PROs at the two-day meeting will attend a session entitled ‘Reputation Recovery’, during which fallout from the pay dispute will be discussed. The seminar will also see officers appointed and a constitution agreed for the new association.
Honorary president of FirePRO and Essex chief fire officer David Turner said: ‘The reputation of the fire brigade has taken a bit of a knock during the dispute with cover being withdrawn and adverse news stories. We will be talking about how we put that right.’
Turner said that internal as well as external issues needed to be addressed. ‘There has been a bit of a breakdown of trust between employers, management and Fire Brigades Union members – this needs to be worked out. There needs to be a reassertion that management only wants the best for staff, for example,’ he said.
FirePRO is being set up to improve co-ordination between the people from various disciplines who are responsible for PR at the 58 brigades across the country – some are uniformed fire-fighters, while others are civilians exclusively focused on PR.
Turner said: ‘Currently PROs work independently, so a newspaper ringing two different brigades with the same question could get completely different answers.
‘What we want to ensure is that our PR staff are talking to each other and singing from the same song sheet.’
The new organisation also hopes to improve the profile of the service with the co-ordinated release of ‘good news’ stories.
‘We have been too modest in the past, we need to tell the public what we do,’ Turner said.
The meeting takes place on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 June in Birmingham.