Performance assessments have always been used as a rationale to gauge the profitability of an organisation. This included use of strategic plans and other set objectives as a measure of achievement. The qualitative and quantitative aspects of the products and services offered by an organisation were not of any significance as long as they could meet the demands of the consumers. ISO is the current tool of measuring the performance of a company since it is all inclusive and focuses on all the aspects of an organisation at the same time focusing on the treatment of the company’s employees.
The purpose of this study is to check and validate the quality of the services and the wholesome performance of one of the fire brigade companies. Various strategies of Quality Assurance (QA) in this field such as the legal stipulations have been outlined and used as score-cards to find out on the quality performance of the company. It is true that every field has their own rules and therefore the rules of the jungle must be followed to the latter. The study therefore focuses on all the areas of the Fire Brigade Company and reports on the proper training regimes, rating and performance, regular feedback as well as all the relevant statistical analysis. This ensues from appropriate methods of statistics and legally approved interpretations of the data available in order to make conclusions that appertains to QA (Maidment 59).
Quality assurance (QA) is defined as a systematic procedure of monitoring and evaluating the various facets of a service, project, or a facility with the intention of optimizing the probability of adherence to the minimum standards used to measure quality and their achievement at the process of service execution. Despite the fact that QA does not guarantee quality products, it helps in regulating assemblies, raw materials, products and components, production related services, inspection, production processes and management. For our case QA has two main dimensions; the services offered should fit to intended objectives and the elimination of errors. The determinants of quality are the recipients of the services through their satisfaction.
Cleveland Fire Brigade is the organization under focus in this study. This is a legal fire and rescue service whose area of jurisdiction includes; Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough, Redcar, Cleveland and Hartlepool. The brigade derived its name from Cleveland County which saw its abolishment in 1996.
The company has fifteen fire stations, nine of which operate full time; day and night, while the remaining six are those which have the firefighters on duty residing close to the establishment and can be called to duty within five minutes upon the raising of an alarm.
Cleveland Fire Brigade has an explicit Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP). This strategy is being amended if need be to gather for the increasing demands and better service provision. The recent amendment is the inclusion of the public input in the IRMP. This ensures that the information and comments of the resident of Cleveland will be of great significance to the company. It is evident that the company has been on an upward trend in terms of serving the resident with the help of IRMP for the last three years.
This is evident from the view of the individuals that the brigade has been offering effective and impactful services. The government has intervened and subsidized on the cost of fire services which the brigade has adopted and therefore the clients get services at 25% less than the initial costs. The four year plan also includes the factors put in place to ensure that the company meets the financial challenges without compromising on the quality fire rescue service provision. It is also worth to note that the company does not adopt a new strategy before gathering feedback from all the stakeholders and the surrounding community.
The management and the leadership of the Brigade are committed to the safety of their society and place it as the core of their activities, consequently they endeavor to satisfy the rigorous standards of response to meet the needs of the employees and meet the policy requirements. Cleveland has the record of continuously reducing the number of deaths and injuries reported over time owing to the protection, prevention and emergency response services. The company is committed to upholding the same standards though the methodology of offering the services might change (Cleveland 1). The strategy in the IRMP proposes the decentralization of the services to the district level within of the areas of jurisdiction so as to take the services closer to the people. This will help in integrating the company with their partners at the district level as well as adopting smarter and efficient methods and as a result help in evading financial obstacles.
Effective performance measurement is founded on a planning system which is effective and gives specifications and standards of performance for risk control and management arrangements and therefore forming a rationale for the process of measurement. The tools used to gather information include; Direct observation: this is where the conditions of the Brigade or the peoples behaviour is observed directly Interviews: this involves use of structured or open ended questions both oral and written to gather information from the employees and the clients. Secondary data: this involves the use of available information such as reports, records and documents to access adherence to quality.
