MANAGING RESOURCESIntroductionThe Fire and Rescue National Framework 2008-11 clearly state that its objective is to balance the expectations on the FRS so that it can deliver FireControl and other priorities. Specifically, these key priorities include enhance resilience capability, implementation of the Equality and Diversity Strategy, and a tighter fiscal climate within the FRA. This is to ensure that public expectations are met particularly in the area of modernization, efficiency, and effectiveness of public service (Communities and Local Government, 2008, p. 5). Following the framework, Fire and Rescue Services must be flexible in addressing future challenges of FireLink and FireControl and therefore should consider joint workings with other agencies, deliver efficient protection, prevention, and response, diversity of workforce, and effective governance and improvement (Communities and Local Government, 2008, p. 9). The New Dimension programme was created to enhance the capacity of the Fire and Rescue Services against new threats such as terrorism and large scale catastrophic incidents that requires additional training for fire fighters, new equipments, and planning.
However, the National Audit Office expressed its concern over the significant risk to value for money from some poor programme, project and financial management due to lack of financial discipline.
For instance, some programme do not have clear objectives, no detailed implementation plan, proper whole life cost budgets, milestones and appropriate monitoring. Recommendation from NAO suggests that some FRS needs to have highly trained project managers and qualified financial staff (National Audit Office, 2008, p. 7). The Audit Commission’s 2009 assessment report showed improvement in most FRS particularly in the area of fire prevention and protection of vulnerable people in their community. However, the commission noticed that improvement in the 29 percent or 13 FRS is slow particularly in the county council.
FRS use of resources showed little change with 40 services or 89 percent achieving the same level of performance as in 2007. Those performing well include Greater Manchester, Kent, and Merseyside fire services that showed strong financial management as well. In general, Fire and Rescue Services have been actively involved in LSPs or Local Strategic Partnerships and development of LAAs or Local Area Agreements to extend their role and influence in the community they served while the government is seeking value for money improvements as outline in the National Framework for FRS (Audit Commission, 2009, p. 4).
The following sections critically assessed the principles of resource management and analyzed the human resource management in the fire and rescue service. These include application of the principles of financial and physical resources, analysis of current procurement process in the fire and rescue service, and discussion and application of principles of operation assurance and evaluation. Human Resource Management in the Fire and Rescue ServiceHuman resource management in the Fire and Rescue Service is greatly influenced by government priorities and objectives as stated in the FRS National Framework 2008-2011.
In particular, Fire and Rescue Authorities needs to comply with certain requirements of Value for Money that include greater efficiency through joint working, partnership with LAA, and meet taxpayers’ expectations regarding use of resources. One of these resources is human resource, which fire and rescue must manage efficiently through strategic hiring and employment. For instance, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service employ fewer staff compared to others but still managed to maintain high level of performance.
According to their Value for Money Strategy for 2009, the Greater Manchester FRS employs more full-time fire fighters because it is serving an urban community where risk and social deprivation is greater (Greater Manchester, 2009, p. 11).