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Fire Service Diversity

National Graduate Programme For England

April 6 2008 - Following recent criticism of the lack of diversity in the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS), Parmjit Dhanda, Fire Minister for England, has committed £3million towards increasing diversity, including plans for a national graduate entry scheme. England's 46 FRS employ about 30,800 full time operational staff.

The Audit Commission recognised that awareness of equality and diversity was improving in all fire and rescue services but found that the lack of a diverse workforce is still a major issue, especially among its leaders. At present, there is only one woman chief fire officer, and none from the ethnic minorities. In fact, minority ethnic employees comprised a mere 3% of all FRS staff - a similar percentage to that of women. In the Police force 5% come from ethnic minorities and 22% of all employees are women while the prison service has 5.7% of staff from minority ethnic groups and 21.9% are women. The Audit Commission contended that the lack of diversity significantly reduces the service's ability to reach and educate different communities about the risks from fire.

Parmjit Dhanda said:

"We need our fire and rescue service to be able to reach out to all the communities it serves to educate people about the risks from fire. The fire and rescue service has historically lagged behind other public services and more must be done to make it more representative. I am determined to drive forward radical change.

Just 12% of respondents to a survey of the Fire and Rescue Service were found to be graduates. The new graduate scheme is intended to create a career path to support efforts to:

  • increase the diversity of applicants, and
  • strengthen leadership by attracting and developing the best talent into the service

Parmjit Dhanda said:

"This graduate scheme will step up our efforts to ensure the fire service connects with all our communities, particularly those most at risk and benefits from the most talented employees at all levels from new recruits to Chief Officers."

It is estimated that up to fifty graduates and employees each year could receive specialist training, mentoring and advice.



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