FirePRO members consider move to fee-based system following PRCA proposal

FirePRO, the organisation for fire and rescue services comms people, is considering a proposal from the PRCA to handle its administration and offer its members more training opportunities.

FirePRO members will give feedback on whether to move to a fee-based system
FirePRO members will give feedback on whether to move to a fee-based system

PRWeek understands that the PRCA has made a written proposal which, if adopted, would lead the trade association to take over the administration of FirePRO's events, annual conference and member benefits, including training and career development.

Fee-based system

However, the PRCA proposal is potentially contentious because it would require FirePro to move from its current status – as an organisation which is free to join – to a paid-for membership model. 

Currently, any person who has a comms role in a fire and rescue service automatically becomes a member of FirePRO.

LGComms already operates on a fee basis, with councils paying an annual fee to become members.

Paul Compton, head of comms and engagement at Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, became the chair of FirePRO last autumn.

He told PRWeek that since taking on the role at the organisation, he had been considering ways of how best to support the membership and provide opportunities to improve skills, standards and career development across the sector.

He said: "To go with the PRCA’s proposal would be a radical change because people would have to pay to be members of FirePRO and get all of those membership benefits."

Compton said he was broadly supportive of the proposal and the access it would give members to the PRCA’s ongoing training programme, but he had concerns about moving to a fee-based system because of members’ potential inability to pay.

He added: "It’s not going to help our sector as a whole if we put off a whole section of them from being able to access [membership opportunities]. We’ve always got to find that balance, in terms of… an offer that helps them to achieve our aims while also making it something that is accessible to all."

Survey of members

FirePRO is to launch a sector-wide survey of its members, which will canvass their attitudes on a wide range of issues, from their mental health and wellbeing to what training and development priorities they have.

It will also ask for their opinion on moving to a fee-based system and what they would be prepared to pay for membership, in return for better training opportunities. 

Once the survey has been completed, FirePRO’s executive committee will gauge how much support exists for a fee-based system and then consider the PRCA’s proposals further.

Compton said: "The question is whether people would be prepared to pay for membership… how [a partnership with the PRCA] is administered behind the scenes would be for the executive committee to decide."

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