A great deal has been written about equality and diversity in the fire and rescue service. There is no doubt that much has changed within the service; the recruitment figures are a clear indicator that there is still a great to do if the fire and rescue service is to be representative of the community it serves.

The enigma that faces the service is that although it is highly regarded by people throughout society, only a narrow band of people see it as a career of choice.

This could be due to many reasons including the culture to be found within the service and the nature of working relationships to be found on fire stations. The opportunities for promotion and development are not well known outside the service and this could lead to the job being seen as one of firefighting only, when in fact there are many avenues by which to make progress.

This work makes a valuable contribution to the debate on equality and diversity and will help to give direction to the action that is necessary if it is to be truly said that the Fire and Rescue Service represents today’s society.

Sir Graham Meldrum
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire Services for England and Wales