Internal comms expectations ‘gone into orbit’ in UK fire service

Internal comms expectations 'gone into orbit'

September 8, 2015

Expectations placed upon internal communication have “gone into orbit”, according to a fire service comms professional.

Make no mistake – the UK’s fire service is currently experiencing huge change.

And this evolution is proving a massive challenge for the fire service’s comms teams dotted throughout the country, says Bridget Aherne, head of communications for Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.

She told PRweek.com: “Crisis comms is a daily occurrence for us, be it something happening to us or to the public our firefighters serve so dutifully.

“With change now the only constant, expectation of internal comms has also gone into orbit.

“Yet services are committing what resource they have to substantial staff engagement to ensure employees are fully involved and informed throughout.”

Reforms of the emergency services show no sign of abating either.

With the UK government continuing to keep public spending on a tight rein alongside its ongoing austerity measures, times are tricky for the fire service.

Throw in to the mix the ongoing pension dispute between Whitehall and the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) and the situation is complex.

Bridget added: “As one of the smaller users of the public purse, fire services are feeling it more than most.

“Many services are facing no choice but to merge or buddy up with neighbours just to survive, while others are having to close fire stations, often against understandably strong public opinion.

“Yet against this backdrop, fire services comms teams are continually proving themselves to be among the most versatile, productive and creative anywhere in the comms world.

“Firefighting of the issues outlined above – I would say pardon the pun but constantly tripping over fire puns is an occupational hazard – would be enough to keep a well-resourced comms team busy for months on end.

“For a ‘team’ manned by just one or two people, as is frequently the case in the fire service, it’s a challenge to put it mildly.

“But we like a challenge in the fire service.”

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