Equality, diversity and inclusion in the fire service

We are looking at ways to increase our diversity within the fire service.

There is enormous strength in diversity. Bringing people together from across a wide range of social and cultural experiences and backgrounds enables us to broaden our perspectives, enhance our understanding and enrich our way of life. It fosters an inclusive and supportive environment, which lends strength and vitality to communities and this enables individuals to meet their potential.

Nationally, the fire and rescue service is going through a period of significant change and we need to ensure that our workforce is able to adjust to these changes and contribute innovatively. Our plans for the last three years was to increase our diversity within our operational staff, as we recognise that diversity helps to increase creativity and innovation, and ultimately supports better decision making and improvements. By reflecting the communities that we serve, helps to break down barriers and results in improved relationships with our communities. We still have a long way to go in this area however currently 8 per cent of our operational workforce are women, just under 2 per cent are from the BAME community and just under 2 per cent are from the LGBTQ+ community.  

Our Community Risk Management Plan 2022-2026 outlines what we will do over the next four years to contribute towards service improvement for Oxfordshire residents. In this document, we have set some strategic objectives that focus on people. In this, we are committed to continuing with our work to pursue a more inclusive culture and a more diverse workforce so we can represent the community we serve and staff can fulfil their potential. 

Our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Framework: Including Everyone (pdf format, 4.5Mb) focuses on protecting the diverse strengths of individuals and building inclusive communities.  We support this framework and strive to deliver the objectives outlined in the document: 

  • making sure we are being fair to everyone 
  • give everyone the same fair chance to make the most of their lives 
  • build strong communities where everyone feels included.

We embrace equality, diversity and inclusion; valuing the difference in others. We always act with integrity, working in honest, ethical and supportive ways, building effective relationships; we trust each other to do what we promise.

Statement from our Chief Fire Officer, Rob MacDougall

We work to protect our communities, reduce harm and save lives. As an organisation, we help support Oxfordshire to be an exciting, forward-looking county where everyone has a chance to thrive. To do this well we want to be an inclusive place where everyone can be themselves and shine.

Diversity - We serve diverse communities with a diverse range of demands and challenges. We want a diverse workforce that can help us to better understand our communities and bring a diversity of thought, views, experiences and ideas. This leads to a culture of innovation, collaboration and learning which helps us to find the best ways to deliver and improve our services across Oxfordshire.

Inclusion - We understand that inclusive workplaces perform better and included communities can be supported better. We want to be a service where everyone can be their best, a place where they belong rather than a place where they fit in.

Equality and equity - We want to lead the way in ensuring everyone has equality of opportunity and is protected against all forms of discrimination. We all have a part to play in making this happen, both in the services we deliver and in the fair and inclusive workplace we create.

We are proud of our staff and proud to support our staff networks. We know we do not have all the answers, so we are committed to listening and learning, continuously improving and taking actions together to create an even better service for our employees and for everyone across Oxfordshire.

Bronze award for our commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion at work

In March 2022, we proudly received a Stonewall bronze award for our commitment and efforts to become an LGBTQ+ employer. The award is part of Stonewall’s ‘Bring Yourself to Work’ campaign, developed by the LGBTQ+ equality charity to highlight the importance of inclusive work environments. We have been recognised for our commitment to the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning/queer people in the workplace. 

Read more about the award on our news website.

Staff networks 

Our staff networks work to support colleagues, raise awareness, impact-assess decision making and enable innovative approaches to make our organisation stronger. Our networks include:

  • The REACH (Race Equality and Cultural Heritage) Network 
  • LGBTIQ+ Awareness Network
  • Disability and Wellbeing Network (DAWN) 
  • Christian Network Group