Burning desire to get more females in the fire service - the second Have a Go day for women is launched

Chloe Housden tries her hand at being a firefigher at last year's Have A Go day

Chloe Housden tries her hand at being a firefigher at last year's Have A Go day - Credit: Archant

Efforts to encourage more women to become fire fighters are being stepped up after Cambridgeshire fire bosses admitted recruitment progress has been slow.

Have a Go day for women at Cambs Fire and Rescue

Have a Go day for women at Cambs Fire and Rescue - Credit: Archant

Fire chiefs admit, in a report out this week, that even those women who do join up are reluctant to apply for senior posts.

“Progress in developing women operational staff into more senior roles is disappointing with only 0.5 per cent operational management roles held by women,” says the report to the fire authority overview and scrutiny committee.

“This is a reduction from the previous year, attributable to retirement and resignation of two long-serving women crew commanders.”

The report says that difficulties recruiting women are both historical and complex - the first women firefighters were employed in the 1970s.

Fire recruits 2015

Fire recruits 2015 - Credit: Archant


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“In those early days there were undeniable challenges facing women in a role that was historically seen as ‘male’”, says the report.

Cambs fire has actively sought to recruit women into the service but even those that do sign up seem reluctant to apply for more senior roles.

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The service is now trying to work out the barriers stopping women from progressing their career.

The report found that while there are less women firefighters there are more in the support and office roles - an area which is under represented by men.

Chloe Housden tries her hand at being a firefigher at last year's Have A Go day

Chloe Housden tries her hand at being a firefigher at last year's Have A Go day - Credit: Archant

For example of 129 whole time firefighters, only ten are women and none of these are managers.

When it comes to on-call firefighters there are 157 men and 10 women. Additionally there are 77 male managers in the on call area but no women managers.

Equal pay

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service report

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service report - Credit: Archant

The report concludes that in four areas – mainly higher management- there are inequalities of pay. In one case the wage difference was 11 per cent.

However this can in part be attributed to the fact that men tend to have longer periods of service.

The report adds: “Current practices and pay policy need to be reviewed to ensure consistency and this is planned for 2016 to 2017.”

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service report

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service report - Credit: Archant

Recruitment

In 2014/15 the number of women applying to join Cambs Fire and Rescue on call section rose from seven to 14 per cent – the first time in five years it has seen an increase.

However, while many women passed the selection process only half of them in the last two years completed their training course compared to 72 per cent of men.

“This needs further investigation to understand the reasons for losing recruits at this early stage,” the report said.

“There has been a deliberate focus on improving the diversity of applicants to the on-call duty system where there is an acknowledged difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff.”

The number of women applying for whole time fire fighter posts stands at 7.5 per cent.

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