The following steps are key in the measurement of quality keeping in mind the fact that whole the stakeholders must be included in the process. The stakeholders in this case include: the premises of Cleveland, the plant and the equipment used, the procedures used in the company and the people who are involved in all the operations. The procedures therefore include:
This is the first step where all the company’s processes are outlined. In this case the main processes include; management arrangements, work place precautions and risk control systems
The identified processes are analyzed to find out if they are properly designed as per the set standards. A flow chart at this level is very significant to facilitate understanding. It is also important to involve the individuals concerned in the process so that the processes are clearly understood.
Identification of critical measures in each process
This involves the analysis of the outcomes of the identified processes. They include, time limits, the nature of the output, the manner in which it is achieved and the fact that individuals are carrying out their duties as expected. The measures should be acceptable and meaningful, simple, objective, defined, timely, cost effective and promote good behaviour (HSE 357).
The minimum required standards of the above measures are set in order to act as the threshold measure for compliance to the standards.
This is the setting of the objectives of each of the measures and should be done in conjunction with the people who implement it so that it cannot be imposed on them since they are familiar with the systems.
This is the level where the role of collection of data from the respective area is assigned to the available audit members or the team carrying out the measurement.
At this point it is important to lay emphasis on the success but at the same time the reasons for failures should not be overlooked. This is because the substantial performance ought to be maintained and failures to be reduced.
The measurement data ascertained is now used to design the best practices which can be adopted to avert the situation when and where it is applicable.
The measures that have been derived from the studies needs review time to time to ensure that they remain relevant due to the changes in the industrial set up, however this changes should not be frequent as they might lead to confusion.
This is done so as to improve the current measurement procedures so as to better the quality of the information derived. It is important to use team approach at this level and include the managers, safety representatives, supervisors and employees (Turner 96).
This was an act of parliament in the UK which replaced the act of 1947 and applies to Wales and England only. The act clarifies the roles of rescue and fire authorities as; fire safety promotion, fire fighting, Protection of property and people from fires, Road traffic accidents rescue and other emergencies like terrorist attack or flooding (Owen and Maidment 6).
Figure 1: Quality Assurance mark of the British Standard The fire protection products with the related services are required to be in line with their intended purpose. Moreover they should adhere to the proper installation and maintenance provisions as stated by the British standards or the instructions from the manufacturer. The fullest form of assurance of quality is achieved through the use of third party certification concerning the services and products offered particularly those that concern fire protection. This boosts the reliability and safety standards of the company; however this does not mean that products and services which lack the third party approval are less reliable but probably this is a sure way of quality demonstration. Third party quality guarantees comfort to the clients that the goods and services they have purchased are fitting to the purpose and compliant to the laws of the land. The level of assurance should always be maintained across the levels of the company.
It is the responsibility of the company to ensure that the subcontractors and their partners are also subjected to the same tests and therefore they are to the expected standards and competence so that the services offered are unanimously standard throughout all the stages and processes.
The quality assessment of the Cleveland Fire Brigade can be better understood by focusing on the following areas;
The company puts the security of the people within their area of jurisdiction as a priority. This is evident when the company seeks the opinion of the consumers of their services before implementing any new policy or new procedure.
The organization of leadership is very strategic and fits the standards set by the QA. Each of the sections is headed by competent leader. Promotions and recruitment are based on merit. It is also important to note that the personnel are always trained to suit the tasks they are assigned.
The stakeholders of the Cleveland Fire Brigade are wholesomely involved in the decision making concerning the operations of the company. Their opinions are treated with utmost significance in order to serve them better. This is a good measure of quality service when the all the players are involved.
The company’s processes are well documented and are followed during service execution.
The procedures adopted by Cleveland are lucid easily understood and up to date. They also give provision for continual improvement. Recruitment, decision making and revision and review of the current practices are some of the processes that the Brigade displays a high level of adherence to quality standards.
The management of the company is organized in such a way that they emulate a complete system where each of the level is significant to the entire system. This approach is prominent in the Brigade and thus it adheres to the recommended models of management by the quality stipulations.
