"There is a serious danger that fire policy will be developed on the basis of work carried out in the context of the market place rather than being underpinned by research which has been subjected to full process of academic rigour and peer review" Professor D Drysdale (European Vice-Chair, International Association of Fire Safety Sciences) and D T Davis (Chair of the Executive Committee, Institution of Fire Engineers). Fire Engineers Journal 61, 10, 6-7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Muckett, A. (2000) Mobilising the Community Forging links, adding value: Bringing volunteers into the Fire Service to make communities safer, dissertation for BCC,  http://www.fitting-in.com/muckett.htm

 

Senior Divisional Officer Martin Muckett  MBA, MIFireE, MIOSH, DMS (Dist) Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service

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“Volunteering is a fundamental building block of civil society.  It brings to life the noblest aspirations of humankind – the pursuit of peace, freedom, opportunity, safety, and justice for all people.

 

 

At the dawn of the new millennium, volunteering is an essential element of all societies.  It turns into practical, effective action the declaration of the United Nations that “We, the People have the power to change the world.”

 

 

 

 

-           The International Association for Volunteer Effort January 2001, the International Year of Volunteers.

 

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About this Research:

 

This is research has been awarded the Brigade Command prize for “outstanding international research project” for 2000.

 

“It is a first rate study which contributes to the body of knowledge on volunteering and has the potential to make a far-reaching impact in the way in which volunteers are involved in the Fire Service.”

Justin Davis Smith, Director of the Institute for Volunteering Research

 

ABSTRACT

In June 2000, Government allocated £120m over three years in order to increase the involvement of volunteers in the UK. The Home Office holds the responsibility to achieve Government's three-year target to involve one million more people in their communities, including the public services.


In 2001 a BCC international project was published. The project was awarded the book prize from the Fire Service College as an outstanding international research. The report of the research achieved a distinction at Maters degree level from Coventry University.

 

Evidence from the research reveals that UK brigades are assisted, operationally and increasingly, in community fire safety work, by a wide range of voluntary organisations. There is currently, minimal involvement of individual volunteers recruited from the public to complement the work of the paid staff of the service. The 'Friends of the Fire Service' scheme operated in Merseyside is the best example of an initiative of this type.

 

Evidence from the Merseyside experience was then used to develop a practical guidance document for UK brigades.  This guidance document has been published to assist those brigades that seek to involve volunteers to complement the work of paid staff. It includes advice on; identifying the role for volunteers; recruitment and retention, training supervision and support; and the legal framework for the involvement.

Martin Muckett MSc, MA, MBA, MIOSH, MiFireE.

 

Executive summary

This report describes a research project that explored how the involvement of volunteers in the UK Fire Service may be increased.

 

Previous research has concluded that volunteers in the Fire Service increased greatly the efficiency of Fire Services abroad. They have never been considered as a potential resource for the Fire Services in the United Kingdom (UK).

 

The Institute for Volunteer Research indicates that volunteers could add quantifiable economic value to the Fire Service as they do in many other public and private sector organisations in the UK.

 

Government believes that volunteering plays an important role in society by providing additional resources, binding communities together and nurturing democratic participation. In June 2000, Government allocated £120m over three years in order to increase the involvement of volunteers in the UK. The Home Office holds the responsibility to achieve Government’s three-year target to involve one million more people in their communities, including the public services.

 

Against this background, this research explored how the involvement of volunteers in the UK Fire Service could be increased. Four research objectives are considered; the extent to which volunteers are currently involved in the service; the drivers for and barriers to increasing the involvement of volunteers; the experience of other organisations in the UK and Australia; the way forward for the Fire Service.

 

Evidence from the research reveals that UK brigades are assisted, operationally and increasingly, in community fire safety work, by a wide range of voluntary organisations. The research also indicates that although UK brigades support paid staff to volunteer both in the workplace and the wider community, there is at present, minimal involvement of individual volunteers recruited from the public to complement the work of the paid staff of the service.

 

Experience from innovative UK brigades, the voluntary sector and the emergency services of Western Australia, demonstrate that the barriers to increasing the involvement of volunteers, recruited from the public to assist professional paid staff, can be overcome.

 

Evidence from the research was then used to develop a practical guidance document for UK brigades.  This guidance document has been published to assist those brigades that seek to involve volunteers to complement the work of paid staff. It includes advice on; identifying the role for volunteers; recruitment and retention, training supervision and support; and the legal framework for the involvement.

 

Finally, this report further recommends that:

·        Home Office develop a strategy that supports brigades who wish to involve more volunteers from the public [This has been done and includes the recommendation that UK brigades apply the practical guidance document to increase volunteers from the public].

·        The service more accurately records the involvement of all volunteers.

·        Home Office review progress against government targets for increased volunteers in the public services.

·        The National Joint Council for Fire Brigades should change the term ‘Volunteer firefighter’ to more accurately reflect their status.

Future research is conducted into potential Fire Service support for mentoring schemes for the young.

 

Acknowledgements

 

The research project described in this report was completed over a six month period and during that time I have been given assistance by many people and organisations. Without exception, those who gave of their time, knowledge, effort and enthusiasm did so with professionalism and good humour.

 

Among the first to offer support were staff and colleagues from Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate and Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, who managed my absence from work and provided facilities to study.

 

Academic guidance was given by Professor David James, Dr Terry Shevels and Mr David Thomas from the Fire Service college, whilst Dr Davis-Smith, the Director of the Institute for Volunteering Research exerted academic and technical rigor to the work.

 

Easing my access to the mass of supporting literature and Information Technology  for the project were staff from The British Library, the National Centre for Volunteering and Dr Martin Thomas and the staff of the Fire Experimental Unit. I am grateful for the persistent and consistent assistance provided by Jan Loxley and the staff of the libraries at the Fire Service College,

 

The research took me to numerous organisations, in the UK:

Merseyside Fire Service, Strathclyde Fire Brigade, Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade, West Midlands Fire Service and the Milton Keynes Safety Centre


In the Home Office:

The Active Community Unit, The National Community Safety Centre, Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate, Fire Policy Unit, Research and Development Section

In the wider community:

South Chiltern Volunteer bureau, Pontefract General Hospital, Camden Community project, The Red Cross, and Thames Valley Police.

 

In Australia:

The Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia, The Bush Fire Brigades in Western Australia and Victoria, Freemantle Volunteer Sea Rescue Group

Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade and the Country Fire Service of Victoria.

 

Finally, I would like to extend my personal gratitude to Tony McGuirk for suggesting the area of research. Also to Laurie Lavelle, Bob Mithchell and Jo Harrison-Ward, for facilitating and hosting my trip to the Australian emergency services and to Mike Read from the Fire Policy Unit, for his support for the volunteer guidance document. Throughout the project I benefited from the advice, guidance and professional encouragement offered by BCC tutors, David Thomas and David Harper, and from my mentor, Damian Smith, who allowed me to learn from his experiences.

 

 

Table of Contents

                                     

                                                                                               

Executive summary

 

 

 

 

Abbreviations

 

List of Tables

 

List of figures

 

 

 

 

 

1

Introduction

 

1.1

Background  to the investigation

 

1.2

A brief history of volunteers in the Fire Service

 

1.3

The aim and objectives of the research

 

 

 

 

2

Research methodology

 

2.1

Research strategy

 

2.2

Survey

 

2.3

Semi- Structured Interviews

 

2.4

Case studies

 

2.4.1

Observations

 

2.4.2

Questionnaire

 

2.4.3

Focus Groups

 

2.5

Evaluation workshop

 

2.6

Validation of research methodology

 

2.7

A Critique of the research methodology

 

 

 

 

3

Literature review

 

3.1

Methodology

 

3.2

Critical review

 

 

 

 

4

Investigation results

 

4.1

Survey

 

4.2

Semi- Structured Interviews

 

4.3

Case studies

 

4.4

Focus Groups

 

4.5

Questionnaires

 

 

 

 

5

Interpretation of results

 

5.1

The current involvement of volunteers in UK Fire Services

 

5.2

Drivers and Barriers

 

5.3

Overcoming the barriers

 

5.4

Key issues for practical guidance

 

 

 

 

6

Published Guidance for the Fire Service

 

6.1

Draft guidance

 

6.2

Evaluation workshop

 

6.3

Arrangements for dissemination

 

 

 

 

 

7

Conclusions

 

7.1

The current involvement of volunteers in UK Fire Services

 

7.2

Drivers and Barriers

 

7.3

What and how it is done

 

7.4

Key issues for practical guidance

 

 

 

 

8

Recommendations

 

8.1

Home office strategy to support brigades involve more volunteers

 

8.2

Fire brigades use the practical guidance to increase volunteers

 

8.3

Quantifying volunteers in the fire service

 

8.4

Reviewing progress

 

8.5

The definition of the term ‘volunteer’

 

8.6

Future research

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

 

 

 

Appendices

 

1

Research strategy – conceptual model

 

2

General letter from Home Office to brigades

 

3

Letter from Home Office containing questionnaire

 

4

Letter to Scottish brigades

 

5

Letter to Australian Council for Fire Authorities

 

6

Template of semi-structured interviews

 

7

Transcripts of semi-structured interviews

 

8

Questionnaire to volunteers

 

9

Summary comparative tables of questionnaire to volunteers

 

10

Focus group outcomes

 

11

The Universal declaration on volunteering

 

12

Draft Home Office strategy on Fire Service volunteering

 

13

Mobilising your community – a practical guide to bringing volunteers into the Fire Service to make communities safety.

 

 

List of Abbreviations

 

 

ACU

Active Community Unit, Home Office

BCC

Brigade Command Course

BITC

Business In The Community

CACFOA

Chief and Assistant Chief Fire Officers Association

CFA

Country Fire Authority, (Victoria State, Australia)

CIPFA

Chartered Institute of Public Finance accountants

CPA

Child Protection Act

FBU

Fire Brigades Union

FESA

Fire and Emergency Services Authority (of Western Australia)

FPU

Fire Policy Unit, Home Office

FSYTA

Fire Service Youth Training Association

HMI

Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate

HSE

Health and Safety Executive

IAVE

International Association for Volunteering Effort

IVR

The Institute for Volunteering Research

NCFSC

National Community Fire Safety Centre

NCV

National Centre for Volunteering

NJC

Nation Joint Council for Fire Brigades

RNIB

Royal National Institute for the Blind

RNID

Royal National Institute for the Deaf

RNLI

Royal National Lifeboat Institute

UK

United Kingdom

WI

Women’s Institute

WRVS

Women’s Royal Voluntary Service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


1        Introduction

 

1.1                Background to the investigation

 

In 1996 Assistant Firemaster Robert Coke conducted a BCC international research project entitled “The Use of Volunteer Firefighters in Metropolitan Areas”. His literature search revealed that there was “very little evidence” (Coke 1996:26) to suggest that volunteers had ever been considered as a direct Fire Service resource in the UK.

 

This is not the case elsewhere in the world. Coke’s research cites examples from overseas where volunteers are successfully engaged in operational duties; e.g. search and rescue from civil disasters. 

 

The conclusions of Coke’s research were that:

 

The use of Volunteers would “increase greatly” the efficiency and effectiveness of a Fire Service.

 

For Fire Services to use volunteers, there must be a “volunteering culture” in the nation that is reflected in the organisational culture.

 

The United Kingdom has a “volunteering culture” but it has not been transferred to assist in the provision of Fire Services.

