News from Caroline Russell: Positive action won for London firefighter diversity

07 September 2016

Responses to questions today in the London Assembly add further support for a temporary change in the law to boost women and minority ethnic numbers in London’s emergency services.

Today, Caroline Russell AM questioned the London Fire Brigade Commissioner Ron Dobson and LFEPA Chair Fiona Twycross AM about the diversity of the London Fire Brigade (LFB) and whether it reflected London’s population.

In response to questions, the Commissioner agreed that the LFB workforce does not fully reflect the diversity of London, with operational staff consisting of just 7% women and just over 12% black and minority ethnic firefighters.

To tackle this, the Commissioner responded positively to suggestions that the service adopts targets for under-represented groups (women, BME, LGBT and disabled people) and that the LFB should re-join the Stonewall equality index

Most significantly, both the Commissioner and the Chair of LFEPA, Fiona Twycross AM, said they personally supported a temporary change in recruitment laws for London, in order to enable positive action in the recruitment of under-represented groups.

A temporary change to equalities laws, which allowed the use of positive action in the case of volume recruitment, was successful in diversifying the police in Northern Ireland and has already been backed in previous Assembly meetings by the Mayor and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Caroline Russell said:


“The London Fire Brigade has a long way to go before it reflects the diversity of London’s population and needs to do much more to tackle gender and BAME under-representation. I was encouraged by the Commissioner’s comments today and look forward to progress in getting London the positive action that is needed. Without decisive steps like this, we will never achieve equality at the current rate of progress.”


Notes to editors

Caroline is available for interview

According to LFEPA HR indicators operational staff in the London Fire Service are less than 7% are women and just over 12% are of a Black and Minority Ethnic background.  Page 226, LFEPA Resources Committee, 25 July 2016.

Video of today’s question session in City Hall with Caroline Russell:


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