Published 8 March 2023

The National Fire Chiefs Council welcomes the ‘embracing equity’ message in support of International Women’s Day

NFCC Logo image

Today marks International Women’s Day and the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) will be joining fire services across the UK to celebrate and recognise the incredible work women across fire and rescue services carry out every day.

This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity, promoting a gender equal world, free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.

NFCC want to see more women and people from diverse backgrounds join the fire service in the wide range of roles available. NFCC is supporting fire services to be inclusive and welcoming places to work, ensuring that every woman in the fire service is able to realise their full potential and become future fire service leaders.

Latest Home Office statistics show that overall 18.6% of fire services employees are women, but only 8.2% (2,862) of firefighters are women.  While this has risen from 7.5% (2,644) in the previous year,  it is clear that much more needs to be done to ensure that women are better represented across the workforce, improving the recruitment, development, retention and support of women in the fire service.

NFCC Chair, Mark Hardingham, said: “A great fire and rescue service has diversity and inclusion at its core. Fire leaders across the country are driving forward changes to policies, practices, systems and traditions to ensure they are open and inclusive and that women are supported to succeed. But there is still so much more to do. We are committed to delivering the step change needed to ensure our culture is inclusive.

“International Women’s Day is an important day in the national calendar – it provides a platform to open up conversations and help create working environments that are diverse and inclusive; where difference in genders is valued; where we celebrate the important and valuable contribution that women make.  

“The public rightly expect inclusivity. This means that equality, diversity and inclusion is at the heart of every UK fire and rescue service, as is a commitment to openness and transparency. UK Fire and Rescue services are committed to working with staff, the public, communities, government, and more widely in supporting equality for women.”

Kathryn Billing, NFCC Executive Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said: “On International Women’s Day we aim of course to celebrate the achievements of women. It is also a time to highlight the harassment and discrimination which many women face; sadly this is more relevant today in our sector than it has ever been.

“NFCC is clear change must happen and will embrace equity as this year’s theme, the time for change and ensuring equity for women is most definitely now.”

Following the publication of the Independent Culture Review into London Fire Brigade, and wider learning about the cultures across UK fire and rescue services, NFCC is hosting and leading a multi-stakeholder conference on Inclusion and Culture in the Fire and Rescue Service on 27 & 28 March 2023.