Brigade tackles racism problem

The London Fire Brigade is recruiting an equality manager in its push to
weed out racism and bullying and improve the ethnic mix of its workforce.

The individual will report directly to the chief executive. He or she will
take the helm on schemes to boost recruitment from black and Asian communities,
and to educate its workforce on equality and race issues.

A damning report published by the Home Office last September found racism is
rife in the service nationally. Yet it has had none of the publicity that the
police force has been exposed to in the wake of the Lawrence inquiry.

Figures from 1998 show that of a national workforce of more than 48,000 firefighters,
only 513 were from ethnic minorities.

Brigades have been set a target for their workforces to reflect the ethnic
mix of the local population within 10 years.

The London brigade has achieved its required 25 per cent among the 1,000
support staff, but only 4 per cent of its 6,000 fire fighters are from ethnic
minorities. "On the operational side we have a long way to go, but we are
doing a lot of work to move us forward," said Andy Chanin, head of the
chief executive’s office.

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