Fire service staff call out online trolls
10 February 2020
South Yorkshire’s fire service is taking a stand against online trolls in a bid to show support to its staff, and communities, during LGBT+ History Month.
This comes in the form of a defiant new video launched on Monday 3 February and featuring some of the service’s employees.
It shows the staff members reading out some of the abusive, hurtful and homophobic comments made by people on Facebook after the organisation added a rainbow to its profile picture during Pride Month last June.
The service, which strives to be a diverse and inclusive employer, says it wants to show its LGBT+ staff, and communities, that they are valued and supported.
“We fully expect the video will have a mixed reaction but some of the comments we received last year were awful and totally unacceptable,” said chief fire officer Alex Johnson.
“We’ve produced it for two reasons – firstly we wanted to support the month and let our staff, and communities, know that we are proud to employ and serve them, regardless of those comments.
“And secondly we wanted to demonstrate that we are a genuinely inclusive organisation that values the contribution of all our staff, whatever their LGBT+ status.
“I’d encourage anyone considering a career in the fire service, especially those who may be inspired by our work around LGBT History Month, to register their interest on our website.”
Firefighters, control operators and support staff all feature in the video – which includes 11 employees reading 11 different comments.
The production is being supplemented by another video produced by the service, this one being specifically for staff and based on LGBT+ history.
Crew Manager Rebecca Savin, who is the South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union LGBT Rep, hopes that the service’s stance will not only allow staff to bring their authentic selves to work but also encourage more people from the LGBT+ community to consider fire service careers.
She said: “We’ve come a long way recently in terms of diversity but there’s still more to do. It really is important that our workforce truly represents all of the communities we serve and visible acts of support like this can mean a lot to sometimes marginalised groups.
“From a staff perspective I’m really pleased with the video. It’s great that, as an employer, SYFR wants to challenge these comments and stand up for its staff and the people it serves.”