Hertfordshire: Fire Service plan to recruit remote-working council staff to ‘on-call’ roles

  Posted: 20.11.20 at 11:29 by Deborah Price

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Fire chiefs in Hertfordshire are drawing up plans to encourage county council staff to become ‘on-call’ firefighters – by offering them a desk in a fire station.

‘On-call’ firefighters – who balance firefighting with their regular job or other commitments – have to be able to respond quickly when paged for an emergency call.

And only those who live or work within four minutes of their station have been able to apply.

But now fire chiefs are looking at whether ‘on-call’ recruits could do their usual day jobs from fire stations, as part of a drive to boost recruitment.

And they are initially looking at plans to recruit from those county council employees who could work remotely.

As part of the plan, staff would be able to work from desks at on-call stations. And while getting on with their day job they’d still be immediately available if required by the fire service.

The ongoing work to develop the ’employer supported firefighter’ project was reported to a meeting of the county council’s community safety and waste management cabinet panel on this week.

And it was said to be a “positive, realistic solution that provides enough additional crew members to overcome shortfalls of personnel”.

Councillors were told that as well as addressing shortfalls in the day-time – when on-call crew numbers are said to be at their lowest – it would also provide additional income for county council employees.

And following an initial focus on county council employees, it was reported that it could be rolled out to other larger employers across Hertfordshire.

Presenting the ongoing work on the proposals, District Commander Rad Bristow told councillors: “Traditionally on-call firefighters have four minutes to get to a station and respond.

“With the new contracts it gives us the opportunity to recruit people from outside that four minute catchment area – if they can work flexibly at fire stations.

“So that links in to ’employer supported firefighting’ which is where we ask big employers to support on-call firefighters during their training and to release them during the working day.

“This is really important for us, because obviously as a fire and rescue service we are part of the wider HCC.

“So we have got 8000 employees in HCC – and I just think it was important that we try to tap in to that .”

Meanwhile it was also reported that as part of the service’s wider ‘on-call transformation project’ flexible mobilising has been used since September 2018.

This system alerts ‘on-call’ firefighters – even if their usual engine be unavailable due to crew shortages locally.

And the report states: “By amalgamating available personnel from different stations that are individually unavailable a fully staffed fire engine can be
created.

“Since Flexible Mobilising was introduced into the Service in September 2018 it has been used on more than 40 occasions.”

Members of the community safety and waste management cabinet panel were updated on the ongoing work on the ‘on-call transformation project’ at the meeting.

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