The Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service were announced as the winner of the Driving Efficiency Through Technology award at the LGC Awards ceremony in London on Wednesday 11th March. Shortlisted entries included The Improvement Service, Islington LBC, Lancashire County Council and Southwark LBC.
The Service’s Incident Command Training Suite (ICTS) met all the criteria for this new award. Opened in 2010, the suite has been hailed as one of the best training facilities of its kind in the UK. It was designed to enable Cheshire to provide all its incident commanders with the opportunity to develop and practice the full range of decision-making skills they require in the most realistic training environment possible, saving the Service thousands of pounds in training costs.
The judges commented: “This project has the potential for use across the country. It has shown significant savings and the judges were particularly impressed with the tangible benefits and the fantastic, passionate team”.
The Driving Efficiency Through Technology award is one of the LGC (Local Government Chronicle) Awards, which have seen a record number of entries for 2015. The award category was created because technology has the potential to bring about a better use of both financial and practical resources to create a more efficient organisation.
Area Manager Gus O’Rourke, who is head of Operational Policy and Assurance, acknowledges that while there would always be a need for practical skills training in using equipment to fight fires and rescue people from vehicles, the use of virtual reality facilities is also a vital element now and in the future.
“We are delighted and proud to be the first ever winners of the Driving Efficiency Through Technology award. Cheshire is now far safer than it used to be with major reductions in the number of fires and incidents we attend. That means far less practical opportunities for staff to develop their practical and decision-making skills, so our suite is essential in providing a completely safe environment for people to become competent in managing a whole range of emergency incidents,” he said.
“For our facility to be acknowledged in this way is fantastic as it highlights the excellent work done by our staff who work so hard to create and update scenarios and software for the benefit of not only our operational firefighters but also for external users. It also recognises the vision of Cheshire Fire Authority and the Chief Fire Officer who have fully supported this initiative from its inception.”
Local Government Chronicle editor Nick Golding said: “It is vital that we celebrate the best of local government, not least as the talent and innovation of council officers and councillors is often not recognised to the extent it should be.
“The recipients of the awards are the people doing the most to improve services at a time resources are constrained. We should thank them for their great work”.
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