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Gaining Competency


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As the title says, I am curious as to the procedures for gaining competence in other FRS’.

I have just gotten through my final assessment and bar an interview with the training department, a handshake and official sign off, I am now deemed as a competent firefighter. 

This is after 11 weeks at training school, 4 phases of a development book to complete  with 12 modules in each which require adequate evidence and online assessment for each module and then an end of phase final online assessment. 

Then 4 practical assessments spaced at 6,12,18 and 24 months. To finish there is a final comprehensive online assessment covering all topics. 

Prior to getting in WT I was “competent” RDS with the same service, and obviously had to still complete the development process in its entirety (I’m incredibly glad that I had to complete the entire process). 

What was your development process like?

For the ones who came over from RDS, did you have to carry out the entire development process and/or go to training school?

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I had been retained for two years in another service before joining Wholetime, i wasn't competent though and I did the full recruitment and training process (16 week course). My development consisted of a 3,6,9 and 12 month assessments at the training centre which covered basically everything we had learned. We also had to compete a level 3 fire ops in the community NVQ which takes around 18 months to complete but shouldn't take longer than 3 years. This included FF1 - FF9 of the FF role where we had to do presentations, talks on equipment, e-learning assessments, school visits/talks, safe and well visits, and a wide range of incidents/ training simulations. We had to gain evidence such as: turn out sheets, photos and witness testimonials from colleagues for literally everything we did, so it was quite in-depth.

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After the shortest Surrey career ever I re joined Kent as substantive whole-time this month. I'm competent on-call and had been temporary Wholetime in Kent too. I'm now on a four week conversion course after which we will go on station as competent. There hasn't been any precedent for this though, and the previous course was a mix of on-call to wholetime and external transferrees from other brigades.

For OC to Wt the training team wanted a minimum of eight weeks, some wanted us all to do a whole 16 week course. I can see the logic as we've had years of on call on temporary WT contracts and we have a huge difference in the level of skills/experience among on call due to how many stations we have and their varying levels of busyness.

To complicate matters we don't have a formal training record system at the moment other than paperless appraisals. The 2017 recruit course ( the first in a decade) all had to do the apprenticeship scheme, though im not sure if this is going to be continued for subsequent intakes.

Generally an on call trainee has to complete a 24 month development program to then be competent. For new wholetime, they will be deemed competent after 12 providing they "meet the required standard". On my course a good half are already on station as temp WT and are doing the course as a tick box to be made substantive. Those who were OC and applied through the public campaign as a new recruit have done the 16 weeks regardless and are treated the same as some one off the street. So a mixed bag

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Very interesting differences between brigades. 

@OscarTango KFRS development seems all over the place! At least you’re able to only do the 4 weeks conversion, it’s nice to see you’re previous experience being taking into consideration.

Historically in Warks they’ve taken RDS to WT with only a 2 week conversion and then landing on station as competent and understandably ruffling a few feathers. The quality of firefighters differed greatly also which led them to creating a strict process in which all FF’s new to WT regardless of previous service (other than Competent WT transfers) have to do the same course at training school and same development to keep a level playing field.  

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The new Kent recruits are doing an apprenticeship, but they’re undecided which one they will go on at the moment.

The OC transferees (of which we’ve had 6 in 1 hit) are being treated as the new recruits are at our station, until competency has been shown (we’ve been burned with previous temp WT from the OC at our station).

The competency at 12 months is not clear either. We’ve been put on competent pay from 12 months (decided 8 months after my year, so nice chunk of back pay), but we still have diamonds, doing the apprenticeship and have 24 month tests coming up in couple of months.

The processes are clear as mud. Kent hasn’t recruited for over 10 years and had got rid of all previous WT course notes, etc. This meant they had to start from scratch with a whole new training program and are still learning as they go at the minute. It’s getting there, but not quite spot on yet.

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