The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has welcomed double the number of firefighter applications from women, ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community compared to previous years, latest figures reveal.
The Service launched a wholetime firefighter recruitment campaign in April which saw the overall number of applicants rise by almost 25 per cent – from 4,373 previously to a total of 6,075.
And this included 771 applications from women compared to just 360 previously.
It also saw 403 people from the LGBTQ+ community submit applications compared to the previous 168 with 157 applications from those within the ethnic community compared to the previous 69.
As a result, almost a quarter of the 84 new firefighters who began their exhaustive 14-week training course last month are female.
The applications were shortlisted “blindly” by hand – meaning no identifying data was made available such as names, gender, age, ethnicity or sexuality.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Liz Barnes congratulated all of the success recruits.
She said: “We received a very high volume of applications and we were clear from the outset that there were no quotas here and that no one had any advantage.
“It was vital that applicants hit a very high standard for their applications to be accepted. Those who were successful should be thoroughly proud of themselves.
“We also encouraged under-represented groups to apply and the figures show that we have taken another step forward as an organisation in reflecting the very rich and diverse communities we serve.”
She added: “Our process is designed to ensure a level playing field from the outset.
“Our standards have never changed, and they are high – but if you have what it takes, then we will help you get there.”
At present less than five per cent of Scotland’s firefighters identify as women, and less than one per cent identify as belonging to an ethnic minority.
Ms Barnes added: “We are committed to ensuring that this Service is as open and inclusive as possible and we will continue to take all available steps to ensure our current workforce is supported to be who they truly are in the workplace.
“For example, we are very proud to be a Stonewall Diversity Champion in Scotland.”
A total of 304 applicants were successful and will undergo training in batches over the next year.
The first intake of 84 new firefighters, including 31 women, began their 14-week course at SFRS’ dedicated training centres in Cambuslang and Thornton this month.
During the course they will not only learn how to tackle fires effectively and safely, they will also learn essential skills such as trauma management, road traffic collisions, safe working at height and ladder skills.
And after passing out, they will have the opportunity to move forwards and specialise in areas such as water and rope rescue, HAZMAT and community safety.
Ms Barnes added: “My congratulations go out to everyone who has been successful in their application – this is an extremely rewarding career and they are joining the Service at an exciting time.
“Not only will they learn how to fight fires and respond to incidents such as road traffic collisions, we are also seeking to train our firefighters to meet the risks a modern Scotland faces.
“This includes the impacts of climate change – such as severe flooding – and helping to keep the most vulnerable members of our communities safe in their homes.
“This community work is vital to how we intend to continue protecting Scotland, and as such it incredibly important that we properly represent our incredibly diverse culture.”
Ms Barnes continued: “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank each person who applied – and I would ask them not to be discouraged from applying again in future.”
While recruitment for wholetime firefighters is currently closed, the Service continues to recruit for retained and volunteer firefighters across Scotland, as well as positions for support staff.
For more information, visit: https://www.myjobscotland.gov.uk/emergency-services/scottish-fire-and-rescue-service/jobs