RDS firefighters have a limited window of time available for training and the Service should ensure that this time is used to maximum effect.
The SFRS has worked hard over the past six and a half years to standardise systems and practices relating to the attainment and maintenance of competence for RDS staff. A priority for the Service, amongst many others, has been to provide standard training programmes that could be delivered across all of its fire stations to ensure there is consistency in approach.
While a degree of consistency has been created in SFRS training programmes, these programmes are to an extent unsympathetic to RDS staff due to their competing day to day commitments. During our inspection it was evident that initial and maintenance phase training programmes require a complete review. We welcome the recent publication of the Service's own operational training review and look forward to seeing progress and implementation of the Service's 'Training Change Programme'.
Earlier in the report we identified specialist skills that require a further commitment to training. The Service should be satisfied that individuals are able to maintain any additional skills alongside their core skills. The introduction of new technologies and equipment, that offer a range of options for tackling fires in buildings and the possible broadening of the role of RDS staff to include, for example, Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest and/or Out of Hospital Emergency Response, will have a major impact on the time required for RDS staff to maintain their operational competence.
Our recommendations identify specific areas for improvement within the RDS initial, maintenance, specialist and IC training areas. The SFRS should consider challenging and changing existing policies and procedures, implementing different ways of working and engage more with RDS staff to better understand their needs so they can competently fulfil the role of RDS firefighters and incident commanders.