'I'm fairly gobsmacked': Surprise survey findings show nearly a quarter of people disagree that Warwickshire's fire service should reflect the diverse community it serves

County's fire chief said: “In some ways I was encouraged that there was some pushback around that because it justifies why we are doing what we are doing"

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 11:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 11:16 am

A Leamington councillor admits she was 'gobsmacked' by the findings of a survey carried out by the county’s fire service.

Five proposals that will help form the basis of a five-year management plan were put out to consultation and the 163 replies came from members of the public and current or former employees of Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The majority of respondents were in favour but the least popular was one stating that the service should ‘ensure our workforce and ethos reflect the diverse communities we serve’ with nearly a quarter disagreeing.

A Leamington councillor admits she was 'gobsmacked' by the findings of a survey carried out by the county’s fire service.

Cllr Sarah Boad (Lib Dem, Leamington North), who is also a district and town councillor, said: “I have to say I am fairly gobsmacked at that.

“This is the one that had the biggest number of people against it with 22 per cent either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.

“It is interesting that when we discussed this at Leamington Town Council, which is a very diverse place, comments were made as to the lack of diversity in the fire service and I was able to put my fellow councillors right.

“I am really quite perturbed that this is the one that had the most opposition because you would presume you would want to see a fire service that reflected the diversity. When they say diversity I guess they are probably thinking mainly about ethnicity rather than anything else and it might be that you had more responses from very white parts of the county.”

Other responses were more positive and more than two thirds (72%) stated the proposals would help the fire service prepare for fire-related risks and issues over the next five years.

Chief fire officer Kieran Amos told yesterday's (Tuesday's) Warwickshire County Council resources and fire and rescue overview and scrutiny meeting: “In some ways I was encouraged that there was some pushback around that because it justifies why we are doing what we are doing.

“It is such a broad spectrum - equality, diversity and inclusion. There is a need to have broader conversations both in our organisation and society. I by no means think that our fire and rescue service is institutionally racist, far from it.

“It is really important that we maintain a position where anybody in our community who is looking at its fire and rescue service as a potential employer sees us as an organisation that they would want to come and work in and that they would feel safe in and supported.”