 

The “non transference” is attributed to three factors:

·         Volunteers have never been considered in the major reviews of the service

·         The organisational structures of brigades and current risk categorisation preclude the use of volunteers

·         Fire Service tradition creates a “barrier culture” to change

An initial review of literature confirmed that the situation is very much the same as in 1996. There remains little evidence to suggest that the use of volunteers in the Fire Service is on the national agenda. However, there is anecdotal evidence that some UK brigades are beginning to use volunteers for operational and Community fire safety work.

 

In the Summer of 2000, the Government’s Spending Review (SR) cited empirical evidence from research conducted by the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) that volunteers provided quantifiable 'added value' to the public services by:

 

·         reducing crime levels

·         improving health services to the public

·         improving literacy and numeracy rates

 

Based on the estimates from the Institute for Volunteering Research, it is calculated that “for the £400 million spent on volunteering there is a notional economic return of £12 billion. So for every £1 spent by the public sector on volunteering there is an economic payback of £30. This figure highlights the enormous economic significance of volunteering.” (Home Office, 2000)

 

The spending review outlined the role that volunteering is seen to play in society by 'providing additional services, binding communities together, and nurturing democratic participation'. In order to increase the benefits from volunteering, the Home Office has been given the specific target to:  “Make substantial progress by 2004 towards one million more people being actively involved in their communities” (Home Office 2000). 

 

To attempt to achieve that target the Government allocated an additional £120 million over a three year period, to encourage initiatives that include:

·         Developing the national volunteering infrastructure with new arrangements for training and accrediting

·         Better marketing of volunteering opportunities

·         Better advice for potential volunteers

·         Deploying more volunteers in the public sector

 

Given Government’s intention to fund the involvement of more volunteers in the public sector together with empirical evidence that volunteers can play an important role in society, do add value to public services and would “increase greatly” the efficiency and effectiveness of the Fire Service, the question that this research seeks to explore is:

 

“How can United Kingdom fire authorities increase the involvement of volunteers?”

     


1.2 A brief history of volunteers in the Fire Service

Fire Service volunteering began in the United Kingdom in 1937 (O’Brien 1955) when the Auxiliary Fire Service was formed as a contingency for the second world war. By 1939, when the auxiliary service was mobilised, it was said to have almost 120,000 volunteer members.

The Auxiliary Fire Service was eventually disestablished in 1967 when its strength was still estimated to be over 13,500 (Coke 1996:27)

 

Since that time there has been a raft of literature dealing with the Fire Service engaging with voluntary organisations, particularly involving major incidents and, increasingly, community fire safety and crime and disorder initiatives (Home Office 1998) (LFEPA 1999).

 

In contrast, there has been very little work published in the UK in the area of volunteers being involved as a direct “in-house” resource (Coke 1996).

 

In 1998, the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) described two ways in which the Government supports volunteers who are involved in public sector work. Firstly, through the funding of voluntary organisations and, secondly, through local authorities and NHS Trusts which involve volunteers “directly in their own in-house activities” (IVR, 2000)

 

 


1.3 The Aim and Objectives of the research

 

The Aim of the research was:

 

 To determine how Fire Services in the United Kingdom can increase the involvement of volunteers.

 

 In order to explore the research question, the following research objectives were developed:

 

1.       To determine the current extent of volunteering in UK brigades.

2.       To identify the current drivers for and barriers to involving volunteers in UK brigades.

3.       To examine how the barriers to involving volunteers may be overcome.

4.       To develop practical recommendations for the UK Fire Service using 1 to 3 above.

 

 

 

 

 


2    Research methodology

 

2.1 Research strategy

Manstead and Semin (1998) point out the need to adopt a strategy which suits the type of research question.

 

In the light of empirical evidence (IVR 2000 and Coke 1996) that volunteers can add value to society and public service brigades, and that the government has additional expenditure over three years to involve more volunteers in community activities,  including the public sector (Home Office 2000),  the research question was framed specifically “To determine how Fire Services in the United Kingdom increase the involvement of volunteers?”

 

To make best use of limited resources, outlined by Hakim (1982) and address the question within Government’s time-frame for additional expenditure, an interpretative method of research was chosen. Each stage of data collection was followed by some initial analysis, the results of which were then used to inform subsequent data collection (Robson 1997 p18). 

 

Due to the complexity of the data sources available, a hybrid interpretative research strategy was developed . This approach also enabled the author to learn from the application of a wide range of research methodologies.

 

To maintain the focus and direction of the study, the research question was explored by setting four research objectives:

1.       To determine the current numbers of volunteers and the extent of volunteering in UK brigades.

2.       To identify the current drivers for and barriers to involving volunteers in UK brigades.

3.       To examine how the barriers may be overcome.

4.       To develop practical recommendations for the UK Fire Service using 1 to 3 above.

 

The first application of the research objectives was to provide the focus for the literature search (primary data, e.g. BCC reports; secondary data, e.g. journal articles; and tertiary data, e.g. social science text books) gathered from a wide range of sources.

 

 The research strategy, incorporating the four research objectives, employs multiple methods of data collection based on the complementary purposes model suggested by Robson (1997:290), in which a variety of qualitative and quantitative tools are used to analyse data from diverse sources to achieve multiple triangulation (Arksey and Knight 1999:22). This approach was selected because it is widely accepted (Robson 1997; Arskey and Knight 1999; Saunders et al 2000) that the use of the data from triangulated, complementary sources “enhances interpretability and assesses the plausibility of threats to validity” (Robson 1997 :291). A conceptual model illustrating how the objectives were achieved is shown in Appendix 1.

 

The model demonstrates which analytical tools were applied to the complementary data in order to help ensure valid and reliable findings The final stage was an element of action-based research by adopting a “Responsive Evaluation” (Robson 1997:177).

Responsive Evaluation is considered to be a significant feature of the research strategy. Its inclusion is an attempt to ensure the conclusions and recommendations from the research have both credibility and impact in the real world.

 

The research process was designed to be iterative; as such it reflects the interpretative philosophy in that data collection and evaluation are not rigidly separated. It is a framework that provided a focus for the research, which drew on data from five discrete research activities:

·         Survey

·         Semi-structured interviews

·         Case studies

·         Focus Groups

·         Questionnaires

 

The following sections outline the research methods used for each of these activities.


2.2 Survey

A survey of all UK brigades was conducted in order to achieve the first objective of the study; To determine the current numbers of volunteers and the extent of volunteering in UK brigades.

The survey was based on a questionnaire. The design of the questionnaire was informed by questionnaires that had been used in two recent similar surveys:

 

1         A survey questionnaire used by the Institute for Volunteering Research in 1999, to determine the extent to which UK fire authorities supported volunteering.

2         A Survey questionnaire used by the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate which had been used to determine the extent of volunteering in the UK Prison service.

 

In addition to achieving the primary purpose of the survey, the questionnaire was extended to obtain data to support the other objectives of the research. The resultant survey questionnaire is shown at Appendix 2, was designed to gather data relating to:

·         Volunteering amongst Fire Service staff, both work related and in the wider community

·         Established voluntary organisations that brigades were working with

·         Determining to what extent individual volunteers from the public were directly involved in the work of the Fire Service

·         The management of volunteers

·         Future plans to involve volunteers

The questionnaire was sent to all brigades in England and Wales by the Fire Policy Unit of the Home Office and to all Scottish brigades directly by the author.


2.3 Semi-structured interviews

 

To obtain data to achieve the second objective of the research, the author conducted semi-structured interviews with representatives of the key stakeholders of the Fire Service.

 

This method of data collection was selected for three reasons:

 

1     The author considered that any change in the Fire Service is most likely to be achieved when its key stakeholder’s needs and expectations have been considered. As others have observed, “Understanding stakeholders and how they are likely to influence an organisation… is a very important part of any strategy analysis”  (Johnson & Scholes 1993)

 

2     Semi-structured interviews allowed a degree of focus to enable data relating to the research objectives to be gathered, whilst at the same time provided the flexibility for respondents to offer related views that could develop knowledge of the subject and/or identify new areas for exploration.

 

3     To optimise the author’s preferred learning style, which had been revealed from an analysis of cognitive style suggested by Allison Hayes (1993). This indicated that face to face discussions were likely to be an effective method for the author to gather data.

 

The list of stakeholder groups was identified through the author’s previous experience of working with the Joint Strategic Committees of the Central Fire Brigade’s Advisory Council and confirmed in discussions with course tutors.

 

The template for the semi-structured interviews was developed initially to ask questions relating directly to the four research objectives. The template was piloted with three people, one from the Fire Service, one from a related organisation, (the Health and Safety Executive), and the author’s technical assessor. Following the piloting some questions were refined, supplementary questions were added and standard prompts were also included in order to increase the standardisation of the data. The resultant interview template (shown at Appendix 6) facilitated the collection of data related to:

1.       The definition of the term volunteer.

2.       The voluntary activities that Fire Service stakeholders would consider acceptable.

3.       Any perceived drivers for and barriers to volunteers in the Fire Service.

4.       Any other relevant information

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the following individuals:

Jeff Breedon

National Officer of the Fire Services Youth Training Association

 

Gareth Broughton

HM Acting Principal Inspector of Health and Safety in the Fire Unit of the Health and Safety Executive

 

HMI Graham Meldrum

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire Services (England and Wales)

 

Rab Coke

Assistant Firemaster, Operational Commander Strathclyde Fire Brigade (author of previous research)

Mick Donald

Volunteer Manager,  Strathclyde

 

Ian Evans

Head of National Community Fire Safety Centre

 

Mike Fordham

Assistant General Secretary Fire Brigade Union

 

Mike Larkin

Higher Executive Officer working in the Fire Policy in the Community Fire Safety Team

Brian Murray

Firemaster, Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade

 

Tony Ritchie

Chair of the Local Government Association Fire Executive

 

Dr Justin Davis Smith

Director the Institute for Volunteering Research

 

 

The findings from the semi-structured interviews were used to inform the next elements of the research which were to gather data from the field, by means of case studies, focus groups and questionnaires to volunteers.

 

2.4 Case Studies

The purpose of conducting case studies was to collect data to achieve the third and fourth of the research objectives, ‘to examine how the barriers to volunteers in the Fire Service may be overcome’ and ‘to inform the development of practical recommendations for the UK Fire Service’.

In order to achieve an international perspective, case studies were conducted in the UK and Australia.

The reason for conducting case studies in Australia was that the initial literature review had identified difficulties in the cultural context of volunteering. During the semi-structured interviews, stakeholders of the UK service were dismissive of the notion that the often-quoted German experience (Coke 1996, Tucker 1994) had any relevance to the UK position. Australia was selected for three reasons:

1     There was evidence that it was culturally closer to the UK than geographically closer countries. (Hall 2001, Lavelle, 2000)

2     The large size of the fire authorities in Australia and the diversity in the density of the population, has resulted in the emergency services managing large numbers of volunteers who come from a variety of backgrounds and undertake a wide range of activities.

3     The size of the voluntary (non profit) sectors as a percentage of the UK are similar to that in Australia and therefore the experience of the Australian Emergency Service is likely to be relevant to the socio-economic climate of the UK.

 

Figure 2.4.a.  The size of the non-profit sector
 

                        Source: John Hopkins nonprofit comparative study

 

 

The choice of case study subjects was determined by the data from:

·         The initial literature review

·         The Survey of UK brigades

·         The semi- structured interviews with stakeholders

 

Table 2.4.a. below, shows the organisations which were finally selected as case studies, along with the reasons for their selection.

Table 2.4.a: Case study organisations

Organisation

Reason for selection

In the UK:

 

Merseyside Fire Brigade

The brigade is developing the use of volunteers as ‘Friends of the Fire Service’

Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Employs large numbers of ‘volunteer’ firefighters

Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade

Employs large numbers of auxiliary firefighters

Pinderfields and Pontefract General Hospital

Cited by the Government as a ‘shining example’ of how volunteers are involved in a public sector organisation.

