Published 25 October 2023

NFCC Direct Entry Scheme: Successful Appointment of Station Managers

We are delighted to announce that following the NFCC Direct Entry Recruitment campaign in April 2023, six individuals have been offered appointments as Station Managers within the fire sector.

Our congratulations go to the following fire and rescue services: East Sussex FRS, Staffordshire FRS, Oxfordshire FRS, Avon FRS, Leicestershire FRS. We also want to thank North Wales FRS and Shropshire FRS, who were integral fire and rescue services in this new process.

Although direct entry is not new to the fire sector, it is the first time there has been a national, robust, and quality-assured direct entry programme and process. The Scheme provides a different route of entry into the role of Station Manager, alongside the current and successful firefighter route. Together, both routes can play a valuable part in diversifying leadership in fire and rescue services.

Our direct entry recruitment has attracted many experienced leaders from outside the fire service who may never have considered the fire service as a career choice. It attracted applicants from many different industries, bringing valuable and different leadership styles and thinking, including education/teaching, the leisure industry as well as the military, retail, finance/banking, and the NHS.

Those recruited to the roles will be required to acquire, develop, and demonstrate skills and expertise in command disciplines, as set out for their role in the nationally agreed role maps. The project team worked in collaboration with Reed Specialist Recruitment, who delivered a successful recruitment campaign that received 842 applicants, with Reed’s Direct sourcing approach targeting diverse talent communities.

Diversity figures repeatedly demonstrated we were attracting above the national average for ethnicity and disability, with gender statistics broken down to 77.76% male and 20.24% female (with 2% either non-binary or preferred not to say). Candidates successful in the recruitment process went on to complete a Career Progression Gateway Assessment delivered by VCA Ltd and those who passed were interviewed by their chosen fire service. If successful, they moved forward and had to pass medical, fitness, and DBS Checks.

All new entrants will be welcomed to the fire sector by the NFCC Chair, Mark Hardingham, on Wednesday,15 November 2023, at Fire Service College.

The NFCC Chair, Mark Hardingham said: “The best fire and rescue service is one that has a diversity of people and talent. Alongside the existing routes through which firefighters will continue to progress to senior roles, the national direct entry recruitment and appointments provide an additional and quality-assured route through which great people can join our fire and rescue services, bringing a diversity of leadership and approach in many different forms”.

This will be the beginning of the Station Manager’s journey in the fire service. We are delighted the Fire Service College has partnered with the NFCC and early adopting direct entrant fire and rescue services to deliver the training programme. The training programme will be fully supported by the NFCC Direct Entry Operational Training & Development Course Director, who will be fundamental to bringing together the training programme between each fire and rescue service, Fire Service College, and the Station Managers in development.

The Project Executive, CFO Dawn Whittaker said: “A lot of people have worked hard in the development of the programme and through the recruitment process and it’s exciting to now start meeting the successful candidates for the services involved. I look forward to meeting everyone next month at the scheme induction day at Fire Service College.”

The Project Executive, CFO Rob Barber said: “Direct entry will provide a well-structured and defined development programme for people joining the sector at Station Manager level. It will bring in people with skills and experience from other sectors, which is really positive and will provide different perspectives on matters that will support sector development”.

The project has achieved many successes as well as far-reaching engagement and attraction from across the fire sector and outside industries. It is a critical piece of work that supports the delivery of the NFCC Cultural Action Plan (Detailed Plan), which is the NFCC’s commitment to work with fire and rescue services and other fire partners to develop effective leadership and behaviours, embed equality, diversity, and inclusion, find, and nurture diverse talent, and support the health and wellbeing of fire and rescue service staff.