At Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, we believe it is essential to embed our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion into every aspect of our work. This is a dual responsibility applying to both to our outward facing, community-focussed activities, and also to our internal responsibilities to people and volunteers. Our vision is that everyone representing Surrey Fire and Rescue Service will be an ambassador for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
We recognise there is progress still to be made, and that as a workforce we are not yet representative of the communities we serve. We must channel our efforts towards fostering an inclusive culture underpinned by the principles of fairness and respect, where our people feel empowered and supported to raise constructive challenge.
We aim to extend beyond the letter of the law to achieve an equal, diverse and inclusive service. In order to do so we will constantly evaluate our approach and will invite challenge and feedback from our people, communities and partners. We will value the guidance of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, in addition to benchmarking our work against comparable organisations and self-assessing our progress against the Fire and Rescue Service's equality framework.
We aim to build on the work already done, in addition to realising new ambitions and meeting new challenges.
To support our inclusive environment we are/have:
- Created a Service Fairness and Respect group aligned to our Fairness and Respect Policy to engage with our employees on key issues which affect staff and how we can improve them.
- Set up our Fitness. Future. Family. Campaign to support individuals wishing to join our Service
- Designing Inclusion training for staff in conjunction with the Diocese of Guildford's faith Adviser
- Become a Corporate member of the Women in the Fire Service association
- Become a member of the Asian Fire Services Association
- Become a member of pride in Surrey
- Started a deaf/BSL Employee Network
- Started a LGBT+ network group
- Wrapping our vehicles with equality and diversity messaging
We know we have more work to do so here are some of the things we are working on:
- Setting up a Fire Cadets in conjunction with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Programme by the end of the year
- Working with Surrey Police to fight hate crime and make Fire Stations 'safe havens' for victims of Hate Crime
- Engaging with schools and public Service colleges
- Setting up internal training on Inclusion for all staff
- Reviewing how we carry out Equality Impact Assessments (EIA)
- Further collaborate with a broad range of partners to engage with our local communities, helping us to understand the diverse needs of the people we serve so we can tailor our services and safety initiatives to those who need them most.
- Provide learning and development opportunities including tailored equality and diversity training, to further develop an inclusive culture and to equip our people with the skills, knowledge and support to successfully deliver their roles.
As a public service we also have a responsibility under the Equality Act 2010 to pay due regard to equality in all the decisions we make and the functions we carry out. We have a public duty to:
- Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation
- Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don't
- Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who don't.
SFRS Positive Action Statement of intent
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service aims to make Surrey safer – and to provide the best possible service to the residents of Surrey that we can. To achieve that we will recruit the very best people to work for us in every role, across the Service whether this be Response, Community Resilience or Learning and Development.
We will employ people who are diverse in their thinking. Different backgrounds, experiences, life skills and approaches will expand our thinking and operations, and enable us to more flexibly design, plan and deliver our service.
Our aspiration is for our workforce to be more reflective of the diverse individuals and groups within the wider community we serve. We are passionate in our belief that a diverse workforce will enable us to deliver a better service and make Surrey even safer. Therefore, we actively encourage diverse candidates to consider and apply for a career with us.
We will offer support to diverse applicants prior to the process, especially in operational roles where fitness is clearly a consideration given the nature of firefighting.
Some people may never consider the fire service as a career. Others do not think the role of a firefighter is something they can do or worry they may not fit in.
We are changing the way we attract and recruit candidates to debunk these myths and ensure SFRS is seen as an employer of choice by, as well as for, all members of our community.
What is Positive Action?
If an organisation can show it is under-represented within particular groups, under the Equality Act 2010 it can carry out what is known as 'positive action' to encourage applications from people in those groups.
Positive action is very different from positive discrimination, which gives preferential treatment to people from particular groups, to ensure greater numbers of those people succeed. Surrey Fire and Rescue Service does not advocate or participate in such activities, which are unlawful in the UK.
However, we can and will target our communications to underrepresented groups to encourage them to apply for employment. In our case women are significantly under represented among our firefighters as are people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups.
We can also run events like 'Have a Go' days, to encourage underrepresented groups to have a go at key firefighting skills, as well as supporting skills in completing application forms and developing interview techniques.
When any recruitment process opens then all candidates, including those who have been involved in positive action events and activity, must apply for roles at the same time and be considered with all other applicants
Our recruitment will always be open to everyone – and all who apply will have to go through the same selection processes and reach the same standards.
All Surrey Fire and Rescue Service staff are, and always will be, the very best candidates available, and are appointed absolutely and solely on merit.