LGA Innovation submission


Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority (BMKFA) are delivering innovative Workforce reform since embarking on a Service wide integrated continuous improvement and transformation programme in 2010. The Authority has a programme of innovative, cultural reform to support delivery of the 2015 to 2020 Corporate and Public Safety plans. This programme has been developed and continually reviewed in order to deliver the Authority’s strategic aim to ‘optimise the contribution and well-being of our people’ and to ensure that our workforce reform priorities are aligned with those set out in the Home Secretary’s speech on Fire Reform, delivered on 24 May 2016.

How innovative it has been:

The Authority’s approach to continuous improvement and transformation is a progressive one which truly positions the communities that we serve at the heart of the Service. We have encouraged an innovative and empowering approach, within sound business rules and principles to ensure we continue to deliver the highest standards of service.

Key to BMKFA’s success has been the efforts and contribution from its employees. Our approach is innovative for two reasons: we shaped our People Strategy around the specific needs of the staff and Service; and we learned from the three guiding principles of the Fire Service (Prevention, Protection and Response) in order to create a risk and demand based strategy.

Decisions about the People Strategy were based on assessments of upcoming risks to the workforce. These two factors have led to the wide-ranging approach that BMKFRS now uses.

The difference it has made:

The level of sustainable workforce reform delivered by BMKFA between 2010 and 2017 has been remarkable considering the starting point, level of external change, national machinery and lengthy pensions related dispute.

A key measure of cultural reform within BMKFA is that since 2013 much of the workforce reform programme has been initiated and /or led by first line management and staff through creating frameworks to pilot new ideas, enabling a culture of accountability, transparency and sharing learning. This is a key shift from the more traditional approach of ‘top down’ initiated change.

Achievements to date have been delivered by a smaller, more flexible, professional workforce who take great pride in their contribution to saving lives. It is flexible enough to adapt to delivering the required proactive innovation and agile responses to changes in the operating environment, needs of the public and strategic context. The People Strategy also captures the essence of the Authority’s values, what we stand for, and, encompasses why people are proud and motivated to work here. Alongside the vision and values, the People Strategy could be positioned as the ‘organisational glue’ which holds the Service together, particularly during periods of transformation.

Tangible results include:

  • All senior management and roles now outside national terms and conditions
  • Pilot project which employs new firefighters on new contracts of employment.
  • Revised local pay structure for support services staff
  • Reduced numbers but enhanced terms for new staff
  • Implemented new ways of working through pilot schemes
  • Recruitment strategy includes wide use of apprenticeships
  • Saved more lives than ever before due to Co-Responding.
  • Reduced staff numbers by 22% in 5 years

How it is addressing challenges and difficult issues:

There have been a number of reasons that have been identified as internal and external drivers for change:

  • Improve professionalism and standards
  • Diversifying services including wider health agenda.
  • Need to engage staff and employee representatives.
  • Ageing workforce/A need to refresh the workforce with younger people
  • Less staff so need to build in flexible arrangements
  • A need for resilience, including in times of strike.

Outcomes and benefits sought from the People Strategy and Workforce Reform include:

  • Fit for purpose, flexible terms and conditions supported by new contract of employment.
  • A culture of customer service, high performance, accountability, high employee engagement and advocacy.
  • Organisational ‘identity’ that holds the organisation together when pressures for disintegration are predicted to increase.
  • A modern approach to employee relations.
  • Retention tools to deliver aspects of our talent management strategy.
  • Potential to reduce recruitment costs, short term absence costs, reduction in case management activities.

The following sections outline the core elements of the interactive People Strategy, and showcases two specific examples on Apprentices and e-learning that are supporting our progressive people agenda all of which are relevant to other public sector employers/councils.

Our working examples

People Strategy

An interactive experience designed to give an in-depth understanding of how BFRS is continually looking to move its workforce forward, alongside the Service’s visions, aims and priorities

  • Interactive strategy – employees share their activities and accomplishments
  • Web-based – accessible to anyone, including our partners
  • All employees can contribute – all departments are encouraged to augment

Engages employees to showcase what they are doing that is helping to achieve the Service’s priorities.

Strategy framework

Our interactive People Strategy is broken down into four key areas. Detail within each area gives up to date examples of how we are all progressing. Click the “Read More” buttons to explore the People Strategy.

Employee Relations




Talent Management





One example of our innovative approach to resourcing includes taking on apprentices in roles across the Service – we have taken on 4 support-staff and 22 firefighter apprentices.

Our firefighter apprentices were trained using a blended approach, utilising in-house resources the firefighter development programme at the Fire Service College.

We aim to enrich the apprenticeship programmes and provide a unique development period for our apprentices compared to a more traditional probation.

eLearning award

BFRS walked away from the Learningpool Live Awards 2016 with two awards:

Most Innovative eLearning

This award was open to projects that demonstrate a great approach to content creation, the use of technology or creating a fresh approach to blended learning to address an important business need.

Learningpool Superstar

This Award was to recognise a member who delivers outstanding goodwill about Learning Pool, stays at the forefront of Organisational Development and is not shy on sharing their ideas with their peers.

How are we performing?

The success of our People Strategy is measured by a variety of key performance indicators, including each of these core areas.

Click each icon to see the data

Click each icon to see the data

Sickness data


Value for money


Appraisal statistics


Recruitment data


Career progression


Turnover statistics


Safety statistics


Click each icon to see the data

Station activity

Employees now have a link between their everyday activities and the Strategic plans of the Service.

Examples of innovative ideas and schemes can be shared across the Service.

View our station activity

Talent wall

It is only right that employees who perform well are recognised for doing so.

The People Strategy

This submission was placed on our People Strategy to highlight the availability of our innovative ideas to the public, and to our workforce. Please feel free to explore this website.

  • The concept of an interactive strategy can be used by other councils and organisations.
  • Ideas promoted on a web-based strategy can inspire others
  • Partner organisations, local councils and groups can see what we are doing and inspire collaborative approach
View our people strategy

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