Supporting the merger of multiple organisations

Fire and Emergency New Zealand had only just been created, but they needed all personnel to clearly understand command and control roles when attending an incident.

Expectations of who would be in charge at an incident could vary substantially based on culture, hierarchy and experiences in previous organisations. For the safety of people and property it is imperative everyone is clear when they are on the spot.

Bringing 40 organisations and 14,000 individuals together is complex. The first phase of the Fire and Emergency transition project did just that on 1 July 2017; bringing urban, rural and volunteer firefighters together into a single organisation, under a new Act, with a broadened mandate. But there is still much more to be done.

The Sysdoc team at Fire and Emergency were working hard to develop policies and procedures for the new organisation to reflect the changes. This included developing a new command and control policy to reflect the substantial change in thinking and approach. Once the policy was agreed, Fire and Emergency needed to clearly convey the messages to firefighters on the front line in a way they could understand and implement without hesitation in high-pressure situations. Fire and Emergency approached Sysdoc to create a solution.

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Sysdoc developed an eLearning module to be viewed and discussed in local teams at fire stations. The module includes scripted videos of the most senior rural and urban operational leaders explaining the intent of the policy, supported by whiteboard animations with voiceover stepping through the detail of how the policy works, and discussion questions for the teams to work through together. It was important for everyone to see senior leaders giving clear and strong support to the new policy and ways of working, and to ensure all the details were portrayed accurately (down to the smallest details in the animations showing the correct coloured helmets and the trouser cuffs untucked).

The module was released to operational staff in March 2018, and distributed through the Fire and Emergency Learning Management System, or on USB sticks (in places where internet connections are still a bit dodgy). The module is building an understanding of command and control expectations, whilst also supporting the desired new culture amongst staff.