West Midlands Fire Brigade

Have had a small volunteer group of retired firefighters to provide an ‘after the fire’ service for the victims of fire

Thames Valley Police

In 2000 began an initiative to increase the numbers of civil volunteers operating from Police Stations

The Safety Centre, Milton Keynes

The safety centre provides fire safety education, through volunteers, to groups of visiting schoolchildren. It was cited as an example of community safety best  practice by the national community safety centre.

In Australia:

 

The Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia (FESA)

Largest single Fire Service organisation in the world managing in excess of 24,000 volunteers

Victoria Metropolitan Brigade

A large metropolitan area that has very busy volunteer fire stations.

The Country Fire Service

A large rural Fire Service that has conducted significant  research into the future of  volunteers in the Fire Service.

 

The case study approach enabled an examination of volunteers within varied cultural and organisational contexts (Morris and Woods 1991). In addition case studies are considered to be a very worthwhile way to explore and challenge existing understanding (Saunders et al 1997).

 

The case study strategy adopted reflected what Robson (1993, p-5) describes as an empirical investigation of a phenomenon with its real life context, using multiple sources of evidence.

The first step was to conduct a passive surveillance of documentary evidence on each case in order to determine the focus for closer examination and which of the following three independent methods should be used to source more in-depth data: 

1         Observations; comprising face-to-face discussions with volunteer managers and others, supported by the collection of local documentation.

2         Questionnaires; to various groups of volunteers relating to their experience as volunteers

3         Focus groups; that allowed in depth discussion with groups of volunteers, whilst maintaining a sensitive approach to any local issues.

 

The methods applied in each case study depended upon the reason for the selection of the case study. For example, the Country Fire Authority was visited to gain an insight into the research that had been conducted and to access supporting local documentation. However, in Western Australia, focus groups were used to gain an in depth understanding from a variety of long established and evidently well-managed volunteer groups.

 

2.4.1    Observations

The Observations were conducted against a common template which allowed the systematic collection of data. The template for the observations had five elements:

 

1                     Material which provided a background to the organisation

2                     Reasons why the organisation had involved volunteers in its activities

3                     What ‘duties’ the volunteers were actually doing in the organisation

4                     Had the organisation overcome any of the barriers that face volunteers in the UK Fire Service

5                     Any other relevant material

Data from the observations were used in a number of ways. In the most part, by providing context for the analysis of other data sets and as a source of documentary evidence to support the achievement of the fourth objective of the research, which was to develop practical guidance for the UK Fire Service.

 

2.4.2    Questionnaire

A questionnaire (shown in Appendix 8) was used to elicit the views of volunteers from the various case study organisations.

The aims of the questionnaire were to twofold; firstly, to collect data relating to why and how volunteers were recruited for Fire Service type activities, what their experience of the voluntary work has been and why they have stayed. The second purpose of the questionnaire was to provide an indication of the reliability of adopting management methods from non-UK Fire Service organisations for the UK Fire Service.

 

In order to achieve both aims, the questionnaire was based on the questions that had been applied in a major national study of volunteering conducted by the Institute for Volunteering Research in 1997.

 

In order to confirm the reliability of the data and to identify statistical significance, the data from the questionnaires were analysed using quantitative statistical techniques using the software programme ‘Statistica’.

 

 

 

 

 

2.4.3    Focus Groups:

The author considered it important, where possible, to get a clearer understanding of why and how volunteers involved in the work of the Fire Service first of all were recruited and retained.

In order to gather data, focus groups were conducted using a white board or flip chart to record and agree the key issues where time and resources permitted. The organisations where focus groups were conducted were selected by purposeful sampling. Purposeful sampling allowed the author to “select groups based on the purpose of the study” (p 204, Krueger and Casey, 2000). The structure of the focus groups was adapted from that recommended by Krueger and Casey (2000) as suitable for conducting focus groups in existing organisations. The questions were developed in consultation with the Director of the Institute for Volunteering Research and were designed to give an insight into:

·         Why volunteers gave up their time and effort to work as volunteers

·         How they were recruited

·         What made them stay

·         How the experience of being a volunteer differed from their expectation

 

The data from the focus groups was analysed using the grounded theory approach as described by Pidgeon and Henwood (1996) which allows the analysis of qualitative data that is achieved from the type of data-rich but sometimes unstructured notions that often occur during a dynamic focus group discussion.

 

Once the comments from the focussed groups were consolidated, using grounded theory, the author adapted the long table (Kruger and Casey 2000) approach for further comparative analysis. The long table approach, described by Kruger and Casey (2000:132), allows the identification of themes, by cutting and pasting the responses from the focus groups into a consolidated table. This enabled the author to identify where there were patterns to the responses and where they were novel responses.

 

 

2.5 Evaluation workshop

     

This was a key stage of the research process. It was included because the author is particularly keen that stakeholders of the service have an opportunity to consider the research findings and how they might contribute to supporting the Home Office target for volunteers.

 

The purpose of the evaluation workshop was to provide what Robson (1993 p 176) cites as a “Responsive evaluation”. Robson cites Stake (1976) who provides the following 5 step model to achieve Responsive Evaluation of data.

1.       Identification of the issues from the people involved during the semi-structured interviews

2.       Use of documents to identify further issues

3.       Direct observation of the work

4.       Designing the evaluation based on 1 + 2 +3 above

5.       Designing a participative evaluation based on the information above

 

The model in Appendix 1 shows how these five steps were built into the research strategy. This approach has allowed a rigorous and informed evaluation of the draft guidance to the service. In addition, it is considered by the author to increase stakeholder commitment to the findings.

The evaluation workshop was held in London and was attended by representatives of the stakeholders of the Service, volunteers and volunteer managers who had been involved.

 

 

2.6          Validation of research methodology

The research aims, objectives and initial methodology were presented to students of Brigade Command Course 2000 at the Fire Service College. Students were asked for their comments and any suggestions for improving the research project. This exercise was adapted from the Dephi technique (Saunders et al,1997) whereby students made unattributable responses to a request for ideas to improve the methodology. The responses from students resulted in the refinement of the methodology and consideration of additional texts and areas of study.

 

2.7          A critique of the research methodology

The multivariate approach to the project was adopted in part to facilitate an understanding of a wide range of methodologies. In addition, the qualitative nature of the data collection methods selected allowed the author to develop the management competency of building and maintaining relationships. However, because the methodology required the application of a number of techniques that were novel to the author, the process was somewhat slower than perhaps would have been the case with a more experienced researcher. In addition, the responses from both the survey and questionnaires were received much later than originally expected.

 

As a  result, whereas the analysis from one stage of the research was designed to inform the subsequent stages, in reality the stages of the research overlapped. This meant that instead of having cumulative, complete findings at each stage of the research it became a much more flexible situation with the author having to rely on a feel for the data from earlier stages of the research informing the later. The result was that the material sought in the case studies by necessity, was wider than originally intended to ensure all sufficient data was available for the final analysis.

An unexpected result of the emergent, homogeneous, rather than step-wise approach to the study was that the final recommendations and practical guidance document for the service were the subject of an iterative approach. An approach which, although more difficult to administer, is considered by the author to have produced a more complete work.


3          Literature review

 

3.1       Methodology

 

A list of possible search terms was drawn up for the initial literature review using sources from the Fire Service College Library, Surrey University, The British Library, The National Centre for Volunteering, the Institute for Volunteering Research and the internet. A wide variety of CD-ROM based and on-line computer databases, which might hold relevant literature citations, were also accessed.   On-line versions of CD-ROM databases were used where available to ensure that searches revealed as much recent material as possible.

 

The search terms used were: Volunteers, Voluntary organisations, and Volunteer Fire Fighters.

 

Due to the breadth of literature available, titles and abstracts were scanned first, then where items of possible relevance were identified, the full text was obtained.

 

The full text was then scanned to ensure relevance before being read and abstracts and quotes were selected for inclusion into the review report. 

 

The abstracts and summaries were then ordered to establish the level of existing knowledge (both general and Fire Service specific) in support of the four research objectives.

 

Additional primary and secondary literature was obtained during the case study stage of the research and used as reference material where appropriate through the study.

 

 

 

 

3.2       Critical review

 

 

In order to conduct a rigorous and systematic appraisal of existing literature on volunteers it was necessary to have a grounded understanding of the term “volunteer”.

In 1992 a review of the information from a National survey conducted in the UK voluntary sector concluded that it was not possible to say “With any degree of certainly, how many people are involved in Voluntary action in Great Britain at the present time.” (p 73 Hedley and Smith 1992). The research also found that it was not possible to identify any trends in volunteering in the UK. The reasons given for this were that although a number of surveys had been carried out over the previous 15 years, each one had applied different definitions to the terms ‘volunteer’.

A definition of volunteering that the Institute for Volunteering Research has adopted since 1981 is:

“any activity which involves spending time, unpaid, doing something which aims to benefit someone (individuals or groups) other than or in addition to relatives, or to benefit the environment.” (Davis-Smith 1997:13)

 

This is a definition that is supported by others involved in the voluntary sector. A major research project in Australia confirmed that Volunteers are those who give “unpaid assistance in the form of time, service and skills to help others” (Reinholtd and Smith 1998:1).

 

In time, a new aspect to the definition emerged. Volunteering was increasingly seen as the result of the exercise of free will. In the UK, in 1999, the Government Unit responsible for implementing governmental policies on volunteering provided an interpretation of volunteering.  “The commitment of time and energy for the benefit of the wider community, the environment, or individuals outside one’s immediate family, with this commitment undertaken freely, by choice and without concern for financial gain”. (Active Community Unit 1999:9)

 

Despite the 1981 definition that continues to be used for comparative research (Davis-Smith 1997), more recent definitions indicate that the term volunteering conveyed three key notions:

1          That it is done freely and without coercion

2          That it is done to benefit the wider community

3          That it is done without payment

 

The most recent example of this definition is found in a report of the 16th World Volunteer Conference of the International Association for Volunteers in January 2001. In the report, volunteers were described as those people who “freely offer their time, talent, and energy to others and to their communities through individual and collective action, without expectation of financial reward.” (The International Association for Volunteer Effort 2001)

 

This definition was adopted in the search of available literature in order to establish the level of existing knowledge in relation to the objectives of the project:

 

1          To determine the current numbers of volunteers and the extent of volunteering in UK brigades.

2          To identify the current drivers for and barriers to involving volunteers in UK brigades.

3          To examine how the barriers may be overcome.

4        To develop practical recommendations for the UK Fire Service using 1 to 3 above.

 

The following sections review the available literature for each of the research objectives.

 3.2.1 The current numbers of volunteers and the extent of volunteering in UK brigades.

The literature review failed to identify any significant evidence relating to the numbers of volunteers in the UK Fire Service.

 

In 1996 Assistant Firemaster Robert Coke conducted a BCC international research project entitled “The Use of Volunteer Firefighters in Metropolitan Areas”. His literature search revealed that there was “very little evidence” (Coke 1996 pp-26) to suggest that volunteers had ever been considered as a direct Fire Service resource in the UK.

 

A search of the literature available in 2000 found evidence regarding the extent of volunteering in the UK Fire Service from only two sources.

