ERU human resources

When a NS chooses to hold an ERU of any type, they commit to having specialist personnel available to deploy within 24 to 48 hours at any time. This commitment implies that they will recruit, train and roster a pool of specialists large enough to support four rotations of the ERU they hold.

Recruiting an ERU

Recruiting ERU personnel is different from hiring staff, as ERU delegates will not be employed by the recruiting NS unless they are already a staff member. Instead, they will be trained and asked to volunteer for periods of time where they can be on standby for deployment within 24 to 48 hours after the ERU is called for by the surge desk at the IFRC.

ERU delegates only join the staff of a NS when they deploy, and they are usually not paid salaries until then, although they can be paid retainers for the time they are on call. When deployed, the deploying NS seconds the ERU delegates to the IFRC.

Recruiting for an ERU is also challenging because a successful recruitment relies on finding a rare mix of skills and experience:

  • adequate technical skills including being adaptable to an emergency context
  • relevant international experience
  • adequate soft skills or core competencies, including working effectively as a team, but also independently enough to deal with split deployments (for example, where the team may be spread across several locations)
  • availability to complete a long training pathway (usually several weeks long, spread over an entire year)
  • ability to remain on call for several months per year, and to deploy at short notice for one month at a time.

Recruiting for an ERU is usually done jointly between a technical ERU manager and HR colleagues. In British Red Cross, this is a member of the logistics team (usually the logistics manager), a member from the emergencies, surge and technical advisory (ESTA) team, a member from the learning and development team and the international rosters and registers coordinator in HR. It requires careful planning and constant communication with internal stakeholders.

Typically, the recruitment of ERU roster delegates takes several months and is split as below:

An arrow shows the progression of the recruitment pathway for the ERU: advertising, long-listing, short-listing, technical interview and assessment day

The recruitment for ERU members is separated into two different stages: recruitment and training. It is important to note that candidates are only considered ERU members after they successfully “pass” the training pathway, which consists of both classroom training and simulation exercises.

Once recruited, ERU members are made “deployment-ready” by:

  • having their personal details pre-recorded in the HR department’s systems: contact details, bank details, health records and criminal records (where applicable)
  • regular check-ins with HR, especially during the months when they are on standby
  • maintaining updated records of their professional experience.

The National Society sponsoring an ERU covers salaries, benefits, insurance and travel costs of personnel during training and operations. It is also responsible for putting the team together, as well as making sure it has the necessary skills and experience. Each member must adhere to the International Federation’s code of conduct.

The British Red Cross maintains two Logistics ERUs and one MSM ERU, which means that the minimum size of the ERU pools should be 16 to 24 logisticians and 16 to 24 MSM delegates.

Training ERU personnel

Once the recruitment phase is completed, the training pathway begins. In the British Red Cross, training is a two or three-phase process.

  1. Impact – Introduction to Red Cross Movement and humanitarian coordination mechanisms
  2. Foundation – Introduction to emergency operations and the IFRC Disaster Response mechanisms
  3. Technical/Specialist – Simulation exercise: run in teams in field-like conditions

Impact and Foundation can either be delivered together or separately. In between each of these formal, face-to-face training phases, independent, at-home training modules must also be completed.

For more detailed information, see the latest version of the British Red Cross ERU candidate guide, which is attached to the advertisement for ERU membership and sent to all applicants to help them understand the recruitment process.

The requirement is currently for all candidates to follow the training pathway in person, but this may change in the future with the use of remote/online training.

Maintaining an active roster

Once candidates enter the ERU, they are added to a roster.

Each ERU technical manager engages differently with their respective rosters through the international rosters and registers coordinator in the HR team. Regular touchpoints are:

  • Request for availability. The MSM ERU manager goes to the pool of members once a year, while the Logistics ERU manager asks for availability on the 15th of each month for M+2 (for example, on 15 January, roster members are asked to come forward to be on standby on 1 March).
  • Updating the roster members’ details: CV, medical and criminal records (as applicable), to ensure they are deployment-ready during the months they have offered to be on standby.
  • Sharing training opportunities, from within the British Red Cross, from the IFRC or the wider humanitarian community, that can be useful to develop roster members’ competencies. These are sent by the international rosters and registers coordinator, upon request of the ERU manager.
  • Refresher conferences and masterclasses. At least once a year, the MSM and logistics communities get together (separately) for either a refresher course, a conference or a masterclass. These events are organised by the ERU managers and their learning and development business partner.
  • Inviting roster members to facilitate trainings or share their deployment experience. Roster members can be invited to participate in parts of the ERU pathway, particularly to share their deployment experiences or support simulation exercises.
  • Quarterly calls with roster members, with follow-up newsletter sent to all members.

