Literature on leadership

When leadership is discussed in the media it is most frequently focused on particular individuals and much of the leadership literature more generally has focused on individual heroes (1). However, in recent years a literature has emerged that focuses more on distributed or dispersed leadership. This perspective suggests a need for a new kind of public sector leader to respond to the changing context, in which leadership beyond boundaries and beyond spans of authority will become more important (2). There is recognition that the most pressing issues for society are complex and span the remits of many different agencies – now universally referred to as ‘wicked’ issues. These wicked issues can’t be solved by one public sector agency alone and require collaboration between public sector organisations, the private sector, voluntary organisations, communities and individuals. This has raised the question for leadership theorists and practitioners about whether the traditional concept of a leader is still fit for purpose or whether there is a need for a new way to think about the role of a leader and the skills that will be needed.

There are several terms to describe this new type of leadership, including collaborative, collective, contested, distributed and dispersed leadership. Two frameworks in particular have found resonance with local government and helped to frame thinking about different leadership approaches. First, Heifitz’s adaptive leadership model, which he defines as ‘mobilising people to tackle tough problems’ (3, p.15) and, second, Mark Moore’s concept of public value (4), which enables a leader to look beyond immediate pressures to focus on what the public most value and what will add value to the public sphere. Both these approaches call for new sets of leadership skills.

 

More recently there has been a call for a new breed of leaders from Wilson’s ‘Anti hero project’ (5) which builds on Heifetz’s model (3) where effective leaders avoid being the hero who has to find a solution for every problem. The Anti hero report suggests that the workforce recognise the need for new leadership approaches. In response to a survey, respondents identified the top five leadership characteristics that are currently overvalued as control, charisma, power, financial skills and expertise – all very traditional concepts of leadership – whereas the five key undervalued skills were collaboration, humility, listening, empathy and integrity. It is clear that for leaders to be able to operate in a diverse, collaborative environment, these ‘undervalued’ skills will be the ones that will produce results. Similarly, recent work by the Public Sector People Managers’ Association (PPMA), concludes that:

From our interviews [with chief executives and HR directors in a range of local service organisations] it is clear that there is widespread belief that public services can only be more responsive to the needs of service users if employees on the front line are trusted to innovate and empowered to act with more autonomy. This requires a fundamental culture change away from traditional command and control models of leadership to one in which leadership is distributed across organisations (6, p.4).

In order to achieve this, leaders clearly need to be confident (and humble) enough to ‘let go’ and enable this distribution of power to front line workers.

SOLACE, who represent local authority chief executives, have been developing a framework for the skills that future council chief executives will need. They have described these as ‘contextual’ skills:

  • Leading place and space: acting as the advocate, hub, facilitator and supporter of all aspects of the development of their community. This means more than just managing and contributing to partnership working – it requires creating local identity, community cohesion, balancing priorities and creating ‘whole system’ approaches.
  • Leading during complexity and ambiguity: working without a blueprint, going beyond the management of change and towards new levels of innovation.
  • Leading entrepreneurial organisations: entrepreneurial skills to invent new delivery methods, seek investment opportunities, create and operate organisations that empower staff and have a ‘can do’ culture.
  • Leading through trust: creating a motivational environment where others will have enough trust to follow them, even when the way ahead is not clear (7).

There is a clear picture emerging of the type of leader and the skills set that is needed now, and in future, to tackle society’s wicked issues. What is not yet clear is whether existing development and recruitment processes will enable these types of leaders to emerge.

  • Peck E, Dickinson H. Performing leadership. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan; 2009 2009.
  • Peck E, Dickinson H. Managing and leading in inter-agency settings. Bristol: Policy Press; 2008 2008.
  • Heifetz R. Leadership Without Easy Answers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.1994.
  • Moore MH. Creating public value: strategic management in government. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; 1995 1995.
  • Wilson R, Kalman Mezey M, Neilson N. Anti hero – the hidden revolution in leadership and change. OSCA Agency Ltd: 2013.
  • Heifetz R. Leadership Without Easy Answers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.1994.
  • PPMA and CIPD. Leading culture change: employee engagement and public service transformation London: CIPD: 2012.
  • SOLACE Skills for Local Government and Local Government Association. Asking the right questions. SOLACE: London: 2013.

Beyond the narrative of doom?

