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Operational Learning

Desired outcome

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.


Service Delivery

Business Area(s)


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:

  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:
    1. is responsible for ensuring that actions to support learning are implemented
    2. manages information received from the wider sector and determines what further action should be taken
    3. determines what information their service shares with the fire and rescue service or the wider sector, if appropriate
    4. 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:
    1. at incidents
    2. post-incident
    3. as a result of training exercises undertaken both internally and multi-agency / cross border
    4. as a result of near miss or accident investigations that may be relevant to operational response
    5. 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
    1. internally
    2. with neighbouring services and other responder agencies
    3. using the National Operational Learning system
    4. using the JESIP Joint Organisational Learning system
  8. Apply three fundamental approaches to managing operational learning:
    1. use National Operational Guidance as the common framework to identify the areas of operational activity where change may be required
    2. 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
    3. 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

Expected benefits of achieving the fire standard

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
Download Implementation Tool View Consultation

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

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