Fire service jobs drive targets women and ethnic minorities

Jeni Harvey

WOMEN and people from ethnic minorities are being targeted in a new recruitment drive by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“Awareness” sessions and recruitment days are being held throughout January and February, to try and encourage people from “under-represented” areas of the community to join the fire service and dispel any preconceptions they might have.

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A fire service spokesman said the campaign aims to make South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service “more representative of the communities it serves.”

The fire service’s director of service development, Mark Shaw, said: “Perceptions of the fire service as being a white, male-dominated organisation are changing and here in South Yorkshire we have already come a very long way, with female and black minority ethnic firefighters on the front line at fire stations all over the county.

“But at the same time we fully accept that we still have a long way to go before we become truly representative of the communities which we serve.

“The role of a firefighter has changed considerably in recent years, and we now play a vital social role, including youth work, fire safety initiatives and carrying out free home safety checks.

“The aim of this campaign is to give under-represented groups an insight into what the role and selection process entails, and hopefully make them think about a career they may never have considered before.”

For more information on recruitment days and events people should call 0114 253 2230.

Meanwhile, a 48-hour strike by Fire Brigades Union members in South Yorkshire is still set to take place from 9am on Sunday, followed by an eight-day strike due to begin next Wednesday.

Firefighters are in dispute over planned changes to shift times, which would see them working two shifts of 12 hours each rather than the current 15-hour night shift and nine-hour day shift.

Chief fire officer Mark Smitherman said he could reassure members of the public that contingency plans, similar to those used during previous strikes last autumn, would provide “full emergency cover.”