A fire and rescue service whose leaders understand and champion its inclusive approach to communications and engagement, contributing to its positive culture and working environment. Through good leadership, everyone knows both when to use effective communication to support the safety and well-being of their communities and people, and when to engage to gain insight, encourage involvement and build trust.
A service where everyone recognises and understands their important role in communicating and engaging, they communicate openly and effectively internally and externally and particularly through times of change. They actively listen and welcome feedback, especially through consultation to keep people engaged, informed and reassured. Its people develop and maintain positive relationships, within and outside of the service, building trust, creating advocates and resulting in successful collaborations and partnerships.
It ensures its vision, strategic objectives, and any information it needs to share are delivered in a way that is understandable and accessible to all because it tailors its communications and engagement approaches to suit its multiple audiences.
Based on its community risk management planning and driven by insight and engagement, the service knows who are the most vulnerable and in need in its community. It contributes to community resilience using effective techniques to connect with its communities. It draws upon established behavioural science methods to inform how it educates and encourages communities to adopt safer practices.
When carrying out its civil contingencies’ role and in times of emergency and crises, the service communicates clearly to warn, inform, protect and reassure the public, coordinating with others when appropriate.
It evaluates the effectiveness of its communications and engagement activities using learning to improve.
Strategic, Cultural and Enabling
Communications, Engagement & Consultation
- Date approved
- Date issued
- Review date
- Reference number
What is required to meet the fire standard
To achieve this Fire Standard, a fire and rescue service must:
- have a strategic approach to communications and engagement, including consultation, which includes clear principles about how the organisation will communicate with its audiences, aligned to organisational goals of the service, its values and the principles contained within the Core Code of Ethics.
- have leaders that support the strategic approach to communications and engagement and are exemplars in good communication behaviours and principles, aligned to those included in the NFCC Leadership Framework.
- ensure that everyone in the service understands their responsibilities in relation to communications and engagement.
- have an appropriately resourced and competent communications and engagement capacity that:
- plans for and manages reactive communication issues such as crises and emergencies, working with local resilience partners; and
- plans proactive communications internally and externally; and
- carries out meaningful engagement exercises and consultations, aligned to the Gunning Principles to inform strategic direction and support decision making processes
- have a resilient out of hours arrangement to handle enquiries and manage communications during crises and emergencies, in line with the requirements of the Emergency Preparedness and Resilience Fire Standard.
- support, train and develop those working within its communications and engagement capacity (where they are employed within a service) encouraging them to maintain their competency and keep developing their skills, knowledge and new methods of communication through continued professional development.
- deliver inclusive and accessible communications, recognising that every workforce, community and group has different and diverse needs.
- evaluate communications and engagement activity to see whether objectives have been met and if there are any lessons that can be learned and shared.
To achieve this Fire Standard, a fire and rescue service should:
- involve the most senior communications professional in their service in discussions with the leadership team about matters affecting the organisation to ensure communications and engagement aspects are always considered.
- ensure all departments liaise with and take advice from the communications and engagement functions as early as possible, when requiring any communications or engagement activity.
- use an established and consistent communications planning framework for communications and campaign work.
- place an emphasis on stakeholder relationships and management, mapping and analysing key stakeholders, prioritising audiences and managing influencers.
- use established behavioural science methods to develop interventions and influence positive behaviour change.
- use audience insight to inform and tailor communications and engagement activities, clearly defining and targeting audiences.
- have a collaborative approach to communications and engagement both within the service and with partners and stakeholders.
- seek to build effective relationships with relevant media outlets, proactively and collectively planning stories, building mutual understanding and exchanging feedback about proactive and reactive stories.
- stay well informed of new communications and engagement methods and techniques, applying them where appropriate.
A fire and rescue service may:
- enhance its engagement approach by partnering with key stakeholders to co-design service delivery to best meet community needs.
- Professionalise the communications and engagement functions by investing in their continued professional development through membership of a recognised professional body
Expected benefits of achieving the fire standard
This Fire Standard will contribute to the following benefits:
- Improved safety and wellbeing of the public, its workforce, and volunteers.
- A more engaged and informed workforce, contributing to a positive working environment.
- Heightened service reputation and increased public trust.
- Better planned campaigns leading to better outcomes for key service priorities.
- More effective crisis and emergency communications
- Improved outcome-based evaluation to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of communications and engagement work
Legal requirements or mandatory duties
This Fire Standard reflects only the most appropriate legislation to this topic. We recognise that fire and rescue services must comply with a broader list of legislation to undertake their duties, which would be applicable to all standards. View the legislation which applies to all Fire Standards.
Linked qualifications, accreditations or fire standards
Other Fire Standards:
- Code of Ethics
- Community Risk Management Planning
- Data Management
- Emergency Preparedness and Resilience
- Leading and Developing People
- Leading the Service
- Operational Competence
- Operational Learning
- Operational Preparedness
Linked Qualifications or Accreditations:
- Chartered Institute of Public Relations – accredited or chartered practitioner
- Chartered Institute of Marketing – associate or chartered marketer
There are other membership bodies supporting continued professional development for communications and engagement professionals, these include – but are not limited to – The Consultation Institute, Institute of Internal Communications, Market Research Society, and Public Relations and Communications Association.
Communications and engagement professionals in the fire and rescue sector are also automatically members of FirePRO, with access to training, resources and networking.
Guidance and supporting information
- The Government Communications Service’s OASIS Campaign Planning Guide
- GovS 011: Communication
- New Conversations: LGA Guidance to engagement
- Barcelona Principles 3.0
- Accessible Communications Formats
- The Consultation Charter
- The Principles of Behaviour Change
- Government consultation principles
- Gunning Principles
- Ofcom Communication Market Reports
- NFCC Stakeholder and Public Engagement
- NFCC Equality of Access
- NFCC Leadership Framework
Note Please contact the Fire Standards team within the NFCC for any queries or support with regards to this Fire Standard [email protected]