The National Integrated Personal Development System (IPDS) is a framework designed to facilitate the learning, development and assessment of firefighters, supporting new demands being placed on the Fire and Rescue Services across Britain. The framework was introduced in 2003 as part of the new pay agreement for Fire and Rescue Service operational employees.
Traditionally, the Fire and Rescue Service was seen essentially as a reactive service whose role was to respond to emergency incidents - today's more modern Fire and Rescue Service puts equal emphasis on fire safety, prevention and risk reduction and the need to ensure the competence of all employees in order that they work effectively and safely. The IPDS framework supports this.
The IPDS framework is intended to provide role-related learning and development and supports, where required, individual structured learning and development.
Changing from rank to role
One of the most important changes brought in through the IPDS framework was the change from 'rank' to 'role'.
Previously, members of the FRS occupied one of 13 formal operational 'ranks'. Promotion was achieved through entering at the lowest rank and moving up, with some roles open only to those who had served a certain amount of time.
The introduction of the IPDS framework has replaced the 13 ranks with seven key 'roles'. These 'roles' are intended to reflect the work that individuals actually do in the FRS. 'Roles' place the focus on what individuals do and achieve at work, rather than on the rank they hold.
The seven roles are:
- Crew Manager
- Watch Manager
- Station Manager
- Group Manager
- Area Manager
- Brigade Manager
A 'role map' has been produced for each of these roles, detailing the skills and knowledge associated with it.
This new role related approach provides transparency and identifies to role-holders and their managers what is expected of them and their colleagues.
Reducing risk – to firefighters and the public
Overall, the most important benefit of the IPDS framework is that it provides an opportunity to reduce the risks faced by the public and by firefighters themselves.
'Role maps' clearly show what members of the FRS need in order to cope with the tasks they face at work. Development programmes allow each member of the FRS to receive the specific training and development they require in order to carry out those tasks.