The Brigade acknowledges the fact that fire risk assessment process is continuous in nature and therefore it is mandatory to audit and monitor. This process will lead to ensuring that the current procedures are still relevant and at the same time ensure that the new methods are adopted. Regular assessment ensures that the changes in the Brigade are in tandem with the arising new hazards and risks.
Any trivial change however does not warrant amendments but the overall significance of the change should be considered first before the changes are affected. Some of the factors considered here include; Ignition sources or increased fuels due to change in processes Furniture or office layout might cause obstruction to sight of fire and escape mechanisms Increase in man power would mean that the fire exit is small for safe escape duration Expanding the office to another floor would mean a new fire alarm system is installed.
The decision making process is done after consultation of all the stakeholders. This is done in liaison with a laid out strategic plan and integrated management risk plan (IRMP). It is evident therefore that the quality of decisions making in the company fulfils the minimum requirements.
The brigade has very good relationship with their partners and therefore they have been able to raise enough finances to run their affairs. The company is committed in making their clients live a safer life and help those who are faced by disaster in the society in various ways. This indeed is in tandem with the quality requirements.
Through quality adherence, the company has been able to reach global markets, maintain dependable and consistent processes, minimize wastage and meet customer’s requirements, uniformity, better relationship among the stakeholders and growth in efficiency and effectiveness of service provision (Department Labour Research 3).
It is recommendable therefore that the company updates themselves with the current procedures as well as maintaining the current processes which lead to better management. The Brigade should also explore world standards not only those that apply to specific countries and integrate them so that they can be wholesomely be quality compliant. Figure 2 gives an illustration of the adherence of the company to the standards of quality Assurance (QA).The Brigade has well set policies which dictate the working proximities and guide all the processes and individuals. The processes and management of the company are well organized in such ways that they fulfill the core values of the Brigade systematically without raising confusion.
The planning and implementation of the company’s activities is well outlined in the strategic plans and is all inclusive a key requirement for quality is. The activities of the company are closely monitored by the regulatory body such as the British assurance standards which gives the third party certification. Furthermore the company is on a continual review process ensuring that there operations meet the changing demands of the society.
Figure 2: measurement of performance in an health and safety
In conclusion, the Brigade has made advancement pertaining provision of quality service, processes and maintenance of good relationship among the stakeholders ((ISO), International organisation for standardisation 1).
“(ISO), International organisation for standardisation”. About ISO, n.d. Web.
4 Feb. 2011. htm>. Cleveland. Cleveland Fire Brigade, n. d. Web. 4 Feb. 2011 gov.uk/welcome/>. Department Labour Research. In The line of Duty Research. Kingston: College Hill Press, 2008. Print. HSE. A guide to measuring Health and Safety Perormance; Procedure. England: Healtyh Safety Executive, 2001. Print. Owen, Fred, and Derek Maidment. Quality assurance:A guide to the application of ISO 9001 to process plant. London: IChemE, 1996. Print. Turner, Rodney. Gower handbook of project management. England: Gower Publishing, Ltd, 2007. Print.
htm>. Cleveland. Cleveland Fire Brigade, n.
d. Web. 4 Feb. 2011 gov.uk/welcome/>. Department Labour Research. In The line of Duty Research. Kingston: College Hill Press, 2008. Print. HSE. A guide to measuring Health and Safety Perormance; Procedure. England: Healtyh Safety Executive, 2001. Print. Owen, Fred, and Derek Maidment. Quality assurance:A guide to the application of ISO 9001 to process plant. London: IChemE, 1996. Print. Turner, Rodney. Gower handbook of project management. England: Gower Publishing, Ltd, 2007. Print.
gov.uk/welcome/>. Department Labour Research.
In The line of Duty Research. Kingston: College Hill Press, 2008. Print. HSE. A guide to measuring Health and Safety Perormance; Procedure. England: Healtyh Safety Executive, 2001. Print.
Owen, Fred, and Derek Maidment. Quality assurance:A guide to the application of ISO 9001 to process plant. London: IChemE, 1996. Print. Turner, Rodney.
Gower handbook of project management. England: Gower Publishing, Ltd, 2007. Print.