The county’s fire service has been recognised for promoting and progressing equality, diversity and inclusion and inciting change in the sector.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service collected second place in the Asian Fire Service Association (AFSA) national award for excellence in board leadership in equality, diversity and inclusion at the national annual conference awards on June 13th.

The Service has been awarded the accolade for demonstrating strategic and operational awareness and understanding of how to challenge, promote and advance equality, diversity and inclusion at senior levels of the organisation and in doing so, stimulating change, demonstrating visionary leadership, capacity, capability and a strong commitment to making things happen.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Andrew Hopkinson collected the award with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Authority’s (BFRA) new Chair Cllr John Chatterley at the event in London, presented to them by footballing legend John Barnes.

DCFO Hopkinson said: “This national accolade reflects that not only do we do the basics when it comes to championing diversity, but we really go above and beyond, from the frontline to the board room. It recognises our continued efforts to be an employer of choice and is testament to the excellent efforts of our staff.

AFSA Award“There is always more we can do and whilst there are local and national expectations around improving diversity within the fire and rescue service, we are truly committed to supporting our diverse communities in Bedfordshire, as well as ensuring our existing staff and those who may want to work for us understand we are dedicated to diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace.”

The Service has run a number of internal initiatives, including launching an inclusion forum for staff, alongside running a marketing campaign to ensure the role of a firefighter can be understood and accessed by those from underrepresented groups. It has also completed an accessibility review of all its properties in a bid to make improvements for those who use its estate.

Cllr John Chatterley, Chair of BFRA, added: “It was a pleasure to attend my first AFSA conference with the DCFO and I was delighted to learn we had been recognised in this way.”

BFRS was pipped to the post by winners Kent Fire and Rescue Service, and was followed in third position by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service.