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Women make up less than 4% of Norfolk's firefighters

Women make up less than 4% of Norfolk's firefighters

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Katie Williams
12:15pm 11th March 2020. (Updated at 12:25pm 11th March 2020)

Less than 4% of firefighters in Norfolk are female.

New data from the Home Office shows that despite this, females are still better represented than they were five years ago.

There are calls for fire and rescue services across the country to challenge “age-old stereotypes” to change the public’s perception of the role. 

Breaking down those numbers, in 2019 there were 25 female firefighters in the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, compared with 703 men.

That means just 3.4% of Norfolk's operational workforce are women.

That’s well behind the National average of 6.4%.

Back in 2014, however, the number was even lower at 2.4%.

Volunteer-led organisation Women in the Fire Service UK says even though there are more female firefighters than there used to be, more work needs to be done to promote firefighting as a career for women.

A WFS UK spokesperson said: 

“The general public don’t give much consideration to the gender of firefighters.

"All they are concerned about is that when they call 999 requesting the fire service, that help arrives in the form of professional firefighters.

"Do they see the people inside the uniform, under the helmet, behind the visors?

"When asked, many young people guess the gender statistics to be more 50-50 and when told it's 94 to 6 are visibly shocked.

"Unfortunately, it’s down to education. Many still see the role of a firefighter as a 'fireman' – someone who will be a hero and throw you over his shoulder and bring you out of a burning building as in films, but this is not how modern fire and rescue services operate."

Last year, seven women joined the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service as firefighters, alongside 61 men. 

A spokesperson for the National Fire Chiefs Council said: 

“There is much still to do with regard to recruitment across the fire service, however statistics do show that the number of new female firefighters is on the increase.

"It goes to show we are increasing diversity and services are therefore recruiting from all sections of society and attracting the best talent. 

"This is a clear indicator that people see the role of a firefighter as a job for all."

A Home Office spokesperson said it is working with fire and rescue authorities to "ensure they are recruiting from the broadest possible talent pool."

“The Home Office and National Fire Chiefs Council have launched a national awareness campaign to encourage people from all backgrounds to consider a role in the fire sector."