vijMore than one hundred delegates have helped support the role of women in the Service at the National Training and Development Weekend with Woman in the Fire Service, UK (WFS, UK).

The focus for the event was 'Empowering through development, moving forward together'. The delegates came from 26 UK Fire and Rescue Services, as well as police, NHS and international delegates from The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.

The event took place at the Fire Service College where delegates participated in a wide range of workshops which included: Multi incident scenarios; USAR; Incident Command; Be a firefighter; Drive an appliance; Presentation skills; Self-promotion; Assertiveness; Fire Investigation; Change; Career development; MFTA; Leadership; Voice projection and a very energetic Fitness in the Fire Service.

The weekend incorporated the WFS Awards presentation to recipients who were able to attend - Silver to former CFOA President Vij Randeniya (pictured) and Bronze to Julie Johnston. Gold Awards will be presented to John Bonney and Mani Gilbert-King in due course.

Chair of WFS, Dany Cotton said: “This is the first weekend under the new purple branding of WFS, so we have new banners, shirts and a new approach. It’s been a brilliant weekend with the Fire Service College proving to be an ideal venue as everyone can stay on site and the training facilities are amazing and top notch! The feedback from the candidates has also been fantastic. People coming out of the classroom workshops have been saying how much they have learned and are sharing. They wanted the workshops to go on all day!

“Operationally people are having a go at things they never would never have had the opportunity to do before and really experience what different roles entail whilst understanding some of the difficulties. The weekend brings a greater understanding of how the Fire Service works for both uniformed and support staff. The cross-sharing of information is fabulous.

“We’ve also raised the profile of the WFS with the Fire Service College and other organisations – so it’s just fantastic. Delegates are all smiling and there is a real buzz. Everyone is coming away with new friends, a boost of confidence and a feeling of being recharged.”

Attending WFS has encouraged international delegate, Suzanne Klatt to set up a similar network in Germany where she is a whole-time Area Manager. Suzanne said: “It’s really important to have such a network as WFS as in Germany women are still a minority in the fire service.

“When a woman is the only female on a fire station we sometimes miss another woman to support us and give feedback from a female viewpoint, as the guys on the station have a different perspective. The percentage of woman in the Fire Service in Germany is about 8% in the volunteer section and 2% in the career Fire Service - so a big difference.

“This is my sixth event and it’s always a great weekend. I love to be able to meet up with people I know again and exchange news. These events are important and long may they last as long as we need them. One day we may not!”

Next year’s WFS is planned for 12th, 13th and 14th June 2015 at the Fire Service College. WFS is looking for volunteers to facilitate future workshops, if your interested contact Karen Smith at khsmith@tiscali.co.uk.