East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service firefighters, officers and support staff attended the Women in Fire Service National Training and Development weekend.

Held at the Fire Service College on 8-10 June 2018, its theme was ‘Building confidence for a stronger future’.

More than 210 delegates attended from over 25 National Fire & Rescue Service including international delegates from Northern Ireland, The Netherlands and Sweden.

The speakers at the Friday opening ceremony were Dany Cotton, Commissioner of London Fire Brigade and Moira Cameron, Yeoman Warder of the Tower of London – the UK’s first female beefeater.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service funded a number of places for staff.

Burwash Firefighter Antonia Price said: 

“This is the second year in a row I have attended the WFS weekend, I find the key note speeches thoroughly interesting and inspiring and the variety of workshops is just great. Everyone is so friendly and helpful it is such a great confidence boost and yet again I come away feeling like I can do anything I put my mind too.”

Practical sessions on offer included learning about fire behaviour, urban search and rescue, incident command and first aid skills.

Firefighter Anne Goldstone from Green Watch in Hastings said: 

“I took part in the advanced trauma training,  we were able to ask lots of questions and took part in practical scenarios , it was so nice to practice in a supportive and relaxed atmosphere with everyone encouraging each other and no test at the end. 
I also really enjoyed the fitness for women session ,which incorporated Body Balance , Yoga and Pilates , I came away with some new ideas to incorporate into my fitness  training.”

Elizabeth Curtis, Communications and Marketing Manager, attended a workshop to find out more about working in a control centre: 

“I came away with a greater understanding of what the role entails. I always knew our Sussex Control Centre team play a unique and important role in our service, but when I heard some of the real-life phone calls where operators had to give fire survival advice to panicking members of the public, my admiration for their hard work and dedication increased.”

There was also a range of other sessions aimed at widening people’s skills and improving well-being include reducing stress and sleeping well, authentic conversations and public speaking.

Both men and women were involved in the weekend – as delegates and instructors.

Nicky Thurston and Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mark Andrews took the opportunity to promote HeForShe. HeForShe is inviting people around the world to stand together to create gender equality. 

Mark said: 

“Firstly it was an excellent weekend with fire colleagues at the top of their game sharing experiences and ideas for the overall betterment of the fire and rescue service. It was also a great chance to highlight the important issue of gender equality through the HeForShe campaign which seeks to encourage us all to take steps to do more for equality. It was great to see so many colleagues – both male and female – bringing equality to life and getting involved in the weekend. Those I spoke to took a great deal of learning and confidence from the experience.”

About Women in the Fire Service

East Sussex Area Group Manager for Hastings and Rother Julie King is also Vice Chair of the Women in the Fire Service.

“I have had the pleasure of being part of the team who coordinate this amazing weekend experience for a number of years and I feel immensely proud of all those who help run the event, but also all the instructors that come along and make the workshops so interesting and challenging. However most of all I am delighted to hear delegates feedback after the sessions, listening to people being inspired and gaining in confidence has to be the ultimate compliment.”

The organisation is made up of individuals working in the Fire and Rescue Services, who share a vision for the future, and are proactive in making that vision a reality.

Its vision: To work with Fire and Rescue Services in developing a culture of equality of opportunity and to support all women in achieving their full potential within it.