Published 30 April 2024

NFCC publishes Culture Action Plan progress report

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National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has today published an update on its work on culture and inclusion. The report sets out the progress made against the organisation’s Culture Action Plan, but underlines that there is still a significant way to go to make the UK fire and rescue service open, inclusive and welcoming to all people.

The report comes just over a year after NFCC’s Culture Summit which saw partners from across the sector meet to discuss challenges and concerns related to culture and inclusion. Following the summit and following His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services’ (HMICFRS) report into values and culture in fire and rescue services, NFCC produced its Culture Action Plan – launched last July.

The Plan set out a series of key deliverables aimed at improving public trust and confidence, improving the trust and confidence of staff and delivering a more diverse workforce that is inclusive of underrepresented groups, and people of diverse backgrounds and experiences. Those deliverables include, but are not limited to, supporting the adoption, implementation and embedding of the Core Code of Ethics across fire and rescue services; embedding the Fire Standards by setting out what good looks like across fire and rescue services; and developing guidance, tools and training around Safeguarding.

Today’s update cites positive progress made against the Culture Action Plan and the impact that is having in the sector. However, it also emphasises that there is a significant distance to go to make the sector a truly safe and inclusive place for all people.

In the last year, NFCC representatives have given evidence on their work on culture to the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Senedd’s Equalities and Social Justice Committee. NFCC said it has worked closely with HMICFRS to support ongoing inspections, and with national employers and trade unions. Whilst NFCC has no mandate to insist that fire and rescue services carry out specific actions, the adoption of NFCC tools and guidance has been noted by HMICFRS as evidence of the implementation of positive practice.

NFCC Chair, Mark Hardingham, said:

“Tackling poor culture remains the number one priority for NFCC.

“We have taken, and continue to take, concrete steps to root out poor behaviour and we’re beginning to see some of the impact this is having in the sector. Yet we are under no illusions about how far we still must go.

“We have witnessed, often firsthand, the disillusionment many people feel when progress is too slow or inconsistent across the sector.

“At NFCC, we accept without caveat that good culture relies on good leadership. We know that across fire and rescue services there has been a lot of activity focused on driving up standards in culture, but our message today is that there remains more to do.”