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Emergency services / Female firefighter recruitment event proves a success

Firefighters Amy Gerrard and Shetland group manager Matt Mason at Lerwick Fire Station on Friday. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

A RECENT recruitment event aiming at encouraging more women to apply to join the fire service in Shetland appears to be bearing fruit.

A total of 13 women attended an event at Lerwick Fire Station on Wednesday evening and the session has already resulted in a couple of folk applying to become a retained firefighter.

Shetland group manager Matt Mason said it is likely that more events will take place in the future due to its success.

The event was organised by Lerwick firefighter Amy Gerrard in response to a lack of women attending recent recruitment taster events, and it attracted people from all over the isles.

“This was the first session of its type and it won’t be the last, because it’s been so well attended,” Mason said.

The fire chief stressed that the event was not putting men who were considering joining the service at a disadvantage.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is an equal opportunities employer – we’re committed to that, but there has historically been issues around employing people from every walk of life,” he said.

“I think we’re not particularly representative nationally, so part of the work that Amy has done is try to adjust that imbalance.

“The session that she ran doesn’t give any female any leg-up. The best analogy we could get to was that we’re trying to get everybody to the start line, and the finish line is getting the job done. The best people will get the job. For some reason, we don’t appear to attract as many females as we’d like to the start line.”

At the moment there are 14 female firefighters in Shetland, but there are scores of vacancies at stations across the isles.

Gerrard said that if there is anyone considering joining the fire service, “they just need to go for it”.

“They’ve got nothing to lose by applying,” she said.

“I think what they will realise is that they’ll probably be a lot better at the physical side than they maybe think they are. Once you pass the practical selection test, everyone does the same level. Females don’t get an easier shot at it.

“If they like a challenge, working as part of a team and giving something back to their community, they can apply via the myjobscotland website.”