The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and the Fire Service College (FSC) have come together to form a new R&D partnership. A joint Memorandum of Understanding clearly demonstrates each organisation’s commitment towards collaboration around the future evaluation of the Fire and Rescue Service’s operational equipment.
The partnership will see joint research and evaluation, in turn making it easier for Fire and Rescue Services to share information and choose the most effective equipment.
Many of the UK’s Fire and Rescue Services currently need to undertake separate evaluation of their operational equipment. This results in the replication of costs for the public sector, manufacturers and suppliers alike.
The recently-created Research, Development, Technology and Innovation (RDTI) Hub situated at the Fire Service College at Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire will provide the venue for this unified activity going forward.
The RDTI Hub is part of the wider Fire and Rescue Service R&D function which is led by CFOA and supported by Fire and Rescue Services across the UK. This national collaborative approach will enable Fire and Rescue Services to access evaluations and information about operational equipment they may wish to use, share knowledge and learning more effectively, conduct academic research and reduce replication across the sector. This will result in financial savings and increased co-ordination across the Fire and Rescue Services.
Network of contacts
Building and maintaining collaborative relationships across the wider Emergency Services sector is a critical success factor in this initiative. CFOA has a network of contacts in the academic research field, as well as the National Operational Guidance Programme and the recently established Procurement Hub, all of which will be key relationships when it comes to UK Fire and Rescue Service R&D.
This new collaboration will also help manufacturers and suppliers to engage with Fire and Rescue Services at a much earlier stage, meaning that fire safety sector professionals will have more input into how products are designed. That will help to reduce development times, minimise costs and duly result in equipment being produced and put into use more quickly.
Mike Penning, the Minister for Policing, Fire, Criminal Justice and Victims at the Home Office, stated: “I’m delighted to see this R&D partnership come together. Initiatives such as this demonstrate the kind of collaborative working the Government wants to see embedded across the Fire and Rescue Service, sharing expertise and knowledge and supporting services so that they can be more efficient and effective. I hope this initiative is embraced by all Fire and Rescue Services, and I look forward to seeing the results of their work.”
Geoff Howsego, CFOA’s director for corporate services and sector improvement, said: “The UK R&D function will help us to understand how we make a difference and improve how we currently evaluate, research and test equipment, while also identifying new ways of working. It will incorporate all areas of R&D, including academic research, product development and testing and implementation along with procurement and evaluation of impacts.”
More effective and efficient R&D
The FIA’s CEO Ian Moore told Risk UK: “Having supported and been involved in the development of this initiative, we’re delighted that the CFOA, the FIA and the FSC triumvirate is to deliver more effective and efficient R&D and related processes across our Fire and Rescue Services. We’re fully confident that this collaborative approach will be of immense benefit both to the Fire and Rescue Services themselves as well as suppliers to the sector and result in further improvements in responses to fire and other emergency incidents.”
Martin Thomas, managing director of the FSC, explained: “The announcement of better joint working coincides with the Home Secretary’s speech about fire reform wherein Theresa May outlined her agenda for bringing ‘radical transformation to the service’, including prioritising accountability and greater transparency.”