A short reflection on new figures revealed by LGC today which reinforce the prevailing narrative of doom for those working in local councils. The LGC survey reports that a fifth of senior managers believe their council’s workforce will shrink by more than 35% by 2020. To achieve savings, the research suggests that 51% of councils intend to outsource more of their services in future, and 58% are moving towards becoming a commissioning council.

The figures suggest that, as we found from our own research, perma-austerity is driving councils to work in different ways with 8 in 10 saying they would deliver services in future through closer partnerships with other authorities, and two thirds saying they would work more closely with NHS bodies.

While it is encouraging to learn that councils are planning to work in different ways; moving beyond the salami slicing approach of the early years of austerity, the biggest challenge will be how to help those working in the public sector to thrive and flourish in this environment. In the midst of so much change, (and loss), how can we best support the workforce to be resilient, and to develop the new skills and new roles that they will need to be effective in this environment?

Our research has identified some of the different skills and roles that might be needed, but those working in the public sector have told us that there needs to be a new narrative for the workforce – a new vision that moves beyond the narrative of doom and loss, with clarify around expectations, opportunities and support for development. Those tasked with commissioning or delivering public services in whatever form will need space and time for reflection, with peer to peer support and action learning to help them achieve better outcomes for residents in very different ways from the the past.

Free up staff to make ‘heart decisions’

Emma Browes

Emma Browes

The other day I woke up in a good mood. Eating my breakfast, my main concern was to try not to get jam on my ipad. Then the radio reported that Sir Bob Kerslake had given a speech and in this speech he said “Suffice it to say that under any Government, we face up to a further five years of austerity in public sector spending. The first five years have been challenging but the second five years are likely to prove even harder.” Not a surprise, but it took some of the sparkle out of the morning.

It is in this context that the 21st century public servant is being asked for more and more. We are asked not only to develop new skills, but also new mindsets and behaviours so that we can navigate new ways of working, increasingly reducing resources, changing consumer expectations and the implications and opportunities provided by social technology. All in the context of less and, often, with the burden that comes with the mechanics of a huge and bureaucratic organisation.   All the while headlines about redundancies and services closures are flying around.

So then, how do we help people to develop the skills and mindsets required of the 21st Century public servant in this context, foster innovation and challenge the prevailing culture?

The challenge is, I think, to reflect honestly on the trust within organisations.   One on one there will be thousands of examples of trusting relationships within organisations (ok and some not so much).

The key questions are – are these because of or in spite of the structures and processes that govern your world? Are they because of or in spite of the management culture that is prevalent in your organisation?

We have bureaucracy for a reason. If we takes risks and something goes wrong there are consequences – and there should be. We are public servants, we are spending the public’s money. People depend on our services for their care and wellbeing. However, we can no longer afford unnecessary bureaucracy – not just financially, but also in terms of providing easily accessible, transparent services that people are increasingly expecting and enabling staff to deliver these.

I heard an interesting story recently. A senior manager of a very large organisation was talking about how he had given permission for his team to make ‘heart decisions’. Processes were stripped right back and the only justification staff have to give for the decisions they make is that they think it is the right thing to do. These decisions were about money.

What happened? The money got to the people who needed it most at the right time. Why? Because the system assumed that staff would make the right decisions because they were in the best place to do so and understood clearly the values and behaviours that they are expected to work by.  In this case the risk of not spending the money outweighed the risk of unnecessary bureaucracy preventing help getting to people who really, really, need it.

The 21st century public servant needs to have the skills, capability and confidence to take risks to innovate and be creative so that they can deliver the best possible services.

To enable people to do this organisations need to be clear on the values and behaviours expected. This needs to run through all our management and communications processes – we value not just what you do, but how you do it.   Equally importantly, we need to hold people to account should they behave recklessly or not in line with our values and behaviors. But, we do increasingly need to take the plunge – let go and trust.

