AF&RS develops new environmental e-learning module for all staff

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS), along with London Fire Brigade and Ditto Sustainability, has developed a new e-learning module on the environmental impacts of fire and rescue services (FRS).

In line with the Service’s Climate Change Declaration & Environmental Policy, AF&RS found that a basic understanding of environmental issues and legislation at fire service premises would be beneficial for all staff.  

This will ensure that all operational and support staff can help the Service to comply with relevant legislation and embed best practice in the day to day management of our stations.

Although this module, entitled ‘Fire & Rescue: Environment Matters’, is not designed to provide operational guidance, many of the underlying imperatives and principles of environmental protection are the same.

Following consultation with other FRS, it was clear that there was a desire to develop a similar e-learning package.

This module development presented a further opportunity for collaboration and a demonstration of leadership across the sector. The module has been endorsed by the National Fire Chief Council (NFCC) and Fire Brigade Union (FBU), and was developed with support from the Environment Agency.

Having worked on the module for over a year, the course aims to:

  • Address the key environmental issues and legislation relevant to FRS sites
  • Highlight topical issues such as air quality, single-use plastics and mental well-being, and how fire services can play their part in addressing these
  • Raise awareness and good practice in reducing pollution, managing and recycling waste, conserving water use and being more energy efficient
  • Demonstrate collaboration with other FRSs through co-development & co-branding of the e-learning

Annabel Harford, Environmental Project Officer for AF&RS, said: “As a Service, we have a legal duty to prevent pollution and protect the environment, and this happens not only on the incident ground, but at all stations and wherever staff may work.

“E-learning modules like the one we have created go a long way in delivering a strong understanding of relevant environmental issues and how we can best protect the environment.”

Throughout the module, staff will learn about the key environmental issues for different aspects and areas of the fire station, and how we can best address these, from using the right drains for vehicle washing, best practice for hazardous waste, use of depolluted scrap cars for training and energy efficiency measures.

Green Champion Co-ordinator at London Fire Brigade, Watch Manager Simon Jakeman, said: “Most people don’t associate firefighters with green initiatives, but actually, as this new learning tool shows, there is plenty fire crews can do to learn best practice for protecting the environment in the fire station and being aware about how to reduce pollution, conserve water and being more energy efficient in their day-to-day job.

“Hopefully, by being more aware we can inspire others to do their bit too.

“There are dozens of advantages to taking a ‘green’ approach but for starters, it can benefit local wildlife, help improve air quality and reduce flood risk.

“That’s a good thing for the communities we serve. Protecting the environment today is something our children will thank us for.”

Nick Garrod, Director of Learning & Creative, of Ditto Sustainability, added: “As an organisation, our mission is to empower present and future generations with the knowledge to improve the environments in which we work.

“Learning (knowledge) is a key component of our activity at Ditto Sustainability; it changes behaviour, improves personal and business performance, and drives success across our customer base.

“We have been delighted to work with both AF&RS and LFB in developing this interactive eLearning module;  which we hope other authorities will adopt. It really is a great way to engage staff and provide awareness in sustainability linked to the fire service.