Increasingly, public sector workers are being required to expand their roles into public health. Fire and rescue services, as part of the Emergency Medical Response trial, are at the forefront of role expansion, with increasing capacity due to reducing numbers of fires in recent years. Firefighter roles, successfully implemented, include responding to cardiac arrests and conducting checks on health and wellbeing in people’s own homes. In this study, we explored fire service members’ perceptions about this role expansion, to increase understanding of how role expansion can be introduced and supported.
We interviewed 21 firefighters and team members about their perceptions of new roles. Interviews were conducted, transcribed and thematically analysed until reaching thematic saturation.
Perspectives differed for responding to cardiac arrests and wellbeing checks. Cardiac arrests were seen as aligned with core roles and thus more acceptable. For both types of new role participants wanted more training and opportunities to provide feedback on implementation.
How team members viewed role expansion depended on new role alignment with core role, training and being able to give feedback to management to shape future services.