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Fire and Rescue Service challenged to meet new equality targets

New recruitment targets for the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) have today been announced as a report from Communities and Local Government shows that representation and promotion rates for women and people from minority ethnic groups are still too low.

The new Fire and Rescue Service Equality and Diversity Report reveals that:
* minority ethnic staff are currently only 5 per cent of the total FRS work force contrasting with 13 per cent in the population as a whole;
* successful applications from women to be firefighters varies from 38 per cent to zero; and
* data collected on ethnicity needs improving as lack of detail makes monitoring progress difficult.

The Fire Minister Sadiq Khan has issued a challenge to the Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) to greatly improve their performance on equality and diversity by meeting the new recruitments target that they have signed up to and engage more closely with the staff associations.

The new targets that the FRAs have signed up to are either:

* for the recruitment of women - 15 per cent or a tougher target of 18 per cent of new entrants to the firefighter sector to be women by 2013; and

* for ethnic minority recruitment - either recruitment across the whole organisation to be at the same percentage as the minority ethnic representation in the local working population or a tougher target of 2 - 5 per cent above the percentage of the local population, also by 2013.

The Department is making £2million available to FRAs to help them reach the higher targets.

Speaking at the Local Government Association's (LGA) National Fire Conference in Bristol, Fire Minister Sadiq Khan said:

"I want to see real change in the Fire and Rescue Service in representation and attitudes. While the representation of women and minority ethnic groups has improved in recent years, much remains to be done.

"We should all want to attract the best recruits and not miss out on talent. It is right that the Fire and Rescue Service as a local employer has workforce which is reflective of the local population. This helps to increase the understanding and connection with all sections of the community and makes the service more effective in its work on fire safety and prevention.

"I want every FRS to engage with the support groups who represent the interests of so many people in the Service such as the Asian Fire Service Association, Networking Women in the Fire Service, and the National Disabled Fire Association, and to see FRS representation on the 2010 Stonewall Top 100 Employers list double from this year's achievement."

The Fire Minister also urged LGA members to continue to lead from the front, champion diversity, challenge discrimination and make a difference on the ground within the FRS. Sadiq Khan said:

"I know that the LGA is committed to promoting equality and diversity in the Fire and Rescue Service and to supporting FRAs with their work on the ground. The LGA's Equality and Diversity Charter for FRA members is a good example of showing political leadership on this issue by getting individual Councillors commitment to making a difference in a key area. If real and sustained progress is to be made, elected members will have to show clear leadership, champion diversity and not tolerate any form of discrimination, bullying or other unacceptable behaviour.

"I am pleased that the LGA has set an ambitious target of a 75 per cent sign up rate for their charter. I thank those members that have signed up, and urge others that have not done so, to sign up to the LGA charter of best practice. My challenge to you is to go back from this conference and make sure the charter is translating into a real difference on the ground within the FRS."

Copies of the Fire and Rescue Service Equality and Diversity Report 2009 are available at http://www.communities.gov.uk

Ends

posted by, Dizali Mentha

 

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