A New Front Line? Workforce development issues from an evolving fire service

Tom Simcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
239 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose - Over the past twenty years, the UK Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) workforce have experienced significant developments as part of New Labour’s modernisation agenda with the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 and the increasing focus on prevention and community safety. Subsequent organisational changes and the introduction of new safety services dynamically altered the role of Fire Fighters and introduced new roles into these organisations. The purpose of this paper is to explore the issues relating to an evolving fire service workforce and the tensions present in the development of new professional roles.
Design/methodology/approach – An exploratory qualitative critical realist case study approach was undertaken, employing semi-structured interviews and focus groups of employees across one UK Fire and Rescue Service.
Findings – The findings of the present study identify several emerging issues from a changing fire service. In particular the frictions between different aspects of the organisation, and the tensions in the development of career ‘ladders’ for non-operational roles.
Originality/value – To the author’s knowledge, this is the first paper that examines the issues surrounding the development and evolution of professional roles in community safety aspects within the UK Fire and Rescue Service.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-205
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Emergency Services
Issue number2
Early online date14 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2021


  • Fire Service
  • Workforce development
  • Organisational Change
  • Community Safety
  • Prevention Agenda


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