HR chief at Avon Fire and Rescue Service awarded OBE

An HR director who pioneered talent management in the Fire Service to improve safety has been honoured with an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

Maggie Hart, director of HR and people development at Avon Fire and Rescue Service, was honoured for her services to local government after dedicating 23 years to helping the Fire Service develop the management selection and training programme that still runs today – the Integrated Personal Development System.

Working for the London Fire Service in 1994, Hart pioneered the Officer Development Group, which abandoned traditional notions of managers as technical instructors and focused instead on the need for better communication, leadership and innovation.

She said: “I was looking for people who were excellent communicators, who were innovative and able to create and nurture change that suited the pace of the service. The skills I was looking for then are needed even more so today.”

Dozens of the firefighters Hart trained are today working as chief fire officers – the highest rank within the service.

The success of Hart’s project convinced the Fire Service to prioritise management training, and the initiative was rolled out across the country, providing the foundations for the Integrated Personal Development Programme.

“I feel we were able back then to make significant contributions to firefighter safety and able to give training and development an improved role and position in the service as a whole.

“Now the service has really invested in the training and development of its firefighters. That early work has made the service much more professional about the way it trains and develops its staff, and hopefully it’s now much safer. We refocused the service on training.”

Hart added she hoped her OBE would ensure more back-office achievements in the public sector would be recognised in the future.

She said: “Without the back room, the service would find it very difficult to function, so I hope that this will enable people to look at how important it is to have good support services so front-line workers can effectively carry out their work.”

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