 

1                      Chartered Institute for Public Finance Accountants (CIPFA) and

2                      A a survey conducted by the Institute for Volunteering Research in 1998.

 

According to CIPFA (CIPFA 1999) the numbers of volunteer fire-fighters in UK Brigades is 1, 303. This figure is based on the returns from each brigade in the UK. The definition of the term ‘volunteer firefighter’ used by CIPFA is found in the National Joint Council for Fire Brigade’s  Conditions of Service book which states: “When a volunteer firefighter is engaged on authorised duty, he or she shall be paid at the hourly rate applicable to retained firefighters for pre-arranged attendances (NJC 2000, Section 7.2 Paragraph 10).

 

This payment for duty takes volunteer firefighters outside the nationally and internationally accepted definition of ‘volunteer’.  Further doubt is cast on the validity of the term ‘volunteer firefighters’ by the fact that Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade, which was  reported by CIPFA to have the greatest number of volunteer firefighters, has changed the nomenclature to more accurately reflect their status. Highlands and Islands Fire brigade now refer to ‘volunteer firefighters as “auxiliary personnel” (Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade 1999:9)

 

In 1997 the Institute for Volunteering Research conducted a major survey to establish the numbers and expenditure on volunteers across the public sector in England. The data received for this survey were generally poor due to the fact that many public bodies, especially at a local level, were “unable to provide figures on their support for voluntary activity which indicates a lack of awareness of, and interest in, volunteering in the public sector”. (Institute for Volunteering Research 2000).

 

However, from the 30 responding brigades, the survey was able to concluded that:

 

Fire Authorities in England involve volunteers in catering, maintenance and firefighting.

Many authorities supported staff to become involved in their local communities and almost all of the authorities reported that firefighters did arson awareness and prevention training on a voluntary basis.

Approximately 50 volunteer firefighters were involved in the training of the young unemployed

The extrapolated, quantified support for volunteers by fire authorities in England was £0.4 million

 

 

3.2.4        To identify the current drivers for and barriers to involving volunteers in UK brigades.

3.2.4.1 Drivers

The literature revealed evidence that volunteers add value to organisations by being energetic and enthusiastic, by broadening the skills, knowledge and experience base of the organisation and by strengthening the links with the local community. Some argue that a basic qualification for vocational careers should be a year’s voluntary work. “This would result in a highly motivated, enthusiastic workforce”. (Rayner 2000)

 

A Study in Canada (Tansky and Gallagher 1995)  recently concluded that voluntary part-time workers had significantly positive attitudes towards their employers.

Companies initially take in community schemes to put something back, but in doing so they gain knowledge and experience. (Corning 1999) She quotes a report from management consultants McKinsey (unattributed) that agues that ‘ voluntary organisations often display precisely those management skills that leading companies are struggling to acquire, particularly in managing change'

 

Contemporary research in the UK Fire Service concludes that the use of volunteers would “increase greatly” (Coke 1996:119) the efficiency and effectiveness of a Fire Service.

 

There is research showing that the benefits that volunteers bring to organisations can be quantified. For example, in 1997 the Institute for Volunteering Research calculated that “for the £400 million spent on volunteering (in the UK) there is a notional economic return of £12 billion.” (IVR 1997) The Institute estimates that for every £1 spent by the public sector on volunteering there is an economic payback of £30.

Further work by Mobinul (1999) argues that the economic value of the work of volunteers should be estimated by considering the cost of maintaining a workforce to do the work. Mobinul postulates that if the Service paid staff to carry out the complementary tasks that volunteers are currently doing, they should count the cost of the provision of service by paid staff.

 These studies attempt to quantify the economic arguments for involving volunteers in organisations. A more tangible driver for the UK Fire Service was provided in the Government’s 2000 Spending Review. 

 

The Spending Review (Home Office 2000) firstly confirmed the role that volunteering is seen to play in society by 'providing additional services, binding communities together, and nurturing democratic participation'. Then, in order to increase the benefits from volunteering, the review pledged an additional £120 million over the next three year period, to encourage on initiatives that include:

·         Developing the national volunteering infrastructure

·         Better marketing of volunteering opportunities

·         Better advice for potential volunteers

·         Deploying more volunteers in the public sector

 

To ensure progress, the Active Community Unit of the Home Office has been given the specific target to:  “Make substantial progress by 2004 towards one million more people being actively involved in their communities” (Home Office 2000). 

 

This support for volunteers looks set to continue. “Labour has always seen a partnership between the state and the voluntary sector as an essential building block of a modern welfare state.” Davis-Smith (2000)

 

There is evidence already that the Fire Service can gain access to this additional funding. Merseyside Fire Brigade has made a successful match-funding bid to increase the scope of a pilot volunteer scheme within the brigade. (McGuirk 2000)

 

The reviews of literature so far has indicated that volunteers bring quantifiable benefits to organisations, could greatly increase the effectiveness of the service and are being encouraged by a three year spending plan from central government. But are there sufficient people in the UK to be involved in the Fire Service as volunteers?

 

In 1997 Hems and Doorn (1998:178) calculated that “some 130,000 active general charities in the UK benefited from the unpaid work of over three million volunteers.” This is contrasted by other estimates in the same year of the size of the voluntary sector in the UK. Palmer and Hoe state that there are approximately 23 million people involved in voluntary work in the UK each year. (Palmer and Hoe 1997)

 

In 2001, a study conducted by the John Hopkins University estimated that 6% of the non-agricultural workforce in the UK is involved the non-profit sector. (Hopkins 2001)

 

 

 

 

 

3.2.4.2 Barriers

In contrast to the substantial body of literature that argues for the Fire Service to involve volunteers, the case for not involving them attracts little support in the literature.

There is, however, evidence from the literature that there are two significant barriers to involving volunteers in the Fire Service; resistance from paid staff and their representatives and the quality of the management culture of the service.

 

Davis-Smith cites evidence to support what he refers to as the ‘uneasy alliance’ between volunteers and unions in the UK, which had its genesis in the 1920s when volunteers were used as strike breakers. By the 1980s union suspicion was fuelled by a fear that volunteers in the public sector would reduce the number of paid posts. Since the 1990s Davis-Smith observes that there were “signs of lessening tension”. Several large unions now recruit volunteers into their membership. (Hadley and Davis-Smith 1992:45)

 

Even with this lessening of tension there is still a view at the turn of the 21st century that volunteering tends to undermine certain fundamental principles of industrial law. (Heimgartner 1999)

 

 In 1993, a research study identified management issues as key to the successful involvement of volunteers into any organisation. (Institute for Volunteering Research 1993)  This is confirmed by a similar study in Australia that found that the “’ boys club’ culture” and the “quality of leadership” were both acting as disincentives for people to volunteer for the Fire Service. (Smith 1998:12)

 

Although the government view is that the way in which the Fire Service manages its people is “ Fundamental to all the aspects of (a modern) Fire Service” (O’Brien 2000). There is evidence that there is room for improvement in the way the Fire Service manages people. “The internal management of the (Fire ) service is in sharp contrast to its external image. The reaction and discipline essential to front line operations , which occupy only a small part of the service’s time overall, has scant application to the routine day to day working. Yet it is retained as an element of ‘command’ power across activities that require leadership and management, rather than automatic obedience to orders.” (HMI 1998:20)

 

Research into volunteers in the UK Fire Service reflects the significance of management and culture as a barrier for Fire Service volunteers. In 1996 Coke concluded that the barriers for volunteers to be involved in the work of the Fire Service were threefold (Coke 1996:119):

1                      Volunteers have never been considered as a resource for the Fire Service

2                      The present methods of risk categorisation and emergency response options preclude the use of volunteers

3                      Fire Service traditions act as cultural barriers to change

 

1.3.3                    To examine how the barriers may be overcome.

The Active Community Unit (ACU) confirm that organisational culture is a key issue that enables more people to become actively involved as volunteers.  The ACU argue that there is a need to create “a culture that supports continued commitment” (Active Community Unit 1999)

 

As far back as 1947 Lewin postulated that the status quo in any organisation would be understood as a situation where the drivers for change and the forces resisting change reached a state of equilibrium. Lewin (1947) observed that to achieve change in organisations involved the management of a three phase process:

1                     Unfreezing – reducing those forces resistant to change

2                     Movement – the implementation of change

3                     Refreezing – reinforcing the change through policies structures and support systems.

This approach has been adapted by many since 1947,  (Hofstede 1980, Miles and Snow 1978, Pfeffer 1981, and Schein 1985). In 1993 Johnson and Scholes used the Lewin model of cultural change to argue that the key to unfreezing organisations is an understanding of the needs and expectations of key stakeholders. Johnson and Scholes (1993:175) add that “Understanding and assessing the importance of stakeholder expectations is an important part of the initiating (cultural) change”.

 

Mullins  (1999) builds on Lewin’s notion of resisting forces and observes that change is often resisted by forces that operate at both individual and organisational levels and that “management should adopt a clearly defined strategy for the initiation of change”. (Mullins 1999:831) Others see resistance to change being offered by disillusioned or uniformed stakeholders. (Johnson and Scholes 1993)

 

With  regard to the movement phase of change, again Lewin’s work is complemented by subsequent studies. French, Kast and Rosenzweig (1985) suggest that it can be seen as comprising eight specific components including the need for planning and assessment of the outcomes. Others may argue for different components; for example, the Peters and Waterman (1982)  7-S framework and Mullins’ seven principles of managing change (Mullins 1999:828) but there appears to be consensus that there is a movement phase that must be carefully planned for.

Lewin states that the final phase of effective change is “re-freezing”. Less has been written about this phase of the change process. Although Murdock (1998) like Mullins (1999:829), Peters and Waterman (1982:287), and Johnson and Scholes (1993:413) sees that the sustained implementation of change is fundamentally reliant upon the effective co-operation of staff, management and unions. “Change management means more than changing the chart. It involves people …In good times and bad, the key to success is good communication” (Murdock 1998:66)

 

3.2.4        To develop practical recommendations for the UK Fire Service.

In order to identify sources of material relating to the drafting of guidance, the author applied two additional search terms; ‘writing’ and ‘guidance’.  The results of this search were somewhat disappointing, the literature is full of advice on how to write English (Gowers 1986, Palmer, 1993, Taylor, 1992) Typical of the type of advice offered on writing was that “Good prose should resemble the conversation of a well bred man” (Taylor 1993:109).

 

Although there was little in the literature relating to the structure of a guidance document, there are many examples of good guidance documents.   Examples of taxonomies that offered a suitable framework to guidance to the Fire Service are found a report by The Country Fire Authority in Western Australia. This provided a clear, logical format as did a  good practice guidance for volunteers, published by the Institute for Volunteering Research, (IVR 1998).

 

Additional inspiration for the layout of the guidance was provided by two more substantial publications: Voluntary Matters  by Palmer and Hoe (1997) adopts a business style  framework to describe the strategic issues, whereas McCurly and Lynch (1998) apply a framework and style of writing that is focussed towards providing practical guidance for volunteer managers.

 

The framework for the guidance document developed for the Fire Service was adapted from a combination of the strategic and tactical approaches, whereas the style of writing was selected as being suitable for managers who would have to implement the guidance.

 


 

4        Investigation results

 

This section of the research report contains a description of the results from each of the six distinct research activities:

1.             Survey

2.                    Semi-Structured Interviews

3.                    Case studies

4.                    Observations

5.                    Focus Groups

6.                    Questionnaires


4.1       Survey

The primary propose of the survey was to achieve the first research objective, “To determine the current extent of volunteering in UK brigades.”

 

The survey was conducted by a questionnaire that adapted questions developed by the IVR (1997), for a survey of volunteers in the public services in England. Additional questions were included to provide data to inform the three other research objectives.

