This site contains

  • library of research on the fire service.
  • an explanation of our commercial service.
Dr Sarah O’Connor and Dr Dave Baigent have been researchers, consultants and trainers on the fire and rescue service since 2001: prior to that Dave was a firefighter for over 30 years and is a FIFireE. We specialise in providing snapshot cultural audits of your fire service and  equality work. We offer a free meeting to discuss how we can work with you. Contact us 07802 495 329 Sarah’s recent PhD on fire service management is a unique piece of work that is evidence based and has much to add to the debate about modern fire service management. Sarah’s thesis sits alongside Dave’s Phd One more last working class hero in providing in-depth and unique insight into the fire service. The Library contains papers and dissertations that have been sent to us. If you and have a paper or dissertation that you would like us to publish or if you want to hear about the free research help that we provid contact Fire Magazine have published an article by Dave on the Grenfell Tower in their October 2017 edition. This article drew attention to how firefighters reacted to the fire at Grenfell Towers: and draws attention to the fact that when faced with something they had not been formally trained for, they responded using the experiential skills that each generation of firefighters had handed down informally. We are closely following the Grenfell Enquiry and working on producing a hands on analysis. If you have any interest in contributing to this please contact

Fitting-in offers two services

Commercial consultancy service that draws on our extensive knowledge of workplace culture, resistance to change, equality matters and management.

Free academic reference point through this website:
– where we publish submitted papers for other students to read

– and offer advice to people studying the fire service. Largely these people are undergraduate, masters and higher degree students from the fire service who we freely mentor and advise.

Our service is supported by more extensive training and projects on management, cultural understanding and equality.

Some very exciting news on what happened when we were working on our presentation for the 26th of February Westminster Briefing on Creating a diverse fire service. Whilst working up the presentation, we started to recognise what may be a new piece of theory that goes a long way to help understand why it is that firefighters have, after all their resistance, started to get behind community fire safety. This has yet to be fully worked up, but has the potential to answer a question in my 2001 thesis about why it was that firefighters resisted carrying out work that clearly had an outcome of saving lives. If the theory holds up under further examination, it may also provide a long sought after answer to how firefighters can really be encouraged to accept as firefighters people who are not white, male and heterosexual. Watch this space. 

Our widely acclaimed research that helps organisations to understand themselves is completed to academic standards. See for example our elite briefings workshops: A series of stand alone workshops to assist decision makers find some ‘answers’.

All our training is research led.

Principally the team consists of Dr Dave Baigent (Phd, BA Hons, FHEA and FIFireE) and Dr Sarah O’Connor (PhD CertEd, BA Hons FDA). However, we are often assisted by an extensive network of people who have expertise in the fire service, wider industry and in academia. CV’s

Dave’s 17 years of working as a consultant on the fire service, and as an academic researching and lecturing on the fire service, other emergency services and industry is supported by his over 30 year’s experience of working in the fire service. Recently Dave has been appointed Fellowship of the IFE (FIFireE) by Main Board nomination.

Sarah’s experience from 15 years of consultancy work, supported by her research and lecturing on the fire service, is now extended by her PhD research on fire service managers/management at the University of Kent.

Meet our Team


The team have presented their work at LGA annual conferences and working groups, in individual fire services, to representative bodies, to Standing Committees of the House of Commons, to the DCLG, at the fire service college. There is also an extensive portfolio of papers presented to national and international academic and fire service conferences. Much of our research has been as the result of industry led commissions, some of this has been published and much of it remains confidential. We continue to retain links based on our work with the New South Wales and Melbourne fire services and with the national and international scholars we have helped with their research.

Innocent bias

In many ways ‘innocent bias’ is almost a sequel to the idea of ‘institutional behaviour’ raised by the Lawrence Enquiry. At that time the fire service followed a lead provided by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector who suggested the fire service was institutionally sexist. As a consequence the fire service adopted an approach to overcome sexism by an ‘acceptance’ that sexist behaviour was less about the individual and more about how the institution set the tone for the behaviour of its workforce. The idea of taking collective blame was relatively successful because it avoided pointing fingers at individuals. One outcome was the attempt to demiliatrise the fire service to make it more efficient and loose its masculine image using ‘Rank to Role’ and IPDS. This was relatively successful: in particular developed into a cultural change around Community Fire Safety as once reluctant firefighters began to see the merits in this work.

However, many firefighters resisted the idea that they had managers – prefering to think they were led rather than managed. This of course is a masculine agenda connected to the operational.

Innocent Bias
We note that the Thomas Review speaks about ‘innocent bias’ in relation to equality. Although we didn’t use that term, our work in Sweden was all about raising and identifying this behaviour in a programme we led with the whole of the workforce in Räddningstjänsten Syd.
Our programme was called ‘Stopping the drip’

In simple terms, ‘Stopping the Drip’ was a very hands on and interactive awareness training designed for the Swedish Fire Service and based around questions about ‘are you conscious of how your behaviour impacts on others?’ .This was followed by working with the group to promote ways that people could speak out to challenge their colleagues in an appropriate manner. Our catchphrase for challenging this type of behaviour was and remains ‘what you don’t condemn you condone‘.

Fitting-in specialises in producing action research for clients who want an ‘outside’ view on their organisation.We look at old problems, new ideas and your culture – We provide fully supported answers! Although our research is based on academic standards we do not live in an ivory tower – we are ‘short on rhetoric and long on answers‘.

Our three/four day snapshot audit allows for two researchers to meet with you to plan the research, spend three days researching and then provide an immediate verbal report back: a written report follows in seven days. Email now for further details or ring on 07802495328.Examples can be provided from our work in SwedenMerseysideSouth YorkshireLocal Government AssociationNorthamptonshire and Cambridgeshire. We also work with other organisations but to date this work remains confidential.