Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service

Industry: Fire and Rescue
Location: 60 Locations
Users: 1,800
Technology: Fresh on Microsoft 365

An intranet that enables smarter ways of working and engages DWFS firefighters whilst on the move

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFS) has over 60 fire stations serving local communities and crews that are available to respond to emergency calls 24 hours a day. Alongside emergency response, they place a great deal of focus on prevention, aiming to reduce the risk of incidents happening in the first place and working closely communities to ensure that local people are as safe as can be.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service in April 2016 merged Dorset FRS and Wiltshire FRS. By achieving one strategic leadership team, bringing together departments, this was the perfect time for DWFS to start identifying new ways of working. The organisation had made a successful bid to fund this transformation and received a grant to enable the harmonisation of their IT infrastructure to address the challenges of being a larger and predominantly rural Fire and Rescue Service.

“Fresh provides a single place to access contacts, mail, calendar, targeted information and systems – from anywhere and any device with an internet connection.”


The combined Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service merged in April 2016, as a result of this the organisation doubled in size. Spread across 60 various locations across two counties, staff were travelling miles each day to meet and work with colleagues. As they settle into their new service, employees needed to adjust to their new structure and for some this meant new locations. Many of the staff would have no daily interaction with their new colleagues but as the teams come together there was a need to improve collaboration and introduce smarter ways of working.

With a lack of understanding about who colleagues are and what they do, this led to an overuse of ‘all staff’ emails. Collaborative working was defined by email attachments and face-to-face meetings. The organisation migrated across to Office 365 however, with a workforce predominately based out in the field (non- desk workers) employees had a lack of empathy and were unresponsive to the new technologies.

Creating a Fresh solution that enables an entire Fire Service to work smarter

DWFS required a platform that would generate interest in organisational initiatives and increase consumption of Microsoft purchases. To reach these objectives Content and Code implemented Fresh Intranet. The project was led by the communications team, Fresh Intranet was rebranded as Connect. The smarter working principles they believed in was based on “work is what you do, not where you are.” The approach was to provide a single platform that firefighters and colleagues could access contacts, mail, calendar, targeted information and systems from anywhere and any device. As well as providing a mobile responsive field access to connect external users to the organisation. As an outcome of the merger, DWFS required a standardised documents that complied with regulations, all of which were developed within Connect.

To kick start this, a project team was made up of comms, information management, IT, training and senior management champions. To get the various teams on board during the development stages, the comms team sent colleagues a staff survey to acquire information about how/where the organisation needed areas of improvement. Awareness sessions were help 8 weeks before launch, and training guides and videos were provided by Content and Code to help users gain a better understanding about how they can really benefit from using Connect. The project in total took 3 months but the project continues to evolve.