Fire service plans to improve gay representation

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A framework document on the future of the fire and rescue service is set to include plans to improve the representation of the LGB community.

How the service is to “meet the challenges of the coming years” is laid out in two important consultation documents published by the Department for Communities and Local Government today.

Currently less than 0.5% of the fire service are openly lesbian, gay or bixexual, equivalent to less than 270 people.

Nationwide, 7% of the working population identify themselves as LGB.

The government is seeking the views of the fire and rescue service, its partners and employees on the content of the framework before a final version is published in spring 2008.

Speaking at the Fire Conference 2007, Fire Minister Parmjit Dhanda said:

“The national framework sets out our vision for the fire and rescue service over the next few years.

“One vital component is to ensure that the service has a workforce that is more representative of the local communities it serves.

“Equality and diversity strategy will involve everyone and be relevant to everybody in the service.”

Key objectives of the equality and diversity strategy will be the achievement of fairness, inclusion, dignity and respect in all parts of the workplace, and to effectively tackle bullying, harassment and discrimination.

In England the fire and rescue service employs 54,000 staff. 13% cent of all FRS staff are women, but operational representation stands at 2.8%. 3% cent of all staff are from minority backgrounds.

The government consultation comes after a recent conference held in Bristol entitled “Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender Equality in the Fire Service – An Absolute Taboo?”

Last month’s two-day event, which was organised by Avon Fire Rescue Service, was hailed a success.

Gay equality organisation Stonewall worked in partnership with the Fire Brigades Union on the conference in Bristol.

Representatives from the London Fire Brigade, the Chief Fire Officers Association, West Yorkshire Fire Service and the Scottish Transgender Alliance spoke at the event.

The 210 delegates also took part in workshops and sharing examples of best practice with each other.

The government consultations can be found here.