4 Other observations
While visiting fire stations, issues around support and networking were raised by RDS staff and are worthy of note.
We established that training and management support is variable across the Service. In one LSO area staff at some RDS fire stations, predominantly on island locations, were not having regular contact or support from LSO area trainers or managers. Some RDS managers reported not seeing anybody from the mainland for several months and being left to manage their own training with limited access to LCMS and PDRPro due to poor connectivity. This was witnessed at a number of locations. These concerns have also been raised in other remote locations during previous inspections.
By comparison, on an island in a different LSO area we found evidence that there was relevant training and management support for RDS staff which was frequent and structured. The LSO training staff would also update the station training records onto PDRPro at a mainland central location, thus overcoming any IT accessibility issues and providing more time for RDS staff to undertake other training or work.
We also witnessed different standards of TfOC training being delivered across LSO areas with no evidence of quality control.
The SFRS should review the current arrangements across the Service for RDS training support and the quality of training being delivered, and share good practice.
During our fieldwork we were informed that a legacy FRS used to hold annual weekend seminars for RDS managers. The majority of the RDS managers we spoke to from the legacy FRS identified positive benefits for all who attended and would like to see them reintroduced within the SFRS.
The seminars provided an opportunity for RDS managers from different locations to get together and share their operational experiences and learning, receive practical training, and discuss policies and procedures that impacted on RDS staff. It was recognised as a platform to debate issues with management to help identify ways of improving RDS working and developing informal support networks. RDS managers were enthusiastic when talking about the previous seminars and found them beneficial to their role.
While we acknowledge the issues raised in this report about the demands on RDS staff to attend training events, we think that the SFRS should consider introducing optional RDS manager seminars across the Service to enhance the opportunities for networking, practical training and learning.
At some fire stations we visited, a number of individuals stated they were resigning from the Service in the near future. The individuals specified that this was wholly or in part due to the amount of time the Service expected them to spend on computers working through the LCMS packages and filling in training records. They also made reference to the limited practical training opportunities available to them because of the excessive amount of theory based training.
We believe that by engaging with RDS staff that are leaving or considering leaving, through exit interviews, the SFRS can better understand the impact of current training processes and procedures on individuals and learn from them accordingly.
The SFRS should utilise the exit interview process with RDS staff to better understand their reasons for leaving in order to implement improvements to the RDS duty system training environment.