The Fire & Rescue Services are launching newly designed uniforms, including fire-fighting gear to better fit women, hijab and turban options, long-sleeved shirts, long skirts and maternity wear.
Fire Minister Sadiq Khan said:
“We want the widest range of applicants to apply to join the Fire and Rescue Service. To do achieve this it is important that all applicants – men and women – know that the uniform and clothing they will be issued with, will not only protect them but will also fit properly and be comfortable. The introduction of more appropriately fitted clothing is just one initiative to help to both retain female firefighters and encourage others to consider a fire service career.
“Fire prevention is vitally important today as we continue the aim of driving down fire deaths. To achieve this, the FRS needs employees from all ethnic groups to reflect the diversity of our communities. This will enable better mutual understanding when the FRS undertake fire safety visits. The uniform now available shows that cultural beliefs are being recognised, as we seek to increase the representation of ethnic minorities within service.
“We ask a great deal of our firefighters every day, and their professionalism was again called upon in the testing. I want to thank all who were involved in the rigorous trials and tendering process.”
Some more quotes:
Jagtar Singh OBE national spokesperson for the Asian Fire Service Association commented:
“AFSA are pleased to note that the Fire Service is now taking seriously the issues of culture and religious belief when purchasing corporate and protective clothing for firefighters. This can only help to support the service to recruit more BME men and women.”
Nicola Lown from Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service said:
“The uniform was comfortable in its entirety and the trousers, for once, fitted well!”
Lincolnshire FRS is the first to purchase the clothing. Lincolnshire’s Chief Fire Officer Mike Thomas said:
“Having been involved in the development of this clothing project I have been particularly impressed with the robust and extensive garment trials and the development of the national identity. I look forward to seeing my operational firefighters protected to the best standards available with clothing that is clearly fit for purpose, suitable for all staff. The clothing presents a positive image of the modern fire and rescue service.”
The Fire service has just recently announced targets to increase the number of women recruited to 15% by 2013 – in 2008 the figure was 9.2% – and make sure the number of men and women recruited from ethnic minorities reflects the local demographics.