Following recent media reports, we emphatically reject unsubstantiated claims that our recruitment of the best firefighters for the West Midlands is discriminatory.
We always have high numbers of people wanting to join us as firefighters. This enables us to apply a high pass mark to attract the best candidates. All of our new entrants have attained high levels of performance and should be proud of their skills and ability.
When appropriate we can select people from groups that are under-represented in our workforce. We do this with application of contemporary legislation (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/159)
We are committed to a having a workforce that reflects the diversity of our communities, and one that is welcoming to all. We are proud of our recruitment and selection processes. We work hard to break down barriers faced by people within our local community who could bring so much to our service and to their community as firefighters.
In our strategic plan, which is available to read on our website www.wmfs.net, we clearly state: ‘Through an approach known as ‘positive action’ we will attract, recruit and support progression for individuals with protected characteristics’.
Our work to attract more firefighters who are women or from minority backgrounds has been praised by the Government. We are ranked 2nd in the latest Top 50 UK Employers List, recognising our commitment to workplace diversity.
The National Fire Chiefs Council has given its support to us taking positive action in regard to employing a diverse workforce.
Ann Millington, Chair of NFCC’s Workforce Coordination Committee, said: “NFCC is supportive of fire services using positive action in certain circumstances. Currently there is a government drive to increase diversity across the fire service, which NFCC has helped to develop.
“Nationally, 5.2% of firefighters in England are women and 3.9% are from an ethnic minority background (BAME). This is not reflective of the communities fire services represent. We want to create a service which is accessible to all, regardless of gender, background and ethnicity.
“While we are seeing numbers from under-represented groups increase, it is essential that work underway continuously builds on this to develop a representative fire service.”