The educational requirements for UK public services have changed continually over the last decade or so. However, there has been nothing to compare with the shift in requirements being introduced to the police and FRS.

Complex role

Recognising the complex role that the police now play in society, by 2020 constables will need to have obtained a self-funded or sponsored degree in policing. They will also need to undertake a conversion course or join a degree apprenticeship. Working with vulnerable people and community interaction and safety are just some of the subjects studied.

This is interesting from a Fire and Rescue Service perspective in that it points the way in which the Service will heading in the next few years. The process of ‘professionalising’ the Service has been progressing over the last decade with courses at several Universities (including Wolverhampton). Students who go on to fill middle and senior management roles are increasing in number all the time.

Where does all this lead to? The policing model suggests that superintendent (equivalent to an FRS area manager) should attract a Master’s degree level candidate. It was also mooted at one point that a chief constable should have a doctorate, although this is not being pursued at the moment.

Fire and arson

Those closely involved with the Fire and Rescue Service already know that the role of the firefighter isn’t just about attending operational incidents. Preventing fires, identifying protection strategies and developing engineered solutions to protect buildings is also integral to the role. It is not an easy task and requirements are constantly increasing, and will continue to increase as we go forward.

Firefighters will eventually need degrees to get their foot ‘on the ladder’, a time which is approaching fast. Those thinking about this rewarding career will need to start considering the best way to gain that degree.

Photo by David Morris/CC 2.o

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