Published 26 July 2023
NFCC publishes the Culture Action Plan
Following NFCC’s Culture and Inclusion Conference on 27 and 28 March 2023 and the spotlight report from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) entitled ‘Values and culture in fire and rescue services’, released on 30 March 2023, the NFCC has developed a Culture Action Plan to address culture and inclusion within the fire and rescue sector.
Our fire and rescue services protect the public and save lives. The people in them are at the heart of this duty, and we know the public trust them to do their jobs well. To create, maintain and build on this trust, fire and rescue services must be inclusive, safe places to work; places where people are valued and supported. We believe that everyone deserves to work in safe environments that are free from bullying, harassment and discrimination, abuse and harm, where they feel supported, welcome and able to thrive. This, in turn, enables us to support fire and rescue services to provide the best possible service to the public – services that are inclusive, professional and inspire confidence and trust.
We know from national reports and from people sharing their lived experiences, that fire and rescue services are not consistently displaying the standards and behaviours set out in our core Code of Ethics. We need to change. The NFCC Culture Plan is our commitment to work with fire and rescue services, UK Governments and wider fire partners to deliver sustainable improvements and establish an inclusive, safe culture. The plan will do this by continuing to support services in developing effective leadership and behaviours, embedding equality, diversity and inclusion, finding and nurturing diverse talent, and supporting the health and wellbeing of people in fire and rescue services.
The NFCC consulted UK Fire and Rescue Services and wider national partners on the draft action plan and received extensive feedback, both written and through focus group discussions, which has informed the development of this Plan.
This NFCC Culture Action Plan is a renewed call to action to improve culture and address all forms of discrimination, bullying and harassment across UK fire and rescue services.
Working with partners, the NFCC will monitor and review progress, drawing on feedback and learning to continue to develop and implement the Plan.
The Action Plan also provides all leaders and staff across fire and rescue services with details of how the NFCC will support them to develop and embed a positive organisational culture in their services.
Cornwall Chief Fire Officer Kathryn Billing, NFCC Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Lead, said:
NFCC’s Culture Action Plan comes at a time when many have felt disillusioned by the slow pace of equality, diversity and inclusion progress across our sector. Serving in the fire service for more than 20 years, I have seen initiatives and plans come and go, but this time it is different. There is a strength of leadership, togetherness and the collective commitment for change and the momentum for progress has shifted from the minority to the majority. I am proud to be moving forward alongside colleagues across our fire services, NFCC, and from so many affiliated organisations to drive our culture transformation. The time for action is now to ensure our sector is fit for the future
Mark Hardingham, NFCC Chair, said:
As Chair of the NFCC, culture and inclusion is my number one priority. This action plan is an important step forward in working to build an inclusive culture across every UK fire and rescue service. In the plan, NFCC has brought together and will further develop a suite of programmes, guidance, standards, and frameworks to support services as they work to embed the values of inclusion and equality. We can only deliver it by working together, across our services and with all our partners, to ensure that we deliver the step change needed. We will continue to listen to the voices of those with lived experience to ensure that the plan delivers on its commitments. We know that change doesn’t happen overnight, but we will work quickly, and invest the leadership, time and resource needed to realise the aims of the plan.
An independent Challenge and Support Panel has also been established to provide external scrutiny, challenge and advice to the NFCC in its work around culture and inclusion, including delivery against the action plan. This new panel presents an important step forward in bringing external expertise and insights to inform work around culture, diversity and inclusion, with 7 panel members bringing expertise and experience from wider sectors. The Chair of the Panel is Anthea Sully, Chief Executive of White Ribbon UK, a charity working to end violence against women. Other panel members are:
Sal Naseem: Former Regional Director IOPC; strategic advisor DEI.
Sue Fish OBE: – Former Chief Constable; consultant – transformational change, leadership and equality.
Prof Katrin Hohl: Academic, University of London – Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)
Alex Johnson: Former Chief Fire Officer; vice chair of Women in the Fire Service.
Eimear Meredith-Jones: Deloitte partner – culture and transformation
Baljit Ubhey – Director of Strategy and Policy CPS
The panel had their first meeting this week and will meet regularly to provide independent challenge and advice to NFCC senior leaders.
The NFCC will work with partners and the new panel to monitor progress against the plan and will publish regular updates on progress.