Operational Skills Maintenance
After a number of meetings and extensive discussions, the Union and the Fire Service have reached agreement over O.S.M.
On the basis of a significant number of changes being made that address Union concerns, the Union Committee has withdrawn its instruction to members to not participate in O.S.M. The particular changes agreed include:
- A common sense practical application of O.S.M. principles rather than the previous punitive approach.
- Removal of the red light – off the appliance approach.
- Removal of the requirement for officers to initiate the managing poor performance policy.
- No loss of an allowance if unable to maintain any specialist skill, e.g. Grade 1 Driver.
- O.S.M. skill refresher training takes precedence over all other business as usual activities.
- Firefighters returning from an absence of 6 months will now only have to achieve green lights in a few critical safety skills, not the whole package
- Removal of the complete section on managing protracted red lights.
- There is now a section in the policy that explicitly provides that fire ground activities can be used to sign off O.S.M skills.
- Removal of the ability of local management to allow riding short/reduced minimum crewing when refreshing firefighters are returning from extended absence.
The above agreement does not mean that the present O.S.M. policy is set in stone. and like anything new, it can be expected that experience will tell us that further changes/modifications will be necessary.
Consequently, the agreement also provides that a full review of the operation of O.S.M. will take place within 12 months. To assist that review, and to allow members to directly contribute to that review, a formal feedback system has been established.
The Union Committee accepts that a formal system to allow firefighters to prove/demonstrate that skills are up to date is necessary today for that firefighter’s own protection.
The Committee believes the changes agreed to mean the O.SM. policy is much improved and once bedded in should cause very few problems. However, through feedback mechanisms agreed and the review within 12 months, there are now mechanisms to address any problems if they do arise.
As part of the TAPs agreed procedures, a full review of all aspects of TAPs operation is currently underway with full Union involvement.
An important part of this review is the receipt of feedback/comments from TAPs participants. Consequently the Union urges a full and prompt response to the questionnaire that has been distributed.