Praise for diversity in new intake of firefighters serving Tyne and Wear

Praise has been given to the activities carried out by fire service bosses in Tyne and Wear to help diversify new intakes of firefighters.

By Nic Marko
Friday, 8th October 2021, 3:33 pm
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue HQ in Washington
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue HQ in Washington

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority bosses have provided an update on the diversity details of each training programme since they resumed recruitment in 2018.

Following a period of approximately ten years where they had to defer recruitment activity due to “austerity measures”, the service resumed its whole time firefighter recruitment campaign in 2018.

From then up to September 2021, subject to the completion of training by the latest recruits, the authority would have introduced 17 female operational firefighters and 17 individuals who consider their ethnicity to be other than white-British.

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They have also recruited five people who consider themselves to have a sexual orientation other than heterosexual and three individuals who consider themselves to have a disability.

Nicola Moore, the service’s head of human resources, said they have a long standing commitment to diversify the workforce, with numerous actions in place, despite national challenges that remain.

She said: “Overall it’s encouraging, it’s an ongoing evolving journey of diversification activities.

“We recently created a new post of inclusion manager and that post has the objective to advise the service in its understanding of both workforce experience and community engagement in relation to promoting the service as an employer.”

She added the work directly supports their 2025 vision, and they are also in the process of compiling a positive action campaign project.

The comments were made at the fire authority’s Human Resources Committee on Monday, October 4.

Cllr Gary Haley, Gateshead representative, and chair of the committee, said the increase in recruitment campaigns is a positive for increasing diversity.

He said: “I think what’s pleasing is that there is a direction of travel here and the figures are improving as we go from one recruitment exercise to the other.”

Cllr Tom Woodwark, Newcastle City Council representative, added he welcomed the inclusion manager post, and hopes this will help make a further difference.

He said: “This is not going to be an overnight success, this is something that has been and will continue to be for some time a historic problem for every organisation across the country.

“There’s a whole host of things that we need to do before we see a significant change in our workforce and we need to be aware.

“There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be done, and is being done, but we need to continue with that, we’ve just got to work on it.”

It comes after at the end of last month 36 recruits started their training at the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service headquarters in Washington, after one of the largest recruitment drives in recent years.

The trainee firefighters began their 12-week training programme to learn the skills needed to keep communities safe and respond to emergencies in the region.

This will be the fourth cohort of recruits to join the organisation since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, with 64 new firefighters already working on the front line.

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