At any of the above touchpoints, it is important to reconsider the roster members’ competencies, and to capture any changes on the roster. Members’ competencies should be registered on a mapping matrix, maintained by the ERU manager and the international rosters and registers coordinator. The current matrix can be requested from the Logs team.

Note: members can request to be put on hold, or they can be put on hold by decision of the ERU technical managers, based on lack of competencies or commitment. In order to become active again, they must usually complete all or part of the ERU training pathway or attend a refresher conference.

ERU equipment

When a NS offers to sponsor an ERU, they commit to having a team of experts on standby for rapid deployment, as well as a standard, specialised kit ready to support the team in fulfilling their mission. For more details about the content of the ERU kits, see the Logistics ERUs and the MSM20 ERU sections.

The sponsoring NS agrees to procure, store and maintain the kit, and to participate in the development of the standard kit composition as relevant, through feeding back on the appropriateness of kit following deployments.

At the British Red Cross, the content of both ERU kits are procured mostly through framework agreements, by the LOGE and with the approval of the global response manager. After a kit has been deployed, its replenishment must be approved by the global response manager, as well as any changes to the kit proposed following kit feedback (see the Replenishing the ERU kits section).

The items received are kitted into modules (the MSM kit has 38 modules in total, split into eight families, while the logistics ERU has 14 modules, split into seven families) and stored at the international warehouse in Bulwick.

Some of the kits’ contents, such as vehicles and cold-weather-specific equipment, is common to both ERUs – these are called the “shared modules” and can be deployed with either ERU kit.

The warehouse officer is responsible for ensuring the safety and maintenance of the entire ERU equipment. This includes vehicles, generators, all electric appliances and safety equipment such as fire extinguishers.

The value of the ERU kits is managed as an investment, where British Red Cross funds the purchases until the kit is charged to an emergency operation. Until then, the value of the kit sits on a balance sheet that captures additions, write-offs and disposals to the kit while it is in stock. For more details on this procedure, refer to the ERU kit standard operating procedure and the balance sheet guidance note held by the logistics team.

Financial commitments

All the costs associated with maintaining an ERU’s preparedness outside of a response operation are covered by the sponsoring NS. This includes storage costs and maintenance costs for the kit, but also retainers for on-call delegates and training costs. The storage and maintenance costs are budgeted for by the logistics team, and funds become part of the logistics framework, while retainer costs fall under the HR budget and training costs under the learning and development budget.

When the decision is made to deploy one of the British Red Cross ERUs, the cost of deployment is covered by the British Red Cross, as a pledge to the IFRC-led operation. The decision to apply later for back-funding from the IFRC appeal is made depending on funds available from the British Red Cross.

During the deployment, operational costs can be charged to the IFRC, while running costs must be covered by the British Red Cross.

  • Operational costs: costs related to any activity listed on the IFRC appeal. For example, where the appeal includes construction of latrines, all costs associated with their construction (materials, manpower, etc) will be covered by the funds raised against the IFRC appeal.
  • Running costs: costs related to having the MSM ERU deployed into the operation. For example, the cost of food and accommodation for the ERU delegates.

A table listing the most common types of expenditure of an ERU deployment and the nature of costs involved here.

In summary, the breakdown of costs is usually as below:

PhaseAssociated costsCosts covered byComments
BRC logistics
Delegate costs (retainers,
health checks, etc)
TrainingBRC L&D
Decision to deployShipping costs
Travel costs
Per diem
Dedicated BRC project
Can be recharged to IFRC appeal
(ad hoc and with prior approval
from IFRC)
DeploymentOperational costsIFRC appealSee details in cost type table
Running costs
(including per diem)
Dedicated BRC project
ReturnShipping back to UK or
other storage location
Inspection costs
Dedicated BRC project
ERU equipment is not supposed to
be shipped back to the UK
Dedicated BRC project
Evaluation can be commissioned
or done with internal resources

Available to download here.

Read the next section on Deploying an ERU here.

Download the full section here.

