Fire and Rescue Services
Opinion Research Services (ORS) began working with the fire and rescue service in 1998 and in 2004 was appointed (via an OJEU tender) as the sole approved provider of research, consultation and consultancy services to the UK Fire and Rescue Service under the terms of the Fire Services Consultation Association (FSCA) National Framework Agreement.
The FSCA consortium includes over 50 fire and rescue services for whom ORS provides a wide range of services at prices well below the normal market rates. Following five years’ successful partnership work, we are delighted that another OJEU tender has led to ORS’ reappointment as sole approved provider under a new Framework Agreement.
Support to Fire and Rescue Services under the FSCA Framework
Under the Fire Services Consultation Association (FSCA) National Framework Agreement, ORS offers support to Fire and Rescue Services through the whole range of is surveys and services that we offer.
In particular, the ORS research team:
- Provides unlimited advice and guidance to FSCA members
- Is available to discuss potential projects frankly in order to promote excellence and ensure value for money
- Contributes to innovative consultation and research design
- Protects FRSs’ reputations in controversial statutory consultations
- Acts as an authoritative source of independent advice
- Interprets national guidance documents honestly and clearly
- Promotes partnership working and data sharing
- Promotes co-operative benchmarking
- Develops web sites and extranet services where required
- Provides training services when required
- Organises good practice conferences and seminars
Standard Benchmarked Surveys
Over a number of years, ORS has developed a suite of standard postal surveys that are benchmarked across all participating FRSs. In particular this includes:
- After the Incident (ATI) Surveys for Domestic and Business Premises – assessing satisfaction with the services provided by the Service
- Home Fire Safety Checks
- Fire Safety Audits
- Schools Fire Safety Audits
In addition, we offer a number of standard surveys including surveys of complainants, Authority Members and also employee surveys.
Working with the Chief Fire Officers’ Association and Scottish Executive, ORS was responsible for the development and implementation of a UK-wide National Cultural Audit survey for Fire and Rescue Services personnel. This work involved creating the first ever national cultural audit of the UK fire services – involving systematic benchmarking comparisons.
The project was originally implemented for the eight Scottish fire services and subsequently have been used by fire services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Currently around 30 of the English and Welsh fire and rescue services have used the survey, on one or more occasions. Read more...
In addition, ORS has developed a number of other employee surveys for the Fire and Rescure Services under the FSCA framework – including:
- General employee surveys
- Health and well-being and work-life balance surveys
- Equalities and fairness studies
ORS has also carried out an employee survey for the Fire Fighters Charity – this involved both a quantitative postal survey plus in-depth qualititative interviews following on from the initial survey.
Integrated Risk Management Planning (IRMP)
Over many years, ORS has worked with a significant number of Fire and Rescue Services to support the development of their IRMP programmes. These important plans underpin significant strategic decisions such as closure of stations or reduction of resources and assets and can often be very politically sensitive to the public, employees and stakeholders.
Below are examples of some of the Fire and Rescue Services we have worked with on IRMP consultations.
Hampshire Combined Fire Authority and the Isle of Wight Council
ORS designed and implemented a programme of employee, public and stakeholder consultation regarding the proposed combination of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Services. ORS worked for both fire services also to the Department for Communities and Local Government. Read more...
Royal Berkshire Fire Authority
ORS was commissioned by Royal Berkshire Fire Authority to design and implemented a substantial programme of public, stakeholder and elected member consultation on controversial changes to fire cover – including the sensitive proposed changes at Windsor Fire Station.
Lancashire Fire Authority
ORS convened and facilitated a series of public scrutiny forums, whereby 16-20 members of the public scrutinise and debate the issues under question in a deliberative way. This method has been used to discuss controversial and sensitive issues such as the closure of fire stations and changes to fire cover.
Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority
ORS was commissioned by Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority to design and implement a substantial programme of employee, public, stakeholder and elected member consultation on controversial changes – including the closure of fire stations, crewing changes and significant changes to fire cover.
Other Initiatives and Innovations
South East Fire Improvement Partnership
The South East Fire Improvement Partnership has worked with ORS to design and undertake a telephone survey of 5,000 households across South East England about satisfaction with services and home fire safety issues, including the important topic of unreported fires. Working in partnership, it has been possible to provide important social marketing insights to assist community fire safety and other initiatives.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Lancashire FRS worked with ORS to establish a systematic rolling programme telephone survey, with strict sampling and analysis procedures to gather important KPIs about all its important services. The sampling methodology is based upon the Home Office standards required of Police Forces undertaking telephone surveys, and the Lancashire initiative takes the After-the-Incident and other monitoring surveys to a new level of rigour – and other FRSs would be encouraged to consider the approach.
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service
Surrey FRS is working with ORS to recruit and manage a Fire Services Citizens’ Panel consisting of 1,000 people across the county. The panel is being recruited through a large and inclusive programme of by postal invitations, with on-street booster recruitment for hard-to-reach groups. It will be used for regular postal consultation and for the recruitment of focus groups on a range of topics.
North East Region Fire and Rescue Services
The North East Region Fire and Rescue Services have worked with ORS to develop new quantitative and qualitative tools to review their Initial Test of Potential and Assessment and Development Centre processes. These are obviously important issues and the approaches developed could be extended more widely to provide reliable information for those wishing to review their assessment procedures.