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At the Bleedin'' Edge: Managing on the Move, Ambivalence and the Provision of UK Fire Services

Research output: Working paper

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Abstract

Since the mid 1990s, fire services across the UK have begun to introduce mobile incident management information systems (known as Vehicle Mounted Data Systems or VMDS) with the intention of enhancing information to front-line firefighters and modernising the provision of fire services. Drawing on actor-network theory, this paper examines how fire service work is made increasingly mobile and how fire crews respond ambivalently to the implementation of a mobile information system. The paper argues that fire crews’ ambivalence can be connected to a range of organisational uncertainties and practical ambiguities associated with the current and future deployment of the VMDS. This suggests that implementation of mobile devices is not a one-off initiative, but is characterised by ongoing iterations and an uncertain trajectory. From its deployment as a device to provide information ‘anytime and anywhere’ it is concluded that the VMDS has now become an important part of the future context for UK fire service provision.