Falck - Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service Staff Exchange Programme

Chief Fire Officers Henrik B. Hansen (Falck, Denmark) and Alan Taylor (Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service) exchange the unique and innovative partnership agreement

The European Commission (EC)1 has created the Leonardo Da Vinci Programme2 that provides funds for the exchange of European citizens between member states, for personal development.

In February 2006 the Danish private provider of fire and rescue services - Falck, in collaboration with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service (SF&RS), submitted a joint application to facilitate the exchange of 12 members of staff from each organisation during 2006/07. The principal aim of the application was to establish a unique international partnership that facilitates the transfer of staff for one-week secondments to undertake research into a variety of subject areas focused upon improvements in non-formal and informal learning.

In April 2006 notification was received from the EC confirming the success of the joint application. The British Council, responsible on behalf of the EC for the administration of the programme within the UK, commented that the strength of the application lay in its unique and innovative partnership between private and public sector agencies engaged in public safety.

Falck, established in 1906, is a private company that undertakes fire and rescue services on behalf of 171 of Denmark's 271 municipalities, serving 50% of country's population. Falck is the largest private provider of fire and rescue services in Europe and is also the largest provider of ambulance services, with operations in six European states. As with SF&RS, Falck's primary role is to save life, protect property and render humanitarian services.

Commencing in August 2006, two members of SF&RS staff will undertake on a monthly basis one week placements with Falck.

Staff participating within the programme will stay at Copenhagen, Denmark and will visit a variety of Falck sites in the surrounding area relevant to their respective areas of research. Visiting staff maintain a learning journal of their experiences in addition to delivering a presentation of their key findings to their respective Danish hosts at the conclusion of each placement. Upon return to the UK, staff will be required to produce and present a detailed report documenting their findings and offer recommendations for improvements in service provision within SF&RS (where applicable). Additionally, the experience will form a key element of each individual's personal development plan.

During the same period, 12 members of Falck will visit SF&RS. These visits will be of particular value and will undoubtedly provide an opportunity for SF&RS to receive constructive feedback on local arrangements for securing public safety, compared to those deployed by Falck.

All examples of good practice identified through the exchange process will shared with other fire and rescue services through the various public safety publications/journals.

To formally acknowledge the commencement of this distinctive partnership Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service received a visit from Falck's Chief Fire Officer, Henrik Hansen, on Friday 23rd June.

During the visit Chief Fire Officers Hansen and Alan Taylor signed a Partnership Agreement forging what will undoubtedly be an exciting joint venture for both organisations.

26th June, 2006