 

The questionnaire, shown at appendix 2, was sent to all brigades in the UK the following table 4.1.a. shows the responses received:

Table 4.1.a: UK Brigades that responded to the survey

 

UK Totals

Respondents Totals

 

Number

Number

% of UK Totals

Number of Brigades

58

34

59%

Area in Hecares

24,123,730

15,790,964

65%

Population Covered

59,192,995

47,428,165

80%

Number of employees

62,619

37,454

60%

 

Brigades were asked to provide information relating to the extent of volunteering by brigade personnel, through joint arrangements with existing organisations and finally by members of the public who are directly involved in the work of the brigade.


4.1.1    The Voluntary work of brigade personnel

Brigades were asked to provide information relating to the types of voluntary activities their employees were involved with under the following headings:

·         Voluntary activities carried out on duty, which related directly to Fire Service issues.

·         Voluntary activities carried out on duty, which were not related to the Fire Service.

·         Other voluntary activities, which the brigade supported, staff to be involved with when off duty.

The following tables show a summary of responses for each question.

Table 4.1.b: Voluntary activities carried out on duty, which relate directly to Fire Service issues.

Activity

Numbers of Fire Brigade Personnel Involved

Young Firefighters Association - Fire Cadets

189

Fire Awareness Child Education - FACE

95

Fire safe trust Counseling/ junior fire setters

39

UK Fire Services rescue team

51

Ceremonial

23

Firefighters badge Scouts

18

Crucial crew

6

Other

23

Fitting smoke  alarms

7

Smoke busters

8

total

459

 

Table 4.1.c: Voluntary activities carried out on duty, which were not related directly the Fire Service.

Activity

Numbers of Fire Brigade Personnel Involved

Duke of Edinburgh award scheme

186

Attendance at fetes

100

Visits by scouts guides etc

54

Other visits

32

Road Safety Schemes

20

Mentoring young  people

20

Princes Trust

14

total

426

 


 Table 4.1.d: Voluntary activities, which the brigade supported, staff to be involved with when off duty.

Activity

School Governance

Justice of the Peace

Council Members

Fund raising for charity

Samaritans

Lifeboat crew

Air training corps

British legion

St Johns Ambulance

Beach lifeguard

Casualty union

Parent teachers associations

Work with the disabled

Sheltered workshop trust

Neighborhood Watch

 

 

 

 

4.1.2    Brigade involvement with established voluntary organisations

 

For this question, brigades were asked to provide the names of those established voluntary organisations which they involve in the work of the brigade. Respondents were asked to say which organisations were involved with the operational work of the brigade, and which were involved in the community safety work of the brigade. The following tables list the organisations involved in each of the areas of fire brigade work.

 

Table 4.1.e: Voluntary organisations involved with supporting operational duties

Organisation

Women’s Royal Voluntary Service

Red Cross Ambulance

Red Cross Fire victim support

Basic

St John’s Ambulance

Mountain Rescue Teams

Royal National Lifeboat Institute

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

RAYNET fire ground communications

 

 

 

Table 4.1.f: Voluntary organisations involved with supporting fire safety duties

Organisation

Crime and disorder groups

Fire Protection Association

Neighborhood watch

Age Concern

Royal National Institute for the Blind

Royal National Institute for the Deaf

Salvation Army

Other local community groups

Youth Clubs

Fire Liaison Panel

Home Helps

Tenants associations

Housing associations

Police Crucial crews

Help the Aged

Federation of Women’s Institutes

Social Clubs

The Women’s Institute

Residents associations

ROSPA

North Norfolk Volunteers

Lions Clubs

Rotary Clubs

Round Table Clubs

Age Concern

 

 


4.1.3    Members of the public involved directly by the brigade as volunteers

 

Brigades were asked to provide information about any members of the public who are involved with the work of the brigade on a volunteer basis. Again, respondents were asked to say how many were involved in operational and non-operational work. Summaries of responses are shown in the tables below.

Table 4.1.g: Members of the public involved directly by the brigade as volunteers

 

Question:

 

yes

 

No

(Includes nil responses)

Total

Numbers

Involved

Does your brigade deploy operational volunteer firefighters?

7

27

955

Does your brigade involve volunteers from the public to assist with non-operational Fire Service work?

15

19

134

 

 

Table 4.1.h: Operational work activities performed by volunteer firefighters

Activities:

Number of brigades

All first line emergency duties with no immediate back up

2

All first line emergency duties with immediate back up

4

Limited emergency duties with immediate back up

4

Limited emergency duties with no backup

2

Operational support roles (control, catering etc)

1

Other

1

 

 


Table 4.1.i: Non-operational work activities performed by volunteers involved directly from the public

Activities:

Number of brigades

Fireground catering

11

After the fire support for victims

9

Providing Community fire safety advice, in person

7

Providing Community fire safety advice, by phone

1

Fitting smoke detectors

5

Community fire safety education in schools/clubs etc.

3

Assisting as Young firefighter Instructors

1

Support at Community Events

1

Station Administration

1

 

 


4.1.4    Managing the involvement of volunteers recruited directly from the public

 

Brigades were asked to provide information about how they manage the involvement of volunteers from the public.  There  were three questions relating to the management of volunteers from the public:

1.  Who manages the involvement of volunteers recruited from the public?

2.       What types of support does your brigade offer to volunteers?

3.       What other management actions are taken when involving volunteers?

Summaries of responses are shown in the tables below.

Table 4.1.j: Who manages volunteers

Who manages the involvement of volunteers recruited from the public?

Number of brigades

A member of staff primarily employed by the fire authority/brigade to manage volunteers

1

Other member of staff whose responsibilities includes managing volunteers

14

Volunteer manager employed by a voluntary organisation

 

2

 

Table 4.1.k: What support is given to volunteers

What types of support does your brigade offer to volunteers?

Number of brigades

Training

16

Regular Supervision and assessment

13

Social events

8

Payment of expenses

13

Provision of uniform

14

Provision of proof of Identification

10

 


Table 4.1.l: Other management actions for volunteers

What other management actions do you take when involving volunteers in service delivery?

Number of brigades

 

Written policy and rocedures

4

Provide a brief regarding their roles and responsibilities

2

Safety brief

6

Risk assessment

1

Instruction

17

Training

17

Mentoring

3

Supervision during training and at operational incidents

6

Screening for Child Protection Act requirements

7

Supervision and support

3

Health and safety considerations

4

Paging facility

1

Security vetting

1

 

 


4.1.5    Perceived advantages of involving volunteers from the public

 

Brigades were asked to list the advantages that they saw from involving volunteers directly from the public in the work of the brigade. The following table contains the responses from brigades.

Table 4.1.m: Perceived advantages of involving volunteers

What do you see as the advantages of involving volunteers directly from the public in Fire Service work?

Close/r involvement by and with the community

Relations enhancement

Stakeholder involvement

Efficient Resource deployment

Provision of service by the community

Low cost

Dedicated and committed workforce

Helps to bind the community together

Promotes community fire safety

Stimulating understanding of each others needs

Cost effective  fire safety

Volunteers learn the fire safety message through self education

Promotes a good image of the Fire Service in the community

Gives the community direct contact with service personnel

Brings in a wide diversity of views and experience

Provides a better understanding of the Fire Service role within the community

Provides the service with a means of establishing further partnerships in the community

Reduction in Arson fires

Reduction in False alarms

Table 4.1.m: continued

What do you see as the advantages of involving volunteers directly from the public in Fire Service work?

Reduction in fire deaths and injuries

Expansion of Fire Service work

Involve members of the public who cannot join full time

Involvement of retired wholetime members

Relieve firefighters of non operational tasks

Achieves tasks that paid staff have not got the time to do

Reaching a wider audience in the community

 

 


4.1.5    Future plans

 

Finally,  brigades were asked to say what new schemes they were planning for the future involvement of volunteers and how they could involve volunteers in the future if funding was made available. The following tables summarise the responses from brigades.

Table 4.1.n: Plans for new volunteer schemes

What, if any, new schemes is your brigade planning for the future?

 

Fire Cadet Scheme

Using existing voluntary organisations to help with home safety

Youth training program with British Red Cross

A very young firefighters scheme (primary school age)

Training volunteers to assist in community fire safety

Training Retired Firefighter to do Fire Cadets

Community safety wardens

Working with young offenders

 

Table 4.1.o: Aspirations for volunteer schemes

Are there any voluntary activities that you would like your brigade to become involved in if funding were to be made available?

Fire Cadet Scheme

Firefighter Scheme

Community Fire Safety

Fitting Smoke Alarms

Testing electrical appliances

Sprinkler trials

Mentoring schemes

Development schemes for offenders

Youth training schemes

Victim support

Community Fire Safety

Retained Station Administration

 

 



4.2       Semi-structured interviews

 

A total of eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted in the UK. The purpose of the interviews was to ascertain what the principal stakeholders (Johnson and Scholes 1993:175) of the service considered to be the drivers for and barriers against increasing the numbers of volunteers in the UK Fire Service.

Jeff Breedon

National Officer of the Fire Services Youth Training Association

Gareth Broughton

HM Acting Principal Inspector of Health and Safety in the Fire Unit of HSE

Rab Coke

Author of previous BCC research work into volunteers.

Mick Donald

Volunteer Manager, DO, North Command Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Ian Evans

Head of National Community Fire Safety Centre

Mike Fordham

Assistant General Secretary Fire Brigades Union

Mike Larkin

 

Higher Executive Officer working in the Fire Policy in the Community Fire Safety Team

Graham Meldrum

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire Services

Brian Murray

Firemaster with Highland and Islands Fire Brigade

Tony Ritchie

Chair of the Local Government Association Fire Executive

Dr Justin Davis Smith

 

Director, Institute for Volunteering Research

 

 

The interviews were taped and transcribed. This resulted in a total of 20,500 words. Full transcripts of the interviews are shown in Appendix 7.

 

The author’s tutor proposed that the grounded theory approach described by Pidgeon and Henwood (1996) would offer an appropriate tool for the analysis of the transcripts.

As a result each paragraph of the transcript was reviewed to identify recognisable concepts, these concepts were reviewed and refined as the process continued.

During this iterative process, common categories of concepts emerged, for example where one interviewee may use the phrase ‘without any financial recompense’ another may say ‘don’t get any money’ the author adopted the emerging category of ‘unpaid’.

 

Pidgeon and Henwood (1996) describe the expression of these refined concepts as ‘researcher categories’.  The researcher categories were then tabulated to enable comparison of the responses to each question from all the stakeholders.

 

 

The tables in this section 4.2.1 below summarise the researcher categories that emerged from this process.
4.2.1    Summary of semi-structure interview results

 

Table 4.2.a: Stakeholder experience of volunteers

 

What experience have you had with volunteers in the Fire Service?

 

Name

Researcher category - Experience

Jeff Breedon, National Officer of the Fire Services Youth Training Association

National Officer over 8 years

Gareth Broughton HM Acting Principal Inspector of Health and Safety in the Fire Unit of HSE

Very little exposure

Rab Coke

Assistant Firemaster Presently Commander Central Command in

Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Operationally in Teeside Fire Brigade and Strathclyde, fire brigade, I studied volunteer firefighters within Denmark, Berlin and Untied States. 

Mick Donald

Volunteer Manager,  Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Nearly two years

Ian Evans

Head of National Community Fire Safety Centre

As yet very little.

Mike Fordham

Assistant General Secretary Fire Brigade Union

To be honest at the moment, none.

Mike Larkin

Higher Executive Officer working in the Fire Policy Community Fire Safety Team

None

Graham Meldrum

 Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire Services

Well fairly extensive, West Midlands Band, After the Fire Service and the Fire Services Youth Training Association

 

Brian Murray

Firemaster with Highland and Islands Fire Brigade

About 18 months with auxiliary firefighters

 

Tony Ritchie

Chair of the Local Government Association Fire Executive

None

Dr Justin Davis Smith

Director Institute for Volunteering Research

None.