Emma Browes blogs as HR Em, writing about Social Media and HR.  She has over 15 years experience of working in large public sector organisations and writes about all of those too!  She currently works for Leeds City Council and will be forever grateful that she is not only permitted, but encouraged, to explore all things social to develop more collaborative ways of working –   discouraging email, encouraging use of the word awesome. www.emmabrowes.wordpress.com, @emmabrowes   

First Steps to Thinking Relationally

Kate Bagley

Kate Bagley

At Participle, we strongly believe that a 21st century welfare system must work relationally. (In fact we believe it so strongly, that’s what we’ve named our blog.) So what does that look like? We’ve got a vision of a future where our public services are dedicated to boosting citizen’s capabilities to lead thriving lives, every frontline worker has the time and ability to form relationships with the people they assist, and local networks of support are helping everyone find great jobs, stay healthy, and stay connected.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We know that it’s not easy to make these types of changes in a system that resists them. But we also know that the role of the public servant is rapidly changing. We’ve always been happy to admit that you don’t need every single public service to function relationally – you don’t need a meaningful relationship with the people emptying out your bins in order for the waste disposal system to work properly. But lately I’m beginning to wonder. In our current environment, even the fire service are expected to reach out and work with the communities around them to a surprising degree. It’s evident that those of us in public service need to understand the thinking behind working relationally, and it’s also evident that we aren’t going to be able to change our systems overnight. So where do we begin? If you’re a public servant, here are some easy places to start:

  •  Map out your day. When we spent time with social workers who assisted troubled families, we found that they spent 80% of their working time filling out paperwork and dealing with forms, and 20% of their working time interacting with the people they were meant to help. Of course, a good portion of that 20% was spent seeking data to input into the forms. Still, when we asked them beforehand how their day was spent, they reported that most of their time was spent with the families. You might not realise how much time you’re spending with people until you sit down and purposely map it out. Realising how much or how little you actually have to work with is the first step to thinking about what a different way might look like. If you’re in management, think about the structures and tools you’re giving to the people who do frontline work, and if those are helping or hindering them in forming relationships with service users.
  • Learn about active listening. This might seem a little unusual, but if you’re in a role where you need to understand people’s lives and what motivates them to change, a little bit of listening will go a long way. Most of us are not in the habit of truly listening to what people are saying, or helping others reflect on their thoughts. These are skills which are easily sharpened with a bit of practice, and will help you do your job much better. We’ve found that even just simply giving people the space to get things off their chest while you listen makes them much more receptive to what you’ll have to say in turn.
  • Stay in touch with how people are helping each other in the communities where you work. This is a dual-purpose suggestion. Understanding how people are connecting to support one another will make it easier for you to point your clients in the right direction. Go beyond what large charities are offering, and pay attention to what small community groups are up to and which local businesses are the informal gathering places where people go to chat. Getting plugged in to these networks will help you understand your clients better, and might even act as inspiration as to how your service could function more efficiently in that context.

In the face of diminishing resources and time, even the above can look easier said than done. But give it a try. It could help you see your work in a new light, and it’s quite likely to make your job easier in the long run.

Kate Bagley is Campaigns and Content Manager at Participle

Can we train people to be relational? Yes, but that’s not the point.

Miia Chambers

Every now and again, the debate of whether it’s possible to train frontline workers (most recently nurses) to act with more compassion in the line of duty pops up again. We understand that building relationships with the people they serve is an important part of their job, but we can’t understand why there seem to be such obvious and consistent failures to connect. Is the ability to work relationally something you either have or you don’t? Or is it something you can foster in people? It’s a big question.

From my experience, everyone who’s willing can be taught to build better connections with the people they serve. I know this because I do it every day. As a coach, I specialise in helping people communicate and connect with others. I’ve seen that when people learn how to be better listeners, empathy follows.

But we can’t expect the individuals to carry the whole burden. If we want our health services, or any other public service, to act with compassion, support is needed from all sides. Sometimes workers can lead the way. But if we want results beyond a few isolated incidents, the skill of building relationships has to be valued, rewarded and encouraged at every level, especially at the very top.

Training is important, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. To create a more compassionate service, you need:

-Messaging: It might sound silly, but management needs to be clear that people have “permission” to work relationally. This should be reflected in both words and actions. When a supervisor sees a nurse trying to work around rules and structures to fit a patient’s needs, is the supervisor’s first reaction to ask why they’ve done it, or to chastise?
-Process: Too much paperwork, huge caseloads and strict time limits mean that even if doctors and nurses wanted to take time to make human connection with a patient, they don’t realistically have that option. The #hellomynameis campaign is a step in the right direction, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
-Culture: Are people recognised and rewarded for working relationally? Is there an emphasis on risk prevention and professionalism to the detriment of getting people the help and support they need?

