Recently retired Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Allan Hughes studied DMS and MA Managing Change at Bradford & Ilkley Community College in the 1990s.
Allan joined West Yorkshire Fire Service as a Fire-fighter
in 1977 and had progressed through the ranks until in
1990, when he was promoted to Assistant Divisional
Officer at the Brigade’s Training Centre.
“The Fire Service was then good at hard skills training in core areas such as Breathing Apparatus, Road Traffic Accident and Hazardous Materials training, but there was at this time, little emphasis placed on management and leadership
training. All such training was conducted at the National Fire Service College and in truth the training was militaristic, dated and didactic in nature.”
So Allan enrolled on the DMS. “Course tutor, Roger Wynn was the star performer; he had considerable experience as a manager in local industry and was able to give us real life examples of how we could apply the input he was giving in our working lives, and all related in his own inimitable style. The whole experience undoubtedly broadened my horizons, increased my self confidence and equipped me with new and relevant skills that made me a better, more effective manager and assisted my career to progress. I realised for the first time that I needed to lead as well as manage and that to get the best from my team I needed to listen to them and following Roger’s urgings, to practice some management by walking about and not become too desk bound. At that time these things were real eye openers.”
Shortly after, Allan was promoted to Divisional Officer and a year later to Senior Divisional Officer as the Brigade’s Senior Fire Safety Officer. Using skills and techniques learned on the DMS he set about restructuring and reorganising the department with a particular emphasis on performance management. Allan then enrolled on the MA Managing Change.
“I remember being told by course tutor Judith Foreman that my work occasionally lacked academic rigour, and she seemed determined that it should acquire some! The MA was more theoretically based but by this time I was operating within my organisation at a much more strategic level.”
Allan believes his academic studies helped him win a place on the intensely competitive Fire Service Brigade Command Course, required to become a Principal Officer, in 1998. In January 2000 he was promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Officer as Head of Human Resources, where he remained until his recent retirement in March 2008. As head of learning and development Allan now had scope to introduce a much broader based management and leadership programme into the organisation. He was instrumental in the development of a series of management courses for each of the ranks, leading to a Foundation degree offered as a dual award between the University of Bradford and the ILM.
“The thinking behind these initiatives can be directly traced back to my own experiences of learning at Bradford College. I believe these programmes are paying great dividends for the organisation and therefore for the public of West Yorkshire.”
Photograph supplied by West Yorkshire Fire Service