Thousands saved through new promotion process

Progression through the ranks (l to r): From Assistant Chief Fire Officer Simon Hardiman to Watch Manager Glynn Hesbrook, Development Crew Manager Ryan Talbot, Competent Firefighter Rob Everson, Competent Firefighter James Brathwaite and Development Firefighter Hazel McConnell and Competent Crew Manager Steve Perks.


Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has taken advantage of technological advancements and revolutionised its promotion process, saving £34,000.

Supported by VCA Ltd - an emergency services recruitment specialist – SFRS is one of only a handful of services across the UK to move its career progression gateway (CPG) process online and implement the latest guidelines, set out in the National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC) leadership framework.

The new method helps to identify future managers, assesses leadership qualities through five different stages of management from firefighter to area manager and has also created clear progression paths for all operational roles.

The process has now moved entirely online and allowed assessments to continue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures as part of the COVID-19 pandemic, provided a timely opportunity to review recruitment and promotion.

Development officer and project leader, Donna Trowsdale said: “We are delighted with the new assessment programme and importantly our candidates going through the process are comfortable too.

“It’s completely transparent and supports our commitment to the development and progression of staff and ensuring a fair and consistent approach to promotion.”

Previously, eight assessors, four external actors plus three human resource’s staff were required for the two-day process which assessed candidates’ potential for promotion against a set of personal qualities and attributes.

The new process assesses a range of behaviours including being a positive role model, valuing diversity and inclusion, having integrity, the ability to lead high performing teams and an ability to develop others. It also assesses a candidates’ potential to engage with communities effectively and identify specific fire risks within them.

Assessors are occupational psychologists promoting fairness and the ‘remote’ and independent method of assessment decreases any potential for bias. Reporting is generated automatically, providing the Service with efficient scoring available online.

Candidates also receive a personalised feedback report identifying their strengths and areas for development against a national framework and an action plan for areas to develop in the future. This is complimented by an optional feedback session over the telephone with the assessor.

Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton said: “We strive to provide clear promotion opportunities for firefighters and this new method is a really easy way to identify and also develop the best qualities in our people.

“The national standards and external assessors ultimately mean an unquestionably fair and transparent process against benchmarked skills and clearly demonstrates our commitment to equal and fair progression for all our employees, ultimately making the Service as efficient as it can be at making Shropshire safer.

“The savings are impressive, based on the same number of candidates attending over the next five years as in 2020, we are set to save around £170,000.

“Due to the agile nature of our Service and its ability to respond quickly, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t impact on our ability to fulfil roles within the Service and our findings will be shared with our partners at Hereford & Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service when they are ready to take the step.”

Read more about it in the case study here.

14th September, 2020