As we enter a new year, it’s time to reflect not only on the tragedies of the recent past but also some of the successes. As part of wider safety and health agendas, the FRS has been remarkably adaptable to its role.

New year opportunities

Looking over the past two decades, firefighters have helped reduce accidental deaths to levels not seen in 50 years. But it’s not only fire deaths and road traffic accidents. They have also become involved in community-based preventative work. This included accident prevention in the home, juvenile crime reduction and even nightclub violence management.

It’s clear that the firefighters of tomorrow need to be adept at engaging with all groups, as public purse strings tighten even further. They will need both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills to influence the public to change their behaviours in numerous ways. With that in mind, knowledge of whole communities must be a key objective. By extension, understanding of techniques to build trust with the hard-to-reach will also be vital.

Required skills

The skills required for this need to be learned as early as possible to prepare for a role that will continuously evolve. Opportunities for development of these new and emerging skills can be accessed in a variety of ways. However, the best methods include a balance of theory and practical application in the field.

Lifelong learning programmes can help serving firefighters acquire this knowledge. New entrants who may even hold qualifications in these areas will bring new ideas and skills to the mix. Together, they can help the wider social health agenda and improve community well-being.

Photo by Mikey/CC 2.0

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