We’ve been speaking about doctors and nurses here, but the same goes for pretty much all of our public services that work intensively with people. Whether they are staff or service users, it’s about putting people first, valuing their contributions, and helping them build their skills and capabilities. If you want to build a community feeling, you can’t do it alone. To expect frontline staff to do so might hint at a failure of compassion and understanding on our part. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Miia Chambers has over two decades of coaching experience. She supports Backr, training volunteers to help others find their way in the world of work and ensuring the Backr service stays true to its relational mission. You can find her on Twitter at @miiachambers.

This blog originally appeard on the Relational Welfare blog hosted by Participle, who kindly allowed us to crosspost it.  

‘It’s about being human, that’s what we need to do,’

A key theme of our research is about how public servants interact with citizens (see here for the full list of themes). Here we look at the importance of 21st Century Public Servants engaging with citizens in  way that expresses their shared humanity and pooled expertise.

citizens

The literature review summary for the project highlighted the growth of a citizenry which is more assertive, and in which the notion of deference to professional judgment feels increasingly out of date. This partly reflects greater affluence and education levels. It is also about demographic changes such as the increased incidence of long-term health conditions about which citizens have time to develop a level of expertise. New technologies are changing expectations about how and when citizens engage with the state, as well as fostering the emergence of ‘scientific citizenship’ which challenges existing notions of professional expertise.[i]

The workforce challenges of engaging with a more assertive and technologically-savvy citizenry are not necessarily well understood. For some interviewees the notion of customer service was evoked to convey an approach which offered timely and effective contact with citizens. The limits of the customer metaphor were noted however, given that demand management was seen as a crucial element of future public service working, with no obvious private sector analogue.[ii] Many of the interviewees saw consumerism as a potential blind alley, which threatened to artificially raise citizen expectations but also to dampen the political aspects of the role of citizen – ‘let’s not call them customers, I hate that word’, as one said.

The notion of working co-productively, or in partnership, with citizens was the preferred approach of most interviewees: ‘Valued outcomes in public services are not things that can be delivered, they are always co-produced’, as one put it. The skills needed for this may not be in place however. A third sector chief executive commented on poor practice in engagement with citizens by the local authority: ‘…managers were meant to be working with community groups but didn’t know how to just be human, not part of the system. They don’t know how to just participate as a person without the weight of the organisation on them.’ For a number of people interviewed there was concern that the public were absent from the conversations about how to do co-production well. As one put it:

The public are a partner in the conversation that’s just not there, they keep being talked about. If you are interested in co-production, in solutions coming from communities and individuals, then you are going to have to start talking to them about how you see things, how might that work for them. Otherwise it’s not going to happen.

As well as making the citizen visible, there is a need to recognise and harness their expertise, as initiatives such as the Expert Patient Programme and People Powered Health have done.[iii] One interviewee working in local government observed the big cultural challenge that this posed: ‘We need to be enablers not managers, enabling people to do it for themselves. We won’t be in charge. That’s a big culture change, it’s difficult for people to get their heads around. It requires us to be more honest and trusting.’

Facilitating this cultural change is of course a key challenge for local authorities. One of the suggested approaches was alluringly simple: ‘It’s about being human, that’s what we need to do,’ as one interviewee put it. This notion of being human in dealings with citizens is a recurrent theme of what interviewees see as essential to a 21st Century Public Servant. As one said:

People need to be able to relate humanly to each other in the way they deliver services but in the way they assess people for services too. You can satisfy the requirements of the system but you won’t have solved the problem that’s dragging someone down in their life. That’s why public services work again and again with the same people as their problems get deeper and deeper.

The tendency to engage with citizens only partially or temporarily dealing with issues was reflected by several interviewees: ‘Individuals need the power to resolve a resident’s problem – e.g. currently if the police make a visit to a home they can’t resolve issues – they can only send people to the homeless shelter.’ One interviewee used the metaphor of citizens being treated as items on a conveyor belt: ‘Officers have responsibility not authority – like Yo Sushi, lots of trays going round but no-one wants to pick them up. We need a mechanism to identify those things they want to change and come together to work on them.’ More holistic ways of working were seen as delivering high levels of job satisfaction for workers: ‘People want to go the extra mile because there’s a satisfaction in good work well done and in solving someone’s problems. There’s an end point.’ The work intensification and episodic nature of citizen interaction in call centres, in contrast, was felt likely to increase staff burnout: ‘Answering phones in a call centre has no end point.’

