Fire and rescue services across the country are trying to do more to encourage gender diversity within the industry, and there is one organisation that has been at the forefront of this. Women in the Fire Service UK’s (WFS) National Training and Development Event was held in June. The theme ‘See it Be it | Role Models for the Future’ aimed to focus on both looking forward to the future of female firefighters, but also reflecting on what we have learned so far.

Chair of WFS Julie King QFSM (also Assistant Director of People Services at East Sussex FRS), spoke of the event: “The energy and buzz that filled the event was so uplifting, and we’ve had really positive feedback. But what I think is most brilliant and powerful is the direct messages we’ve had separately since the event, stating how much confidence they have gained and how the event has had an impact on them. That’s what these events are about.

“We’ve already started to plan for our 2023 event and I would encourage delegates from throughout the industry – whatever role or service – to take part. Watch this space!”

Keynote speakers Antarctic Fire Angels, a group of five female firefighters featured previously in FIRE who are on a journey to eradicate gender stereotypes and increase awareness of poor mental health, spoke about the importance of these annual events: “We set up our exhibition stand allowing others to see our equipment and learn a little more about an expedition to Antarctica. We met so many like-minded people and were able to encourage others to take part in their own adventures across the UK.

“It was inspiring to see so many in the fire and rescue industry coming together and celebrating what is great about the people that we work with and give us role models for the future.”

Not only did the workshops focus increasing knowledge on a variety of topics – from abseiling (hosted by Devon and Somerset FRS), to an introduction to fire safety in commercial buildings (facilitated by Lancashire FRS) – they also ventured into stereotypically taboo and possibly even ‘non-starters’ in terms of watch culture. Thanks to London Fire Brigade, menopause, mental health and race were all featured and discussed.

There was also an opportunity to celebrate during the weekend as the 20th WFS Award Presentation was hosted. The five categories saw in a total of 60 nominations from across 25 FRS earlier this year. Congratulations to:

Women in the Fire Service UK 20th Award Presentation

  • Uroosa Arshid (Nottinghamshire FRS), Young Person Role Model Award
    Runner up – Faatimah Mangera (West Yorkshire FRS).
  • Rebecca Rowe (London Fire Brigade), Firefighter Rising Star Award
    Runner up – Katie Bluck (Mid and West Wales FRS)
  • Hannah Caulfield (Cheshire FRS), Exceptional Allies Award
    Runner up – Amy Croxton-Evans (North Wales FRS)
  • Liana Selecka-Jones (Cumbria FRS), Dany Cotton Inspiring Leader Award
    Runner up – Stefan Douglas (Northants FRS)
  • Sue Mallinson (Greater Manchester FRS) and Jenny Nangle (Lancashire FRS), Bright Light Award.

Congratulations to all recipients.