 


Table 4.2.b: Stakeholder perceptions of the definition of ‘volunteer’

How do you define the term volunteer?

 

Name

Researcher category - Definition

Jeff Breedon, National Officer of the Fire Services Youth Training Association

Unpaid

Gareth Broughton HM Acting Principal Inspector of Health and Safety in the Fire Unit of HSE

Unpaid

Rab Coke

Assistant Firemaster Presently Commander Central Command in

Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Difficult to define

Unpaid

Mick Donald

DO Operations Strathclyde

Freely given time and effort

Ian Evans

Head of National Community Fire Safety Centre

Unpaid

Acting for the good of the Community

Mike Fordham

Assistant General Secretary Fire Brigade Union

I think the definition would vary

Unpaid

Freely given time and effort

Acting for the good of the community

Mike Larkin

Higher Executive Officer working in the Fire Policy in the Community Fire Safety Team

Unpaid

Freely given time and effort

Graham Meldrum

 Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire Services

Unpaid

Freely given time and effort

Brian Murray

Firemaster with Highland and Islands Fire Brigade

Difficult to define

Contested views

Unpaid

Acting for the good of the community

Tony Ritchie

Chair of the Local Government Association Fire Executive

Unpaid

Freely given time and effort

Dr Justin Davis Smith

Director Institute for Volunteering Research

Unpaid

Freely given time and effort

For the good of the community

Contested views

 




Table 4.2.c: Stakeholder perceptions of how volunteers differ from retained

 

How do volunteers differ from retained?

 

Name

Researcher category - difference

Jeff Breedon, National Officer of the Fire Services Youth Training Association

Payment

Get more out of volunteers

Gareth Broughton HM Acting Principal Inspector of Health and Safety in the Fire Unit of HSE

Payment

Rab Coke

Assistant Firemaster Presently Commander Central Command in

Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Little difference

Mick Donald

Volunteer Manager,  Strathclyde

Payment

Commitment

Ian Evans

Head of National Community Fire Safety Centre

Payment

Mike Fordham

Assistant General Secretary Fire Brigade Union

Payment

Less management control over volunteers

Mike Larkin

Higher Executive Officer working in the Fire Policy in the Community Fire Safety Team

Payment

Graham Meldrum

 Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire Services

Retained still perceived as a ‘Job’ /

Volunteers freely given time and effort –“it appears to me they don't have problems getting volunteers in the areas where we would have problems getting retained firefighters.”

Less onerous for the individual

 

Brian Murray

Firemaster with Highland and Islands Fire Brigade

Very little difference

Tony Ritchie

Chair of the Local Government Association Fire Executive

Payment

 

Dr Justin Davis Smith

Director Institute for Volunteering Research

Volunteers provide ‘added value’

Reflect ethnicity, gender and age

 

 

 

 

Table 4.2.d: Stakeholder perceptions of the case for volunteers

 

What is the case for the Fire Service to involve more volunteers from the Community to conduct its work?

 

Name

Researcher category - drivers

Jeff Breedon, National Officer of the Fire Services Youth Training Association

Harnessing the volunteers’ enthusiasm and commitment

Gareth Broughton HSE

None

Rab Coke

Assistant Firemaster Presently Commander Central Command in

Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Adding value to the service by linking community (both internal and external volunteers)

Paid firefighters could broaden their role in society as credible role models.

Mick Donald

Volunteer Manager,  Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Adding value to the service by linking community

Paid firefighters could broaden their role in society as credible role models.

Ian Evans

Head of National Community Fire Safety Centre

Adding value to the service  by linking community

 

Mike Fordham

Assistant General Secretary Fire Brigade Union

Social cohesion by linking community

Paid firefighters could broaden their role in society as credible role models.

Mike Larkin

Higher Executive Officer working in the Fire Policy Community Fire Safety Team

Social cohesion by linking community

Graham Meldrum

 Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire Services

Finite social resources for public services

Adding value to the professional job

Harnessing the volunteers’ enthusiasm and commitment

Paid firefighters could broaden their role in society as credible role models.

Brian Murray

Firemaster with Highland and Islands Fire Brigade

Finite social resources for public services

Volunteers add value to the professions

Social cohesion by linking community

Harnessing the volunteers’ enthusiasm and commitment

Tony Ritchie

Chair of the Local Government Association Fire Executive

None

Dr Justin Davis Smith

Director Institute for Volunteering Research

Finite social resources for public services

Volunteers add value to the professions

Social cohesion by linking community

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 4.2.e: Stakeholder perceptions of the barriers to volunteers

 

What do you see as the barriers for the Fire Service to involve greater numbers of volunteers across the whole range of their duties?

 

Name

Researcher category - Barriers

Jeff Breedon, National Officer of the Fire Services Youth Training Association

Inability of the service to supervise and motivate people who are not tied to the rank structure or pay.

Gareth Broughton HM Acting Principal Inspector of Health and Safety in the Fire Unit of HSE

A lack of understanding about the role/contribution that volunteers can make.

 

Rab Coke

Assistant Firemaster Presently Commander Central Command in

Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Traditional Fire Service culture resistance to change

Resistance from national politicians

Mick Donald

Volunteer Manager,  Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Fear of job losses

Traditional Fire Service culture resistance to change

Ian Evans

Head of National Community Fire Safety Centre

Professional fear it will dilute their professional status.

Mike Fordham

Assistant General Secretary Fire Brigade Union

Resistance from the unions over job losses

Health and Safety of volunteers

Mike Larkin

Higher Executive Officer working in the Fire Policy in the Community Fire Safety Team

Industrial relations problems

Traditional Fire Service culture resistance to change

Graham Meldrum

 Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire Services

Industrial relations problems

Brian Murray

Firemaster with Highland and Islands Fire Brigade

Volunteers seen as not professional, dial a peasant, misunderstanding what volunteers can do

Professional fear it will dilute their professional status.

Tony Ritchie

Chair of the Local Government Association Fire Executive

Potential industrial relation difficulties by diluting status and threatening jobs

Dr Justin Davis Smith

Director Institute for Volunteering Research

A lack of understanding about the contribution that volunteers can make.

Professional fear it will dilute their professional status.

Lack of resources to manage volunteers properly

 

 

 

Table 4.2.f  Stakeholder perceptions of the work volunteers could do

 

What type of Fire Service work do you think volunteers from the public could be employed to do?

 

Name

Researcher category – Type of work

Jeff Breedon, National Officer of the Fire Services Youth Training Association

Community Fire Safety

Assisting Young Firefighters schemes

Gareth Broughton HM Acting Principal Inspector of Health and Safety in the Fire Unit of HSE

Community Fire Safety

Fire safety publicity

Station admin work

Rab Coke

Assistant Firemaster Presently Commander Central Command in

Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Community Safety

Mick Donald

Volunteer Manager,  Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Fitting smoke detectors

Giving fire safety advice

Ian Evans

Head of National Community Fire Safety

 Giving community fire safety advice

 

Mike Fordham

Assistant General Secretary Fire Brigade Union

After the fire.

Safety Centers

Community safety

Mentoring schemes

Fitting of smoke detectors

Mike Larkin

Higher Executive Officer working in the Fire Policy Community Fire Safety Team

After the fire support to victims

Community fire safety work

Educating the public

Graham Meldrum

 Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire Services

 

 

 

Community fire safety initiatives

Community safety initiatives

Liasing with local schools

After the fire support to victims

Supporting Fire Service events such as open days

Helping out at fire stations

Maintenance on fire stations

Raising money for community fire safety

Young Firefighter's Association,

Brian Murray

Firemaster with Highland and Islands Fire Brigade

Community fire safety initiatives

Community safety initiatives

Liasing with local schools

Helping out at fire stations

Maintenance on fire stations

Tony Ritchie

Chair of the Local Government Association Fire Executive

All and any work of the Fire Service  provided everyone agrees.

Dr Justin Davis Smith

Director Institute for Volunteering Research

All and any work of the Fire Service  -

Must be a (negotiated) clear line between what volunteers do and what paid staff do

 

Table 4.2.g: Stakeholder perceptions of the Potential management issues

 

What do you think the potential management issues are when employing volunteers to carry out non- emergency Fire Service work?

 

Name

Researcher category - management issues

Jeff Breedon, National Officer of the Fire Services Youth Training Association

Training of volunteer supervisors

High quality management needed

Gareth Broughton HM Acting Principal Inspector of Health and Safety in the Fire Unit of HSE

Integration with paid staff

Control their role

Specifying that and agreeing some form of contract

Rab Coke

Assistant Firemaster Presently Commander Central Command in

Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Insurance, Litigation, Holidays, Training, Protective gear

 

Mick Donald

Volunteer Manager,  Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Overcoming the resistance of people in the organisation to this change

Ian Evans

Head of National Community Fire Safety Centre

Controlling their actions

Recruiting the right people

 

Mike Fordham

Assistant General Secretary Fire Brigade Union

Overcoming the resistance of people in the organisation to this change

Controlling their actions,

Reflecting badly on the brigade

Mike Larkin

Higher Executive Officer working in the Fire Policy Community Fire Safety Team

Lack of control over what they are doing

Graham Meldrum

 Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire Services

Channel their enthusiasm

Control their actions

Recruited to a high standard

Trained to the right standard,

Ensuring the safety of the public particularly children

Agree role

Brian Murray

Firemaster with Highland and Islands Fire Brigade

Health and safety training

Cost of supervision volunteers aren’t free

Control over what they do and say when they are representing the service and how it will reflect on the brigade.

Tony Ritchie

Chair of the Local Government Association Fire Executive

Training

Volunteers are less reliable

Control their actions

Dr Justin Davis Smith

Director Institute for Volunteering Research

Integration with paid staff

Control their actions

High quality management needed because volunteers have no ties.

 

 

Table 4.2.h:  Other thoughts of stakeholders

 

Do you have any other thoughts regarding the increased use of volunteer in the Fire Service?

 

Name

Researcher category – additional issues

Jeff Breedon, National Officer of the Fire Services Youth Training Association

Don’t give uniforms

Gareth Broughton HM Acting Principal Inspector of Health and Safety in the Fire Unit of HSE

No

Rab Coke

Assistant Firemaster Presently Commander Central Command in

Strathclyde Fire Brigade

No

Mick Donald

Volunteer Manager,  Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Don’t give uniforms

Ian Evans

Head of National Community Fire Safety Centre

No

Mike Fordham

Assistant General Secretary Fire Brigade Union

No

Mike Larkin

Higher Executive Officer working in the Fire Policy in the Community Fire Safety Team

An area for expansion

 

People are wanting to play a more active role in their community

Graham Meldrum

 Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire Services

No

Brian Murray

Firemaster with Highland and Islands Fire Brigade

No

Tony Ritchie

Chair of the Local Government Association Fire Executive

Don’t give uniforms

Dr Justin Davis Smith

Director Institute for Volunteering Research

An area for expansion

It’s on the Governments agenda

People are wanting to play a more active role in their community

 





4.2.2    Stakeholder mapping analysis of drivers and barriers

 

Johnson and Scholes argue that it is critically important that the likely reaction of stakeholders towards future strategies in given full consideration. They postulate that the views of stakeholders can be considered effectively by mapping them in a matrix consisting of two bipolar scales of ‘power’ and ‘interest’ (Johnson and Scholes 1993:177). Each stakeholder can then be ‘mapped’ into the matrix depending upon their level of interest in the proposed strategy and the amount of power they have to impact upon the implementation of the strategy.

