Operational Learning


Operational Learning


A fire and rescue service that has developed a learning culture, acting on learning from operational and non-operational activity as well as external sources, to improve their operational response. The service will have embedded the management of learning into their policies, procedures, tailored guidance and training.

The service will have developed a culture which seeks to share their learning with others to improve operational response within their own service; with other fire and rescue services; and with the wider sector if appropriate.

Date of approval: 15/02/2021
Date of issue: 16/02/2021
Review date: 28/02/2024
Reference number: FSD-RSP02c

To achieve this Fire Standard, a fire and rescue service must:

1. Comply with legislative duties to monitor, maintain and improve the health, safety, and wellbeing of its employees

2. Recognise learning as a strategic level responsibility to embed learning into its management structures and processes and by appointing a responsible person for operational learning who:

  • a) is responsible for ensuring that actions to support learning are implemented
  • b) manages information received from the wider sector and determines what further action should be taken
  • c) determines what information their service shares with the fire and rescue service or the wider sector, if appropriate
  • d) makes clear how their service will engage with national level learning arrangements through an identified single point of contact

3. Have a process in place to act on National Operational Learning Action Notes and Information Notes

4. Have processes in place for capturing learning:

  • e) at incidents
  • f) post-incident
  • g) as a result of training exercises undertaken both internally and multi-agency / cross border
  • h) as a result of near miss or accident investigations that may be relevant to operational response
  • i) from any other sources

5. Evaluate learning to identify, assess and implement improvements

6. Evidence that learning is evaluated and that improvements have been adopted and embedded

7. Be able to demonstrate established mechanisms for sharing learning via any combination of the following

  • j) internally
  • k) with neighbouring services and other responder agencies
  • l) using the National Operational Learning system
  • m) using the JESIP Joint Organisational Learning system

8. Apply three fundamental approaches to managing operational learning:

  • n) use National Operational Guidance as the common framework to identify the areas of operational activity where change may be required
  • o) use a consistent approach to analyse and objectively compare what has happened against the control measures contained in National Operational Guidance which provide good practice
  • p) maintain an open reporting culture, even when details of learning are sensitive; concentrating as National Operational Learning does, on the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the learning and not the “who”

9. Reference the NFCC National Operational Learning: Good practice guide for fire and rescue services in policies, procedures, tailored guidance and training

National Operational Learning is an integral part of National Operational Guidance; used in combination they facilitate continuous improvement in the sector.

The National Operational Learning system provides a vehicle to identify new or emerging risks, monitor trends within the sector, recommend remedial actions, promote best practice and share learning across all UK fire and rescue services.

Expected benefits of achieving the Fire Standard include:

  1. A reduction in in preventable deaths, injuries and dangerous occurrences
  2. Sharing of operational learning for the greater good of the fire and rescue service and the communities they serve
  3. Internal improvements in services of their policies, procedures and training
  4. Sharing of operational learning for the greater good of associated responder agencies

Fire and rescue services are responsible, under legislation and regulations, for developing policies and procedures and to provide information, instruction, training and supervision to their personnel about foreseeable hazards and the control measures used to reduce the risks arising from those hazards.

There are many references to relevant legislation and regulations made throughout the National Operational Guidance framework. Some of the fundamental ones are shown below.

Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act

This act imposes a duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • The health, safety and welfare at work of all of their employees (section 2)
  • The health and safety of others is not affected by the work carried out by their employees (section 3)

The act also means that employees have a duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and of other people who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work (section 7).

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations

Regulation 5 states that every employer has to make and record appropriate arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of preventive and protective measures.

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR)

Under RIDDOR, all employers must report any work-related deaths, and certain work-related injuries, cases of disease, and near misses involving their employees wherever they are working.

Note: Please contact the Fire Standards team within the NFCC CPO for any queries or support with regards to this Fire Standard [email protected]