SF&RS Values & Standards

As a volunteer for Surrey Fire and Rescue Service you must adhere to the below policies: 

Values & Standards of Surrey Fire & Rescue Service.



Foreword by the Chief Fire Officer

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has a well-deserved reputation for excellence; this is a strong reflection of its firefighters, officers and support staff. This reputation derives from and depends upon unequivocal commitment and mutual trust. Our Values and Standards are vital to operational effectiveness - they are the lifeblood that sustains our fire and rescue service.

They have to be more than just words; we must believe in them and live by them. Therefore, it is the effective and coherent translation of these Values and Standards into actions that must penetrate every command and every part of our organisation until they are instinctive.
We must achieve the correct application of leadership, followership, management and command in the right proportions at the right time to succeed in our vitally important mission.
Individuals actively create their command ethos and must ensure that values and standards are at the centre of it, through personal example and by developing and training their teams.

This responsibility to be at the heart of the process cannot be delegated, and I hold you all accountable for it.

The values are about character and spirit: the standards define our actions and behaviour: I expect everyone in Surrey Fire and Rescue Service to abide by these Values and Standards.

Steve Owen-Hughes.

Chief fire officer.


April 2012 V1.7

The reputation of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is extremely high. This tradition of excellence - and the public support it engenders - depends in large part on the operational effectiveness of the service which results from the high standards of professionalism, individual behaviour and self-discipline. These qualities cannot be taken for granted and are only possible if they are underpinned by a robust and clearly understood framework of Values and Standards. It requires all of us to understand and live by them; and for all commanders - from the most senior to the most junior - to show emphatic leadership.
It is operational effectiveness that requires the service to have Values and Standards that are different from society in general - ‘need’ to be different not ‘right’ to be different. However, the service is not immune from changes in society. Therefore, we must explain why our Values and Standards are more demanding of the individual; and why such demands are reasonable and equally necessary on and off duty.
Values are the moral principles - the intangible character and spirit - that should guide and develop us into the sort of people we should be; whereas standards are the authoritative yardsticks that define how we behave and on which we judge and measure that behaviour. They reflect and are consistent with, the moral virtues and ethical principles that underpin any decent society. It is important that they are explained within that wider context, for it is vital that firefighters, officers and support staff understand these Values and Standards and are able to apply them in today’s complex environment. To that end, the articulation of these values and standards needs to be accompanied by a continuous and appropriate example; by all commanders, junior and senior alike.

The Operational Imperative
Firefighters, officers and support staff are part of a team, and the effectiveness of that team depends on each individual playing his or her part to the full. Success depends above all else on good morale which is the spirit that enables firefighters, officers and support staff to triumph over adversity: morale linked to, and reinforced by, discipline. A disciplined approach is also a key factor that influences positive health and safety outcomes.

Morale consists of many factors, including confidence in equipment, good training and sound administration; but ultimately it is the confidence between commanders and their team and between individual firefighters, officers and support staff. Such confidence is a product of leadership and comradeship. High morale cannot be created overnight, but requires the forging of close bonds of professional and personal trust, which will withstand the stresses imposed by the demands of operations. It expects commitment and self- sacrifice and to put the interests of the team and the task ahead of one’s own.
Values and Standards directly contribute to the service’s ethos. They are a moral requirement but are also useful in making the service more efficient and effective. Upholding them is the collective responsibility of all members of the service. They are the foundations of teamwork, and are interdependent.
They include such qualities as courage, fortitude and loyalty. In addition to their moral significance.

The Values

Selfless commitment
On joining the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, it is expected that firefighters accept a commitment to serve whenever and wherever they are needed, and to their best abilities. Such commitment imposes certain limitations on individual freedom and can sometimes require a degree of self-sacrifice.

Moral courage is important. That is the courage to do what is right even when it may be unpopular, or risk ridicule or danger, and to insist on maintaining the highest standards of decency and behaviour at all times.
This earns respect and fosters trust. Courage - both physical and moral - creates the strength upon which spirit and success depend. It is a quality needed by every individual, but it is especially important for those placed in positions of authority, because others will depend on their lead and respond to it.


To be effective in operations, the fire service must act as a disciplined force: commanders’ orders carried out, everybody confident that they will not be let down by their comrades. Discipline is the primary antidote to fear and maintains effectiveness. It is supported by team loyalty, trust and professionalism. Discipline instils self-control and breeds self-confidence. Good discipline means that all individuals will obey orders, and to do so with imagination and resource. The best discipline is self-discipline: innate, not imposed. The service expects self-discipline from every individual, and training aims to strengthen it. Discipline requires clearly understood rules. This discipline system must be fairly applied both on and off duty by all those in positions of authority.

