We were all really honoured to win the Partnership of the Year Award at the Excellence in Fire and Emergency Awards on 4 December. There were thirty or so nominations in this category and so many excellent contenders drawn from across the fire and rescue service: we know it was pretty special to win.
While awards are a wonderful recognition of our work, we also know that at the crux of this is the critical need to work together. For us, working together means, at a programme level, a strategic working relationship between the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, the Chief Fire Officers Association, the Local Government Association and the London Fire Brigade.
With their combined strategic direction and vision, our programme has been able to touch every single fire and rescue service in the United Kingdom. And every single one now contributes financially to make sure that the guidance is developed and made available for everyone.
We like to think of the programme as a partnership of equals. Partnership isn’t about telling others what to do. Fire and rescue services want to work with us because by sharing expertise and experience they can benefit from each other and drive change at a national level.
We often use the phrase ‘by the fire and rescue service for the fire and rescue service’, but we know not everyone can contribute to what we are doing. However, as long as enough are able to participate, the guidance will capture best practice to be used by this and future generations.
Using partnership to drive change is of course nothing new to the fire and rescue service. Community safety partnerships have been around for many years. There are amazing examples of fire and rescue services working closely with health – just look at Twitter to see how #fireasahealthasset is gaining more and more traction.
Working alongside JESIP means we are extending our interpretation of partnership well into the other emergency services. That intraoperability piece that we so often talk about, making sure fire and rescue services are consistent across boundaries is equally important when thinking about interoperability with the other emergency services.
And following this weekend’s flooding in northern parts of England, this is more important than ever.
In times where collaboration is seen as the route to efficiency, the need to forge partnerships and work hard at them is more important now than ever before.