There is a symmetry to the way that people spoke about the changing relationship between staff and citizens. If workers can crack this more human way of engaging with people it will enable citizens to be treated more holistically – as a whole person rather than a set of conditions or needs. One clear finding from the research was that the widespread calls for whole person approaches to care and support necessitate working practices in which staff are also able to be ‘whole people’.[iv]

For some respondents this common humanity will emerge if unnecessary regulations are stripped away. One interviewee gave this example: ‘Statutory workers with looked after children are not allowed to hug them. What crazy system have we got when those most in need of affection are denied it by the corporate parent on the grounds of somehow protecting them, that’s crazy?’ For another, ‘Authenticity…is critical. We need to learn its ok to say I made a mistake: this isn’t car insurance – you have to start off saying you’re sorry.’

Good interaction with the public is partly about giving people permission to ‘be themselves’, as these quotes suggest, but it will also require effective planning and support. The skill set identified in the co-production literature suggests that it is a combination of more informal roles (‘part good neighbour’) with more formally trained roles (‘part facilitator, part advocate, part support worker’).[v] The expertise for more effective relationships with citizens may well not exist within the corporate centre of the organisation but on the periphery. One interviewee suggested that the community engagement work that ‘used to be tucked out in neighbourhood offices’ now ‘has to be part of the corporate function of the local government.’ According to another, ‘The council doesn’t know how to combine knowledge and information e.g. from ward councillors. They need to develop internal co-production.’

More attention also needs to be given to the emotional labour of public service workers, particularly in a context in which they are engaging in more naturalistic ways with citizens. As one interviewee put it, ‘You need to be prepared to get out there and mingle with the real world and other people. And that’s emotionally draining. So when I go home in the evening (I’m actually an introvert) I’m really drained.’ Emotional labour is defined as, ‘the expression of one’s capacity to manage personal emotions, sense others’ emotions, and to respond appropriately, based on one’s job’.[vi] In its response to the Francis Report into events at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, the government explicitly evoked the concept of ‘The Emotional Labour of Care’, writing: ‘Working in health and care is inherently emotionally demanding. To support staff to act consistently with openness and compassion, teams need to be given time and space to reflect on the challenging emotional impact of health and care work’.[vii]

This increased awareness of the need for resilient responses to emotional labour constitutes a new dimension of public service practice. However there are challenges here for traditional notions of professionalism and distance. More humane services in which ‘authentic’ connections are made between people using and providing services, challenge the assumption that professionals should preserve distance and restraint. Yet professional boundaries may be an important part of self-care, and it is important to consider what support staff themselves need in order to sustain good relationships with citizens.[viii] The need for reflective practice in response to this emotion work and boundary spanning is dealt with in chapter ten below.[ix]

[i] Elam, Mark, and Margareta Bertilsson. 2003. “Consuming, Engaging and Confronting Science The Emerging Dimensions of Scientific Citizenship.” European Journal of Social Theory 6 (2): 233–251.

[ii] On this see RSA (2014) Managing Demand: Building Future Public Services, London: RSA/LGA/ESRC/iMPOWER/Collaborate; Mangan, C. and Goodwin, D. (2013)

‘Beyond Nudge: how can behaviour change help us do more with less?’, Birmingham: Institute of Local Government Studies

[iii] Expert Patient Programme http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/doctors/Pages/expert-patients-programme.aspx and People Powered Health http://www.nesta.org.uk/project/people-powered-health

[iv] Bickerstaffe S. (2013) Towards Whole Person Care, London: IPPR.http://www.ippr.org/publication/55/11518/towards-whole-person-care;

Oldham Report (2014) One Person, One Team, One System, London: Labour Party, http://www.yourbritain.org.uk/uploads/editor/files/One_Person_One_Team_One_System.pdf

[v] Poll C. Co-Production in Supported Housing: KeyRing Living Support Networks and Neighbourhood Networks Research Highlights in Social Work: Co-production and Personalisation in Social Care, Changing Relationships in the Provision of Social Care 2007;49:49-66.

[vi] Mastracci SH, Newman MA, Guy ME. Emotional labor: Why and how to teach it. Journal of Public Affairs Education. 2010:123-41.