Budgeting for fleet

Fleet management budgets should include the full costs associated with running fleet, including:

  • cost of vehicle acquisition (buying, rental costs)
  • cost of fuel, service and maintenance
  • shipping costs associated with the acquisition or return of vehicle (including import tax, if applicable)
  • disposal costs (at the end of the programme)
  • insurance costs
  • registration and licensing costs
  • drivers’ costs (include per diems for field trips)
  • other staff costs associated with managing the fleet (e.g. dispatchers, mechanics)
  • costs of additional equipment associated with the fleet, including vehicle radios, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, alarm systems and tracking systems.

Fleet management typically includes fixed costs and running costs.

Fixed costs: (One-off costs to make fleet available to the operation)

  • vehicle/generator
  • import costs (if applicable)
  • in-country registration cost
  • end-of-life sale income.

Running costs: (recurring costs to maintain availability of fleet for use)

  • driver costs
  • maintenance
  • spare parts
  • fuel
  • insurance
  • depreciation
  • parking fees and tolls
  • revision costs and renewal of roadworthiness certificate (where applicable).

When budgeting for fleet, both cost types must be included in the budget (preferably separately), and expenses against each must be tracked, reported and analysed in monthly reports.

It is helpful to consult with HQ offices or the HNS regarding information about fixed costs, as they will have data from past operations.

For vehicles supplied via the IFRC VRP, monthly reports are required to be submitted to the IFRC fleet base (usually via their ‘FleetWave’ system) – the required data forms part of the VRP contract.

Note: data for the monthly logistics reports should be provided by finance, but the logistics or fleet unit are responsible for checking the reported expenses against approved purchases, maintenance orders or fuel requests.

Procuring fleet: process, selection criteria, delivery

In general, it is recommended to use existing framework agreements (FWAs) to purchase vehicles (FWAs can be held globally by the ICRC or IFRC, or locally by the HNS) as this allows centralised purchasing and management, and economies of scale.

Where there are no FWAs in place, the procurement of fleet will generally be done through a tender process, due to the high value of the acquisitions.

Refer to the procurement chapter for details on the tender process, in particular the Tendering for goods or services and Using the Movement’s resources sections.

Fleet-specific considerations when tendering for vehicles:

  • Ensure that a registered Movement partner in country (IFRC/HNS) agrees to be the buyer and legal owner of the vehicles, and include them in the tender process.
  • The committee on contract (CoC) should include representatives from the legal buyers (IFRC/HNS) and the funding partners. Technical experts and end users should be represented on the CoC too (ask UKO logistics coordinators if necessary).
  • The tender response document must specify the origin of the vehicles, their year of manufacture, current mileage, service history and warranty details (if purchasing second-hand).
  • Specify in the tender document whether the purchasing organisation is exempt from paying import taxes and duties.
  • The tender response document should include a breakdown of costs: vehicle, options, import fees and registration fees.
  • Specifications* must be developed per RCRC standards, preferably with input from expected users and logistics experts. It is strongly recommended to consult British Red Cross UKO team. Specifications must be as detailed as possible.
  • Submissions to the tender must include an ownership certificate from the current owner of the vehicles.

*For specifications, see the Fleet options and modalities section of Defining fleet needs.

Options to avoid if possible:

  • Electronic systems that are too sophisticated.
  • Automatic transmission is to be considered only if there are competency restrictions with manual transmission.
  • Specifications with risk of adverse perceptions, such as tinted windows or leather seats.
  • Vehicles that are non-compliant with local and national emission regulations.

Note: buying second-hand vehicles is not permitted by all donors – check with your programme team which procurement rules apply under the funding used.

HR resources for fleet

The staff required to run the operational fleet depends on the size of the fleet, the number of daily vehicle movements and the operational context of the project.

Fleet sizeNo. of vehiclesRecommended HR structure
Small1 - 5Admin delegate with senior driver
Medium6 - 29Fleet manager and vehicle dispatcher
Large> 30Fleet delegate with full team

Available to download here.

The operation should align budgets to activity levels to determine the fleet department’s resourcing structure. The following are roles to consider in a fleet team:

  • vehicle drivers
  • dispatchers
  • fleet supervisors (or head driver)
  • fleet managers
  • fleet assistants
  • radio room staff
  • mechanics.

Standard role descriptions, with detailed competency and tier requirements, are available from the UK-based logs team.

Read the next section on Vehicle usage here.

Download the full section here.