Individuals must be welded into strong and robust teams in order to achieve success, where individual needs and desires are subordinated to those of the team, however unpalatable or potentially dangerous. Therefore, integrity has a unique significance to us in the service, it is essential to trust: in particular, firefighters must have complete trust in each of their comrades for their lives may ultimately depend on it. Integrity means being honest and truthful. All forms of deceit and dishonesty constitute a lack of integrity: they call into question whether an individual can be relied upon, damaging the team and therefore operational effectiveness. All commanders are responsible for defining and maintaining standards of personal behaviour in the service by example, direction and education. Integrity also demands that those who are in positions of authority, at whatever level, set the highest standards and are fair and consistent to their teams. A leader’s example in personal behaviour is vital, and this responsibility increases with rank.

Loyalty binds all of the service together: it goes up, down and across the organisation. It turns individuals into teams, creating and strengthening the formations, units and subunits of which the service is composed. The service and the chain of command rely on the continuing allegiance, commitment and support of all who serve: that is, on their loyalty. Equally important is that all individuals must be confident that the service will treat them with loyalty and fairness.
Those in authority must be loyal to their teams: representing their interests faithfully, dealing with complaints thoroughly and developing their abilities through progressive training. Individuals must be loyal to their leaders, their team, and their duty. Being loyal to one’s leaders or team does not mean that wrong-doing should be condoned or covered up: this is misplaced loyalty and questions an individual’s integrity. Loyalty, though expected, must be earned through commitment, self-sacrifice, courage, professionalism, decency and integrity.
These qualities are required both on and off duty as they are enduring characteristics that cannot be turned on and off at will.

Respect for Others
Respect for others is a hallmark of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service: it comes from the duty to put others first and means that there is no place for prejudice or favouritism. Like loyalty, respect for others goes both up and down the chain of command and sideways among peers.
Respect for others also extends to the treatment of all human beings, particularly those we have deployed to help. All staff must act within the law and it essential that they maintain the highest standards of decency and fairness at all times, even under the most difficult of conditions.

The Fire Service’s Standards
The values outlined above underpin the ethos of the service and contribute directly to achieving operational effectiveness. In sustaining these values, every member of staff must strive to achieve and maintain the highest professional and personal standards. It is impractical to identify here every standard required in every aspect of an individual’s professional and private life. The service’s standards are designed to ensure that all behaviour is lawful; appropriate; and totally professional. Commanders have to understand the context and set out the standards in sufficient detail required by the situation; clear communication on what is expected and why is essential. Every member of staff must avoid behaviour that risks degrading their professional ability or which may undermine morale by damaging the trust and respect that exists between individuals who depend on each other. For this reason, the service takes a different and more demanding approach towards certain types of behaviour and relationships that might, in society, be regarded as a matter of individual choice or morality, and of no concern to the wider community.

All individuals have the right to live and work in an environment free from harassment, unlawful discrimination and intimidation. Any unjustifiable behaviour that results in an individual being unfairly treated is fundamentally incompatible with the ethos of the fire service and is not to be tolerated.
Operational effectiveness requires the fire service to be physically robust. However, the use of physical strength or the abuse of authority to intimidate or victimise others is unacceptable and will undermine trust and respect. It is the responsibility of commanders to protect others from physical and mental bullying, and to deal with it promptly.

Appropriate Behaviour
The operational imperative to sustain team cohesion and to maintain trust and loyalty between commanders and those they command imposes a need for a standard of social behaviour more demanding than those required by society at large. This is equally necessary both on and off duty.
It is important to acknowledge the need for mutual respect and the requirement to avoid conduct that offends others.
Social misbehaviour can undermine trust and cohesion and, therefore, damage effectiveness. It is not practicable to list every type of conduct or relationship that may constitute social misbehaviour. The seriousness with which misconduct will be regarded will depend on the individual circumstances that prevail at that time and the potential for adversely affecting operational effectiveness.
Total Professionalism
All individuals must exercise the highest standards of professionalism, as befits their role and appointment, at all times to both safeguard effectiveness and also the service’s reputation.

Consistently and continuously demonstrating and maintaining the service’s Values and Standards is the responsibility of all commanders. Although values and standards can be imposed and regulated through discipline, it is self-discipline that will encourage all ranks to adhere to the Values and Standards, recognising the inherent value of such qualities and conduct.
Commanders must recognise that this is challenging, requiring them to provide leadership and example. Therefore, all commanders must lead by example: they are responsible for explaining, instilling and ensuring that these values and standards are understood and adhered to by their teams. Effective and timely communication between commanders and their teams is crucial to this process.
The Service Test
Individuals who fail to uphold the Values and Standards may be subject to disciplinary or managerial action. In assessing whether to take action, commanders must establish the seriousness of the misconduct and its impact on operational effectiveness and in turn the appropriate and proportionate level of sanction.

The service’s Values and Standards expects a degree of commitment and self-sacrifice from individuals which goes beyond that normally expected from other citizens.
All members of staff in Surrey Fire and Rescue Service are expected to commit themselves to achieving and maintaining these Values and Standards. This commitment is essential to the ethos of the service and contributes directly to the maintenance of effectiveness. It is the duty of all commanders to ensure that these Values and Standards are accorded the highest priority, are fully explained to their staff and are applied consistently and continuously. Commanders at every level must lead by example and encourage their teams to live by its Values and to live up to its Standards.

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