The government is to create a national equality and diversity strategy for the Fire and Rescue Service, mirroring attempts to improve levels of ethnic minority representation in the police.
The minister responsible, Angela Smith, said all Fire and Rescue Service’s will be expected to report annually on how many members of staff came from ethnic minority backgrounds.
The strategy will be included in a forthcoming National Framework and will be a part of the Audit Commission’s performance assessment framework for the Fire and Rescue Service.
The announcement comes in the government’s response to the House of Commons select committee report on the Fire and Rescue Service, which called for greater diversity in the service.
The report stated that to reduce “the devastating impact of fire” the service needed to actively seek to understand and respond to the needs of all communities and could only do so if it reflects those communities through the diversity of its staff.
Smith said the new strategy would launched following consultation Fire and Rescue Service employers, the Local Government Association, the Chief Fire Officers Association and the employees’ representative organisations.
“As recommended by the [House of Commons] committee, a national equality and diversity adviser will be appointed,” Smith said. “We will work through the new Centre for Leadership at the Fire Service College to drive culture change by creating leaders at all levels who are committed to equality and diversity and embed it into all aspects of their role.”
Setting race targets for police has led to controversy after some forces were found to be positively discriminating in their attempts to hit their diversity targets.