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New stats show an increase in female firefighters

05 November 2019

LATEST FIGURES published by the Home Office show an increase in the number of female firefighters working for Fire and Rescue Services, which has been welcomed by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).

The figures cover the period from April 2018 to March 2019 and this is the first time since 2009 that the percentage increase has not been due to a decrease in the number of male firefighters (often due to retirement or finding other work).

The increase in the number of female firefighters now means 6.4 per cent of firefighters are women, compared to just 3.6 per cent in 2009. And during 2018/19, 16.6 per cent of new firefighters joining fire and rescue services were women.

In addition, the number of all female staff employed by fire and rescue authorities (as at March 31st 2019) was 16.7 per cent, which compares to 14.6 per cent ten years ago.

There has been a small increase in firefighters from ethnic minority groups (4.3% from 4.1% in the previous year). All fire service staff from ethnic minority groups stands at 5 per cent, which is an increase from 4.7 per cent in the previous year.

Unfortunately the workforce the statistics also reveal that attacks on firefighters have increased by three per cent over the last 12 months. There were 961 incidents recorded, the highest number since data collection in this area began in 2010/11.  This is not a complete picture as these statistics only cover incidents where firefighters are attending an emergency call.

Chair of the NFCC, Roy Wilsher, commented: “I am pleased to see this increase in female staff across fire and rescue services. It is really encouraging to see for the first time since 2009, that this increase is not due to male firefighters leaving the service.

“There is much still to do but the number of new female firefighter is also on the increase which is pleasing to see. It goes to show we are increasing diversity across services and services are therefore recruiting from all sections of society and attracting the best talent. This is a clear indicator that people see the role of a firefighter as a job for all. We still have a long way to go but those latest statistics are an encouraging step in the right direction.”

However, Mr Wilsher voiced his anger that attacks on firefighters are on the increase: “While the Home Office workforce statistics show some encouraging signs, I am appalled to see that the number of attacks on firefighters are the highest since records began. The reported figures are likely to be less than the actual attacks which take place.

“While longer prison sentences have been introduced for attacks on emergency service workers, this does not seem to have any impact on the number of attacks. Emergency services staff often put their own lives in danger in the line of duty and any sort of attack is absolutely disgusting.”