reception of service.
- Lesson management and evaluation (CIPS).
The general aim of the project is increasing the awareness of children of fire safety measures. In that regard, such aim can e categorized into several sub-points that explain the programs purpose and outcomes. Such outcomes include:
- Understanding the dangers of fire and its consequences.
- Understanding types of behaviours that might lead to fire.
- Understanding how to assess risk zones and identifying danger and dangerous materials.
- Understanding the sequence of actions that should be performed by children in case a fire occurs in the building in which they are located.
- Development of skills and knowledge in administering first aid and calling rescue services.
Those aims can be linked to a number of benefits, the most important of which can be seen in reducing the number of fatalities as a result of the fire. In a long-term perspective, the benefits of the program can be seen in fostering a sense of responsibility in children, which in turn might be reflected in the community, through creating a conscious and responsible relation toward issues of personal and community safety. Accordingly, increasing the awareness of children can be seen as one of the steps of popularizing the safety principles among the population.
The evaluation of the project can be performed by establishing SMART objectives for the project. SMART is an abbreviation that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, and Time-related (Elearn Limited (Great Britain) and Pergamon Flexible Learning. 22). Such objectives should be developed and assessed on the basis of whether they are SMART or not. In that regard, in the short-term perspective, the objective of the program can be evaluated through conducting a quantitative analysis measuring the knowledge of the children. A comparison between the pre-test and post results of the test can serve as an instrument of measurement. The connected SMART objective can be seen through having a moderate increase in the scores on the test that reflects the outcomes of the project. It can be stated that such scores are specific, focusing on a single and particular area, they can be measured, they can be achieved, being attached to specific results, and accordingly, they bounded within specific time frames, which will be a period agreed upon by schools administrations and the department of fire and safety. It is suggested for such a frame to be established for a period of 6 months, which is a sufficient period to assess the program. In the long term, the same criteria can be applied to another objective, which is the number of fire-caused deaths of children of primary school age.
There are a number of policies and regulations guiding the implementation of such a project, and its aims. The guidelines and the expectations outlined in the Fire and Rescue Service National Framework mostly guide the main aim of the program in terms of education and intervention. Such guidelines, rephrased in the context of the policy state that authorities should “[h]ave in place arrangements for heightening public awareness and vigilance in respect of safety issues during periods of the emergency cover” (Department for Communities and Local Government “Fire and Rescue Service National Framework 2008–11” 33). An example of such policy guidance can be seen through programs and campaigns, which purpose is similar to the one in the present report. Additionally, two other areas of expertise are guided through the national framework for fire and rescue service, which are:
- Providing statistical information, evaluation, data collection and sharing, the findings of which can be used as metrics for the evaluation of the program.
- Guiding the recruitment process, namely in terms of equity and diversity, are among the key priorities of the framework (Department for Communities and Local Government “Fire and Rescue Service National Framework 2008–11”).
National procurement strategy for FRS along with regional strategies can be seen as the guides directing the key concepts of good procurement. The legal framework, in that regard, consists of regulations such as public contracts, a set of policies governing the criteria of awarding public contracts (PUBLIC PROCUREMENT). Additionally, it should be noted that the education department has a major role in the programs, which can be seen through such collaborative efforts as participation in the distribution of clips, coordinating the work of community safety officers and the usual class schedule, participation in the events arranged by the program.
The Principles of Operational Assurance
Through an analogy with the operational assurance team in fire and rescue services, outlined by the national audit office, a similar team can be established in order to assess the available resources (The National Audit Office 19). Such checklist, not only will indicate the resources available for the program, but also its shortcomings and the areas of improvement. The latter can be utilised when modifying the program, or expanding its scope to include other regions. A modal table of assessment can be seen as follows:
|Equipment||Number of staff required||Number of staff available||Differences|
Such table is merely a demonstration of the way data of the project resource requirements can be assessed, where other criteria can be added.
The present report provided a review of the main issues that should be considered in the proposed project for increasing fire safety awareness of primary school children in Folkestone. The report provided a review of issues of recruitment, necessary resources, the main activities, the project’s aims, and the evaluation methods. Additionally, the present report provided an overview of the policies involved in shaping the framework of the project. It can be concluded that the reliance on the guidelines and the principles provided in issues such as procurement ensures that the best opportunities are taken, delivering services effectively and efficiently. Outlining the relationship between agencies that provide advice on the best opportunities for procurement is an important factor for driving efficiency forward and promoting best practices. Additionally, the report indicated the importance of the context of the project, which is increasing the awareness of children on fire safety issues. The aim of the project, in that matter, is among the preventive initiatives of the department fire and rescue service.
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- Readers Digest Magazine. “Firefighters -Most Trusted in Europe”. 2010. Essex County Fire & Rescue Service.
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