 

Stakeholders can then be ranked according to sector of the matrix in which they appear. Johnson and Scholes assign labels to the positions in the matrix as shown in figure 4.2.a

 

Figure 4.2.a: Johnson and Scholes stakeholder map

 

Level of interest

 

 

 

 

 

High

 

Power

 

Low

High

Low

 

 

Key Players

 

 

 

 

Keep informed

 

 

Keep satisfied

 

 

 

 

Minimal effort

    

 

 

Key to the increasing the number of volunteers in the UK fire service is the key players’ perceptions of the drivers and the barriers. The Johnson and Scholes model was therefore applied to the responses from stakeholders shown in section 4.2.1 above.

 

This was done in two stages, firstly the stakeholders were assigned to the various sectors within the matrix, then the researcher categorisations of their responses were entered into that same sector.

 

Figure 4.2.b: Stakeholder map for fire service volunteers

 

Level of interest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High

 

 

 

 

 

Power

 

 

 

 

Low

High

Low

 

Key Players:

 

HM Fire services Inspectorate

 

Chief and Assistant Fire Officers Association

 

Fire Brigades’ Union

 

Local Government Association

 

Home Office

 

Keep informed:

 

Health and safety Executive

 

Institute for Volunteering Research

 

Keep satisfied:

 

The National Fire Safety Centre

 

Volunteer Managers

 

 

 

 

Minimal effort:

 

None Interviewed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following two figures present the researcher category responses from each of the stakeholders within the Johnson and Scholes matrix.

 

 

 


Figure 4.2.c: Stakeholder map of drivers for volunteers in the UK Fire Service

 

 

                                                         Level of interest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High

High

 

Low

 

KEY PLAYERS:

 

 

Adding value to the professional job

 

Adding value to the service by linking with the community

 

Paid firefighters could broaden their role in society as credible role models.

 

Finite social resources for public services

 

Volunteers add value to the professions

 

Social cohesion by linking community

 

Harnessing the volunteers’ enthusiasm and commitment

 

 

KEEP IMFORMED:

 

 

Finite social resources for public services

 

Volunteers add value to the professions

 

Social cohesion by linking community

 

 

 

Low

 

KEEP SATISFIED:

 

Social cohesion by linking community

 

Adding value to the service  by linking community

 

Harnessing the volunteers’ enthusiasm and commitment

 

 

 

 

 

 

MINIMAL EFFORT:

 

 

 

 

Figure 4.2.d: Stakeholder map of barriers to volunteers in the UK Fire Service

 

 

                                                                Level of interest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High

High

 

Low

 

KEY PLAYERS:

 

Traditional Fire Service culture resistance to change

 

Resistance from national politicians

 

Health and Safety of volunteers

 

Volunteers seen as not professional, misunderstanding what volunteers can do

 

Potential industrial relation difficulties by diluting status and threatening jobs

 

 

KEEP IMFORMED:

 

A lack of understanding about the role/contribution that volunteers can make.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Low

 

KEEP SATISFIED:

 

Inability of the service to supervise and motivate people who are not tied to the rank structure or pay.

 

Fear of job losses

Traditional Fire Service culture resistance to change

Industrial relations problems

 

Traditional Fire Service culture resistance to change

 

Professional fear it will dilute their professional status.

 

 

 

 

MINIMAL EFFORT:

 

A lack of understanding about the contribution that volunteers can make.

 

Professional fear it will dilute their professional status.

 

Lack of resources to manage volunteers properly

 



4.3       Case studies

 

The purpose of conducting case studies was to identify sources of qualitative data relating to the types of duties that volunteers were doing and how they were being managed by various organisations. In order to get as comprehensive a picture as possible within the time and financial resource limits of the study project, Fire Services in both the UK and Australia were considered as well as other non-fire service, public sector organisations within the UK.

 

Data from the case studies was collected in two phases; firstly, the selected cases were reviewed using passive surveillance, internet and published material. This review was used to identify sources of evidence from which to collect more detailed data. Secondly, in order to obtained a deeper understanding of the duties and management of volunteers in a variety of comparable settings, the author selectively applied the following data collection tools:

·         Observation

·         Questionnaire

·         Focus Group

 

The following paragraphs provide contextual information relating to each case, together with an overview of their experience with volunteers.

 

4.3.1    Merseyside Fire Brigade

 

Merseyside Fire Brigade serves a population of 1.4 million from 27 fire stations with 1, 700 paid staff.

In 2000, the brigade established a Friends of the Fire Service Scheme throughout the Brigade. The scheme involves volunteers from the public in the work of the Brigade, in particular, community fire stations.


4.3.2    Cheshire fire Brigade

Cheshire Fire Brigade serves a population of I million from 28 fire stations with 856 paid staff.

The brigade have established a volunteer group entitled “Smoke Busters”. This group provides fire safety education through music dance and drama to schools throughout Cheshire.

4.3.3        Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Strathclyde Fire Brigade serves a population of 2.3 million from 113 fire stations with 3,200 paid staff. The Brigade provides fire cover for the metropolitan area of Strathclyde and large tracts of remote rural areas in the West of Scotland.

The Brigade has the second highest number of ‘volunteer’ firefighters in the UK. Of the 113 fire stations 31 are crewed by a total of 257 ‘volunteer’ firefighters.

4.3.4    Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade

Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade serves a population of 300,000 from 127 fire stations with 512 paid staff. The Brigade provides fire cover for the remote rural areas in the North-east of Scotland.

The Brigade has the highest number of ‘volunteer’ firefighters in the UK. Of the 127 fire stations, 98 are crewed by a total of 889 ‘volunteer’ firefighters.

4.3.5    The West Midlands Fire Service

The West Midlands serves a population of 2.6 million from 41 fire stations with 2, 400 paid staff.

Since 1992, retired memebrs of the fire serice have been working as volunteers to provide an “Atfer the Fire” service to the victims of fire throughout the West Midlands. The role of the volunteers is to give support to the victims of fire by liaison with local services, insurance companies and other bodies.

4.3.6    Fire Services Youth Training Association

Established in 1995, the Association is a charitable trust which employs two full time paid officials. The Aim of the Association is to contribute to the development of young people by encouraging them to adopt the positive culture of the Fire Service. The Association facilitates 31 youth training groups in a number of brigades throughout the UK, providing training for some 4,500 young people in fire related matters. Training is provided by 500 volunteers, predominately from among the paid staff of the Fire Service

4.3.7        British Red Cross

The British Red Cross Society is a charity that provides medical first aid services through volunteers. The Society provides a ‘Fire Victim Support’ service in partnership with a number of brigades throughout the UK. The service meets the needs of people who have suffered damage to their home from fire, flood or other disaster. The service complements the Fire Service and will respond to emergency incidents within 90 minutes.

4.3.8        Pinderfields and Pontefract General Hospital

Pinderfields and Pontefract General Hospital provides a primary and secondary health care in North Yorkshire. It is a National Health Service Trust that involves 800 volunteers in supporting services for patients. The government has offered it as a “shining example” (Blair 2000) of how volunteers can be involved in public sector services.

4.3.9    Thames Valley Police

The Thames Valley Police Service provides a police force for the combined counties of Royal Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. In 2000, the force began an initiative to involve civilian volunteers in the work of police stations. By February 2001, the force and recruited the first full time volunteer coordinator in the British police.

 

 

4.3.9        The Safety Centre, Milton Keynes

The safety Centre at Milton Keynes is a charitable trusts that was established in 1995 in a joint venture between Thames Valley Police, Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue services and a number of other statutory bodies, local utility companies and the private sector. The Centre houses a number of safety related scenarios in a large industrial unit in Milton Keynes. Groups of school children are guided through the scenarios and provided with safety advice and guidance by a cadre of 80 volunteers.

4.3.10 The Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia (FESA)

FESA provides fire and emergency services for the whole of the state of Western Australia. Formed in 1997 from five separate emergency service organisations, FESA serves a population of 4 million from over 1,000 stations throughout the state. The services are provided over an area of 2.5 million square kilometres by 1,100 paid staff and 24,000 volunteers.

4.3.11  Country Fire Authority (CFA)

The CFA provides Fire Services for the state of Victoria, Australia, with the exception of the metropolitan area of Melbourne. The CFA serves a population of 2 million from over 1,000 stations throughout the state. The services are provided by 420 paid staff and 80,000 volunteers from 1,300 locations throughout the state. The Authority continues to conduct major research into volunteers, the latest of which was published in 1998 (Reinhold and Smith 1998)

4.3.12  Selected data collection from case studies        

Following a review of the case studies, the author selected those cases that were considered to be reliable sources of relevant data. In order to achieve triangulation, and to provide the author with a broader experience, three data collection tools were selected. Table 4.3.a. shows the spread of tools applied for each case study.

Table 4.3.a: Application of research tools during case studies

Case Study

Observation

Focus groups

Questionnaire

 

In the UK:

 

 

 

Merseyside Fire Brigade

Ö

 

Ö

Cheshire Fire Brigade

 

 

Ö

Strathclyde Fire Brigade

Ö

 

Ö

Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade

Ö

 

Ö

West Midlands Fire Brigade

Ö

Ö

Ö

Fire Services Youth Training Association

 

 

Ö

Red Cross Victim Support

 

 

 

Pinderfields and Pontefract General Hospital

Ö

 

Ö

Thames Valley Police

Ö

 

 

The Safety Centre, Milton Keynes

Ö

 

 

In Australia:

 

 

 

The Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia (FESA)

Ö

ÖÖÖ

ÖÖÖ

Country Fire Authority

Ö

 

 

 

4.3.13    Data from observation

Data from the observations took many forms. An exploration of the organisations providing the case studies allowed the author to build a deeper understanding of the subject matter. In most cases the observation resulted in the identification of, and access to, sources of secondary and tertiary literature.  Relevant data from the observations, including quotations from interviews and reference to literature, are referred to throughout this report.


4.4       Focus groups

The purpose of the focus groups was to enable the author to gain a deeper understanding of the issues relating to volunteers in the Fire Service.

Data from the focus groups informed the third and fourth  Objectives of the research project:

Third Objective: To examine how the barriers may be overcome.

Fourth Objective:   To develop practical recommendations for the UK Fire Service.

 

The focus groups activities were conducted to a set structure, which was reviewed and refined during each group. Due to the time constraints of the research project and in particular the overseas element, the rapid approach to focus groups, suggested by Kruger and Casey (2000) was adopted.

 

Commonly the groups were between 8 and 15 people and, in order to reduce observer bias, the author facilitated the groups by providing some standard background to the research project and then asking the group to consider the following tightly focussed questions:

·        How they become involved as volunteers?

 

·        Why did they become and stay involved?

 

·         Is the experience of being a volunteer meeting their expectations?

 

·         What are the problems / solutions?

 

·         Any other comments?

 

 

Additional focus groups were held with volunteers from FESA and the West Midlands to explore a specific issue that had been raised during the other focus groups.

 


A total of five focus groups were conducted at the following locations:

Table 4.4.a: Summary of focus group locations

Group

Location

1

‘Volunteer’ Fire-fighters in UK

Lockoilhead Fire Station, Scotland

2

State emergency Services volunteers

Munjarah, Western Australia

3

Fire Service volunteers

Roleystone, Western Australia

4

FESA volunteer training managers

Perth Training School, Western Australia

5

“After the Fire” Service volunteers

West Midlands Fire Service

 

Comments were recorded contemporaneously on a white board and confirmed with the group at the end of each session. The resultant lists of responses from the focus groups are shown Appendix 9.