[vii]. Department of Health. Patients First and Foremost, The Initial Government Response to the Report of The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry,. London: The Stationery Office: 2013.

[viii] Glendinning C, Halliwell S, Jacobs S, Rummery K, Tyer J. New Kinds of Care, New Kinds of Relationships: How Purchasing Affects Relationships in Giving and Receiving Personal Assistance. Health and Social Care in the Community. 2000;8(3):201-11.

[ix]  Newman, J. (2012). Working the spaces of power: activism, neoliberalism and gendered labour. A&C Black.

What skills does a 21st Century fire service need?

Dave Cross, Watch Commander, West Midlands Fire Service

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Over the past twenty years the fire service, like many other public sector agencies has undergone radical change. Whilst the public’s expectation of the fire service as a response based fire and rescue service remains the same, the organisational expectations of fire fighters has increased markedly. To quote a senior Greater Manchester fire officer “The job of a fire fighter nowadays has changed from not just putting out fires… to almost being a semi social worker”.

This change was precipitated by the Bain report of 2002 and the resultant repealing of the 1947 Fire services Act to be replaced by the 2004 Fire and Rescue Services Act. No longer was it response, but prevention that became the fire service’s primary consideration. In line with this prevention orientated approach fire fighters nationally are now undertaking Home Safety Checks. It is the carrying out of these checks and the increased access into people’s homes that has brought about an increase in fire fighters generic skills. A fire fighter now has to be aware of a range of issues, some way beyond the fire safety sphere. These would include health and wellbeing of the occupant, child and adult protection issues, possible need for a vulnerable person’s referral or other agency involvement.

The rationale behind this is that the most at risk groups fall into the catchments of many public sector bodies. This is borne out in the MECC programme (Making Every Contact Count) and the Marmot review of public health. MECC is a means by which other, agency appropriate involvement can be sought through previously established referral pathways.

Through their prevention schemes, the fire services run a universal programme of home fire safety checks: they are in touch with members of the public from all sections of the community and not only attempt to prevent fires, but are also involved in running prevention programmes from home safety to road safety. They link up with schools, engage and inspire young people, visit people’s homes and develop relationships with the community – they are in the perfect position to deliver interventions and partner with other agencies to reduce health inequalities. The fire services do what every stakeholder involved in reducing health inequalities should do: engage directly with the community, work to provide them with the opportunities they need to live a healthy life and focus on prevention.”

Professor Sir Michael Marmot.

Of more recent concern for the fire service is an awareness of signs of radicalisation and counter terrorism for which the fire service forms part of the first and last line of domestic defence.

In addition to home safety checks fire fighters are actively engaged in local schools delivering targeted, curriculum supporting sessions on fire safety and road safety. Fire stations are considered a community resource. They can be used by external agencies if they are a better avenue into at risk groups.

The perverse incentive that was envisaged by decreasing calls is being realised (fires having fallen by 64% in 10 years). The continuing effects of the government’s austerity measures which has seen fire service budgets slashed by 25% over the last 4 years has seen staffing numbers and appliances decrease. This has come with increasing pressure from central government to adopt more use of retained (part time) fire cover as this is considered to be more cost effective. In response some metropolitan brigades are resisting these pressures believing them to be unworkable in major conurbations. This has brought about an increased and management supported use of social media. It would not be unusual now to find a fire fighter ‘tweeting’ from the fire-ground. Whilst this carries some risk to the organisation and people have on occasion had their fingers burnt. The benefit of informing the public of our activities is seen as outweighing the risk from the odd ill advised ‘tweet’ but is yet another example of the broadening role of the fire fighter.

Commensurate with that reduction in calls is a reduction in fire fighters experience. This has created a double edged sword, for while the public are becoming increasingly safer fire fighters are becoming exposed to more risk. Not just from a lack of practical experience but also because advances in building construction (double glazing, furniture) is making fires hotter and requiring far more refined technical skills to be able to adequately deal with and therefore realistic training needs to increase.

Fire services are now faced with the dichotomy of putting more time and resources into the ‘softer’ skills that, increase public health and safety, complement interagency work but ultimately reduce service demand and funding with the need for increased staff training and awareness not only in the equipment and procedures for personnel safety in an increasingly threatened world but also in the necessity for public awareness and marketing. The role of a fire fighter is not what it was.