Published 20 March 2023

NFCC to launch pioneering Direct Entry Scheme

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National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) is set to launch a Direct Entry scheme next month.

The scheme will enable those with proven leadership skills, from a variety of sectors, to apply for Station Manager roles without needing to have fire service experience or without needing to have taken the traditional firefighter promotional route.

A recruitment campaign will begin on 03 April 2023 through the appointed recruitment experts at Reed Specialist Recruitment Ltd.

Those recruited to the roles will be expected to acquire, develop, and demonstrate skills and expertise in management and command functions, as set out for their role in the nationally agreed applicable role maps. This development will be enhanced through a nationally designed, coordinated, and quality-assured process.

The primary aim of the scheme is to provide a different route to entry into the role of Station Manager, alongside the more traditional firefighter route, that can play a valuable part in diversifying senior management in fire and rescue services.

We are delighted that the Fire Service College will partner with the NFCC and early adopting Direct Entrant services to deliver the training programme.

There are a number of fire and rescue services from across the UK who have signed up to join the pioneering pilot to self-fund a direct entrant. These are all services that put public service and inclusivity at the forefront of their thinking; seeing the two as being inextricably linked.

Direct Entry Project Executive Rob Barber said:

“We hope that the scheme will draw new perspectives and experiences from the brightest and best who might not ordinarily have seen a career in the fire and rescue service as being open or attractive to them.

It is to be both additional and complementary to existing progression routes to ensure we continue to nurture and develop internal fire sector staff.

Being a Fire Officer is a tough job at times, but it is a hugely rewarding one. I am excited to see who puts themselves forward for this fantastic opportunity.

“Direct entry isn’t new to fire and rescue services but launching the scheme in a way that creates a supportive cohort right across the country is. The response from services wishing to be “early adopters” has been positive and I am confident we will be able to offer a compelling proposition to candidates from across the whole of the UK.”

CFO Dawn Whittaker Direct Entry Project Executive said: “Many of the leadership skills required to run a modern FRS are not dissimilar to those required in other sectors, with people, financial, partnership and commercial skills at the fore.

“By diversifying those in our more senior roles we can invest in the future of our sector, and those already involved in the scheme are doing just that.”

Services will benefit immediately from the skills and experience of proven leaders from other sectors as they build their operational competence.

The scheme is designed to be both additional and complementary to existing progression routes within the sector, complying with all existing terms and conditions, but doing it in a new and innovative way.

The project was launched to address some of the recommendations made in the HMICFRS State of Fire Report, which stated: “To provide the best possible response to the public, services need to be able to choose from the widest talent pool possible. That pool is currently restricted, with many people feeling excluded.”

The recent Government White Paper endorsed the work of the project, stating: “The NFCC Leadership hub is leading a project on direct entry schemes at the Station Manager level, as well as developing a coaching and talent-focused culture. This is a welcome development and should be supported by all services.”

Since its inception in 2020, the project team has engaged widely with stakeholders and has carried out a stakeholder consultation in 2021 to understand any barriers to success. There should be an assurance that the Direct Entry Project Board has a credible, quality-assured product for the fire sector, developed in conjunction with fire and rescue services.

Direct Entry is just one of a number of projects being delivered by NFCC’s Leadership Programme, supporting FRS staff to move through their careers at a pace that suits them. This includes the Coaching and Mentoring Portal, Talent Management Toolkit, Supervisory Leadership Development Programme, and the Middle Leadership Programme due to launch in April 2024. For further information, please contact NFCC Leadership