 

Once the comments from the focus groups were consolidated using grounded theory, the author adapted the long table approach for further comparative analysis. The long table approach, described by Kruger and Casey (200:132) allows the identification of themes, by cutting and pasting the responses from the focus groups into a consolidated table. This enables patterns to the responses and highlights any novel responses.

 

The results from Focus groups 1 to 3 are comparable because the same questions were used. Focus groups 4 and 5 were used to explore specific issues that had been identified during the case study visits.

 

The following tables contain the results from the long table analysis of the first three focus groups.

 

Table 4.4.b: Long Table Analysis of focus group outcomes (continued on next page)

 

Question:

Lockoilhead Fire Station, Strathclyde

Manjurha, Western Australia SES

Roleystone, Western Australia Fire Service

How did you become involved?

 

Everyone knows about the fire station and what they do

 

Personal approaches made by individuals or existing volunteers

 

Knew Friends who were in it

 

 

Attended displays and open days

 

 

Was asked to.

 

 

Joined as cadets

 

 

Knew Friends who were in it

 

 

Attended recruitment events

 

 

Just offered to help

 

 

 

 

Knew relatives who were in it

 

 

Why did you become involved?

 

 

 

 

There is a need for it If we didn’t do it wouldn’t get done

 

Wanted to help the community

 

Wanted to ‘put something back’

 

 

The apparent excitement of the work and ‘buzz’ of the team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just something to do

 

 

Because of local emergency incidents

 

 

Wanted to help people in trouble

 

To give something back to the community

 

 

Team environment

 

 

Self improvement:

Knowledge

Self esteem

Confidence

Leadership abilities

 

 

Had spare time

 

 

Had something to offer

 

 

There is a need

 

 

 

To be involved in the community

 

 

 

 

 

Camaraderie and friendship/ Social life

 

Get skills qualification

 

Good training

 

Involvement looks good on the CV

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the work

 

 

 

 

Table 4.4.b: Long Table Analysis of focus group outcomes (continued)

 

Question:

Lockoilhead Fire Station, Strathclyde

Manjurha, Western Australia SES

Roleystone, Western Australia Fire Service

Is the Experience meeting your expectations?

 

 

Training was much better than imaged

 

 

Much the same or better than expected

Much more professional

 

Better at putting out fires

 

Just keeps getting better

What are the problems?

After initial training it is difficult to be motivated to do station based training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We need a bigger turn out area

 

Found the first fatality difficult to deal with

Need more training

 

Becoming burnt out / getting bored

 

Lack of funding

 

Life priorities (SES can take over)

 

Lack off Information Technology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lack of funding

 

Family time (brigade takes over)

 

Lack of recognition

 

Politics

 

Any other comments?

 

 

Very active in Community fire safety, it’s easy for us we know the people and we live locally.

 

They Fund raised £20K last year for the benevolent fund

 

They arrange the village Christmas tree

 

They work with home help on community fire safety

 

They keep a high profile

Motivation – as soon as you give volunteers money – you take all this from them!!

No other comments

 

 


4.5       Questionnaires

 

The purpose of the questionnaire was twofold; firstly to collect data relating to the views of volunteers in the UK Fire Service and secondly to compare the views of volunteers in the UK Fire Service to volunteers in the Fire Service in Australia and volunteers from the UK voluntary sector.

 

Results from the questionnaires were compared to the results of the UK national volunteering survey, which was conducted by the Institute for Volunteering (1997).

 

Questions were sent to ten different volunteer groups that had been selected by the literature review and survey of brigades.

 

The table below shows the groups and the numbers of questionnaires sent and received. In Australia, questionnaires were given to volunteer groups immediately before focus groups were conducted. This resulted in the high return rates for Australian groups of volunteers.

Table 4.5.a: Response rates for questionnaire to volunteers

Group number

Respondent Group

Questionnaires sent

(n)

Questionnaires returned

(n)

Percentage returned

(%)

1

Fire Services Youth Training Association

20

20

100

2

Friends of the Fire Service

20

7

35

3

Red Cross – victim support

20

6

30

4

Volunteer’ firefighters – Scotland

40

14

35

5

Volunteer firefighters – Australia

10

10

100

6

National Health Service volunteers

20

16

80

7

After the Fire Service

20

7

35

8

Smoke Busters

20

9

45

9

Bush Fire Brigade – Australia

15

15

100

10

State Emergency Service – Australia

13

13

100

 

totals

198

117

66

The responses from the questionnaire were entered onto an MS Excel™ spreadsheet and consolidated into the following groups for analysis.

Table 4.5.b: Consolidated groups for questionnaire analysis

Group 1 – Fire Service employees in the UK

 

Respondent group

Number of responses

Volunteer’ firefighters – Scotland

14

Fire Service Youth Training Association

20

total respondents (n)

34

 

 

 

Group 2 – Fire Service Volunteers in Australia

 

Respondent group

Number of responses

Volunteer firefighters – Australia

10

Bush Fire Brigade – Australia

15

State Emergency Service – Australia

13

total respondents (n)

38

 

 

 

Group 3 – Volunteers from the public in the UK Fire Services

 

Respondent group

Number of responses

Friends of the Fire Service

7

After the Fire Service

7

Smoke Busters

9

total respondents (n)

23

 

 

 

Group 4 – Volunteers from other UK organisations

 

Respondent group

Number of responses

National Health Service volunteers

16

Red Cross – victim support

6

total respondents (n)

22

 

 

The results from the questionnaires were compared to the results from the national survey of volunteers in the UK voluntary sector, which was conducted by the Institute for Volunteering Research in 1997. Summary tables of the responses are shown in Appendix 10.

 

 

The data from the questionnaires was then entered into Statistica. With the assistance of the author’s tutor, tests were run which confirmed both the integrity of the data and it’s reliability.

 

The data was when tested to identify significant differences between the four groups:

1                      Fire Service personnel in the UK

2                      Fire Service personnel in Australia

3                      Volunteers from the public involved in UK Fire Services

4                      Volunteers from other voluntary groups in the UK.

 

The Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) which test revealed that apart from four specific areas, there were no statistically significant differences between the form the individuals from all the groups.

 

The four areas where significant differences were found, were in the responses to the questions relating to:

·        The experience of volunteers against their expectations

·        What volunteers find important about their voluntary work

·        How important it is that volunteers efforts are recognised

·        The ages and genders of volunteers from different groups

 

The following tables summarise the responses for each group of volunteers, in each of these statistically significant areas.

Table 4.5.c: The experience of volunteers against their expectations

How does your experience of the voluntary work compare to the expectations you had before?

Note: Average scores from Likert 0-5 scale

Fire Service employees in UK

 

average

Fire

Service volunteers

in Australia

average

Volunteers from public in Fire Service

average

Volunteers from other UK Organisations

 

average

UK National Survey

 

 

average

The work itself

 

4.29

4.39

3.65

4.09

not reported

Training

 

3.91

4.50

3.19

4.06

not reported

Supervision and support

 

3.85

4.46

3.57

3.89

not reported

Working conditions

 

3.53

4.28

3.68

3.71

not reported

Recognition of effort

 

3.59

3.94

3.59

3.89

not reported

Relationships with paid staff

 

4.27

4.15

4.18

3.81

not reported

 

Table 4.5.d: What volunteers find important about their voluntary work

How important are these reasons for you to do voluntary work?

 

Note: Average scores from Likert 0-5 scale

Fire Service employees in UK

 

average

Fire

Service volunteers

in Australia

average

Volunteers from public in Fire Service

average

Volunteers from other UK Organisations

 

average

UK National Survey

 

 

average

I meet people and make friends through it

3.94

4.03

3.96

4.14

4.31

It’s the satisfaction of seeing the results

4.76

4.11

4.65

4.18

4.63

It gives me the chance to do things I’m good at

4.00

3.89

4.27

3.27

4.06

It makes me feel less selfish

 

2.76

3.61

3.57

3.73

3.84

I really enjoy it

 

4.76

4.68

4.65

4.45

4.65

It’s part of my religious beliefs

 

2.71

2.68

2.70

3.64

4.02

It broadens my experience

 

4.09

3.97

4.09

3.73

4.26

It gives me a sense of personal achievement

4.38

4.31

4.26

3.95

4.78

It Gives me the chance to learn new skills

4.29

4.18

3.74

2.77

3.71

It gives me a position in the community

3.00

3.55

3.17

3.14

3.23

It gets me out of myself

 

3.29

3.34

3.17

3.41

3.88

It gives me the chance to get a recognised qualification

2.74

3.61

2.39

1.50

2.48

Table 4.5.e: How important it is that volunteers efforts are recognised

How Important is recognition to you?

 

Note: Average scores from Likert 0-5 scale

Fire Service employees in UK

 

average

Fire

Service volunteers

in Australia

average

Volunteers from public in Fire Service

average

Volunteers from other UK Organisations

average

UK National Survey

 

 

average

How important is it that you receive recognition form the people you help?

3.56

4.14

3.70

3.14

3.13

How important is it that you receive recognition form the organisation you do voluntary work for?

3.50

4.03

3.83

3.09

3.30

 

Table 4.5.f: The ages and genders of volunteers from different groups

The age and gender differences between the groups of volunteers

Fire Service employees in UK

 

 

Fire Service volunteers in Australia

 

 

Volunteers from public in Fire Service

 

Volunteers from other UK Organisations

 

 

UK National Survey

Age –              Years

39

42

43

56

not reported

Male -             %

 

89%

77%

61%

18%

50%

Female -         %

 

11%

23%

39%

82%

50%

Ethnic origin – White

 

100%

100%

100%

100%

not reported

 

Statistica was then used to calculate the probability of these results occurring by chance. It is generally accepted (Robson 1993:351) that there are three levels of statistical significance, which correspond to the numerical value of probability. Probability values greater than .05 are considered not to be significant, probabilities between .005 and .001 are considered to be significant whereas values less than .001 are said to be highly significant.

 

The following tables show the specific aspects in each of the four question areas that were identified as being statistically significant, together with the probability rate and assumed level of significance.

Table 4.5.g: The significant aspects of volunteer’s experience

How does your experience of the voluntary work compare with the expectations you had before you started?

Probability of the variance between the groups occurring by chance

Level of significance

The training provided

.000973

Highly significant

The working conditions

.000214

Highly significant

The supervision and support from the organisation

.000525

Highly significant

 

 

Table 4.5.h: The significant aspects of what volunteers feel about their work

People do voluntary work for all kinds of reasons, how important are these things to you?

Probability of the variance between the groups occurring by chance

Level of significance

It makes me feel less selfish as a person

 

.000131

Highly significant

It’s part of my religious beliefs or philosophy of life to help

 

.000589

Highly significant

It gives me the chance to learn new skills

 

.027294

Significant

It gives me a position in the community

.002732

Highly significant

It gives me the chance to get a recognised qualification

 

.000000

Highly significant

 


Table 4.5.i:  The significant aspects of how volunteers feel about recognition

How important is it that you receive recognition for the voluntary work that you do?

Probability of the variance between the groups occurring by chance

Level of significance

From the organisation you do the work for

 

.003098

Highly significant

From the people you help

 

.008859

Highly significant

 

 

Table 4.5.j: The significant aspects of age and gender difference between groups

The age and gender differences between the groups of volunteers

Probability of the variance between the groups occurring by chance

Level of significance

Age

 

.000007

Highly significant

Gender

 

.000001

Highly significant

 

These significant differences were explored more closely using Microsoft™ Excel spreadsheets and charts. The following bar charts show, in detail, how the responses from each group of volunteers vary.



Figure 4.5.a: How experience of training varies between groups

 

 


Figure 4.5.b: How the experience of supervision and support varies between groups