With British firefighters being deployed to Greece to tackle the ongoing wildfires, strong leadership within the Fire and Rescue Service is more important than ever.
At least 100 separate blazes have been sparked on each of the 10 days from when wildfires first started burning, and more than 24 countries have sent assistance in the form of firefighters, vehicles and equipment to contribute to the effort to contain and mitigate the devastating effects of the wildfires.
UK Firefighters Deploy
The UK has deployed 21 wholetime firefighters from Merseyside, the West Midlands, London, Lancashire and South Wales to the Pelopponese Peninsula in Greece to assist with efforts to quell the wildfires ravaging the country.
Technical Skills and Expertise
The officers are all part of the NFCC’s National Resilience team, established to provide emergency operational support at short notice, domestically and overseas. All the firefighters deployed are part of the International Search and Rescue Team (ISR) and are therefore used to adapting plans and changing risk assessments to be most effective. Nearly all the deployed firefighters are experts in their fields, permitted to travel at any notice and equipped from a specialist point of view. Faced with such a challenging, unprecedented situation, strong leadership behaviours will be essential.
Adaptability, Use of Resources and Safety Issues
British firefighters currently in Greece are bringing a toolbox of transferable skills to the situation. Without access to fire engines, they are ‘mopping up’ after Greek firefighters, ensuring hotspots don’t reignite and using manual tools to help create firebreaks. Firefighters from South Wales FRS are using a drone and thermal imaging to identify and extinguish hotspots. Faced with the challenges of limited equipment and a volatile climate, solid leadership will be required to ensure adaptability and best use of resources, alongside safety issues.
Firefighters from the UK are also playing a vital tactical role, liaising with Greek Civil Protection Authorities to understand the position, undertaking briefings and devising collaborative plans to fit in with the Greek systems and work effort. The team is tasked with analysing the direction of fire, monitoring weather and ensuring firefighter safety, and clear communication channels are therefore crucial.
Professionalism and Collaboration
Strong leadership is imperative for effective firefighting and prevention. Technical skills are essential, but must be supported by professionalism, effective communication and collaborative working.
The NFCC Leadership Framework lists personal impact, organisational effectiveness, service delivery and outstanding leadership as crucial for the most effective performance.
Identifying the Strongest Leaders with VCA
In the UK, Occupational Psychology Consultancy and Fire & Rescue Service experts VCA Ltd uses bespoke exercises tailored to identify strong leaders based on the Leadership Qualities set out in the NFCC Leadership Framework. The ability to select the best candidates for leadership roles with the Service is essential to ensure excellent performance and maximum benefit for the communities.