The Asian Fire Service Association (AFSA) is an independent staff network and represents 40 fire and rescue services in the UK.
AFSA is now 11 years old and continues to support fire and rescue services in terms of how they approach diversity and inclusion and the change that they are experiencing. The association has over the years taken three broad approaches:
- Type 1: Friendly nudge: This approach aims to direct, prod or nudge the fire and rescue service. Familiar tools here include undertaking research, highlighting legislation, regulation and good practice.
- Type 2: Proactive support: This method focuses on enabling organisations more directly to make the changes needed. This has been achieved through offering advice, sharing tools and resources, networking and regional and national events.
- Type 3: People-focused: This tactic includes both prods and proactive support, targeting FRS staff rather than organisations, as well as actions to inspire, engage and involve staff. Approaches include using policy mechanisms such as education and training, professional regulation and standards to help develop capacity.
The vision of the association is to be an exceptional membership-led organisation for all fire and rescue services and partners, while our long-term mission is to provide exceptional services to our members through clear leadership and by delivering support that enables our members to effectively maintain equality, diversity and inclusion and reduce inequalities that staff and communities experience.
The work of the volunteer staff operating at all levels of the association is governed by a set of values comprising of:
- Service to the community – and our united purpose – to improve the quality of service
- Our people – we look to harness the collective strength of FRS staff
- Diverse communities – we are prepared to stand up and be counted; we continually seek to develop new and better ways of working with and for diverse communities.
Over the years the association has developed a unique way of working centred on being:
We are a member organisation. To be effective, we need to be excellent at identifying our members’ needs and meeting them. It also means we must be fully accountable and transparent to our members in all that we do.
Adopting behavioural insights
We will apply behavioural insights to inform policy, improve fire and rescue services, and deliver positive results for people and communities. This may involve a friendly nudge, proactive support or taking a people-focused approach.
We work in a complex and highly interdependent system with many influential players. We rely on our members to generate the evidence we need, and we can only deliver our objectives by working collaboratively. We therefore need to be a highly effective strategic partner.
If AFSA is to meet the challenges it faces, it needs to innovate and transform, creating radically different patterns of healthcare delivery. Our members are in a unique position to help drive this change. We need to support and enable this innovation and, if required, help lead it.
Equality, diversity and inclusion
Striving to achieve equality, diversity and inclusion must be a central tenet of our work. This is both a moral imperative and a business need.
We aspire to a high degree of professionalism and rigour in all that we do. Our work must be evidence based and underpinned by robust data. We will recruit, retain and develop the right level of professional skill, experience and expertise.
Finally, the association has recently adopted the following key strategic objectives:
To shape the environment in which our members operate – with a specific focus on national fire strategy and reform, support national resilience and fire programmes, fire safety, equality, diversity, inclusion, workforce, community, quality, governance, regulation, devolution, transformation, integration and system working.
To be the collective voice of the fire service championing their interests in the media, government, the fire service and wider.
To help our members drive improvement and innovation through effective, shared development, support and learning.
To add to the membership base, generate diverse income, value for money for members, a supportive environment for staff to volunteer their services to AFSA which will in turn support their development and their employers.
For more information, go to www.afsa.co.uk