Oxford,
16
March
2020
|
12:38
Europe/London

Oxfordshire’s firefighters promote diversity in new wholetime (fulltime) recruitment campaign

Oxfordshire’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer, and Banbury's fire station manager are determined to improve diversity in the Fire Service. They are fronting its new wholetime (fulltime) recruitment campaign, launched today, Monday 16 March. (Scroll right to play/download audio-file interviews if viewing on a computer. Or if on a mobile phone, scroll to bottom of page)

Oxfordshire’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Jo Bowcock

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Jo Bowcock - Assistant Chief Fire Officer

Oxfordshire’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Jo Bowcock, shares her vision of a Fire Service that reflects the make-up of Oxfordshire’s diverse communities.

“Our staff come from all walks of life, regardless of sex, religion or ethnicity,” says Jo.

“What they all have in common is self-reliance, confidence, respect, enthusiasm, team spirit and a willingness to be ready for anything when they are alerted to an emergency.”

Jo joined the fire service 17 years ago, in 2003, after graduating from university.

She explains: “After university I was looking for something to challenge me; not necessarily sat behind a desk all day.

“I’ve always enjoyed being fit and active. I needed something where I could do things that kept me fit, whilst making a difference to the community. A career in the fire service seemed the perfect fit.”

Jo’s career progression shows what is possible for anyone with ambition and aspirations in senior leadership:

“I joined as a firefighter, moving quickly up the ranks to a supervisory role; then undertaking a variety of middle manager roles, including a national three-year secondment with the National Fire Chiefs Council. And since 2019, I've been Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Oxfordshire.”

Making a difference is extremely important to her:

“Knowing you and your team have saved lives or a property; or helped someone to understand a fire risk and they’ve made the necessary changes. It leaves a real buzz. A fantastic sense of fulfilment.”

The Oxfordshire recruitment campaign explains that being a wholetime firefighter is more than a job – it is a varied career. From climbing the management ladder, like Jo, to specialising in a particular area such as community safety, training or fire protection. And being the best firefighter while bringing experience to the watch.

Jo sums up the diversity of the role: “It’s much more than putting out fires and cutting people out of cars. It’s about inspiring young minds, helping the community, becoming a role model, developing others, educating residents in fire and road safety, keeping them safe, protecting lives and saving people and animals.”

Wholetime firefighters need to be able to communicate with a range of different people, especially elderly residents, young adults and school children. They carry out presentations and talks, visit people's homes, talk to them and listen.

Jo’s advice to anyone thinking about applying to be a wholetime firefighter is:

“If you’re in two-minds on if this is the career for you… give it a go. You’ll be supported by a great training programme and a brilliant team. I’ve never looked back.”

Jo continues: “It’s really important that we have a mixed skill set. We want to recruit different, not just the stereotypical or what people perceive to be the stereotypical firefighter.

“I’m not your stereotypical firefighter, yet I feel I’ve contributed a huge amount to the role within the fire and rescue service.”

Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service is committed to achieving fairness and equality in employment and service delivery. They welcome applicants from all parts of the community, including women, BAME, LGBT+ and people who have certain disabilities.

For more information on becoming a wholetime firefighter, visit: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/wholetimefirefighters

 

Banbury’s fire station manager, Mike Clarke

 

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Mike Clarke - Station Manager

Banbury's fire station manager, Mike Clarke, is proud of the diversity in his team:

“We come from all walks of life, regardless of sex, religion or ethnicity. What we all have in common is self-reliance, confidence, respect, enthusiasm, team spirit and a willingness to be ready for anything when they are alerted to an emergency.”

Mike joined the fire service in 1996.

He said: “I wanted a job that was challenging, something that would be different every day, where I couldn’t predict what was coming next. I haven’t been disappointed.”

His career progression shows what is possible for anyone with ambition and leadership aspirations:

“I was a frontline firefighter for about three years, based at Luton fire station, before progressing to Leading Firefighter. Then I was promoted to Sub Officer as a training instructor, responsible for new recruits.

“I became a Station Manager in Bedfordshire before transferring to Oxfordshire a decade ago. Here I’ve held several positions including Road Safety Manager, promoting casualty reduction schemes like Safe Drive.

“My current role as Station Commander for Banbury, Deddington and Woodstock fire stations began in April 2019.”

Making a difference is extremely important to Mike:

“I’ve sat in a room of young people where you could hear a pin drop; they were consumed by our road safety presentation showing the devastation caused by reckless driving.

“In emergency response we encounter people often at the worst moments of their lives. Firefighters bring the skill, training, compassion and knowledge to quickly move those people from a position of harm to one of safety.

“That’s what makes this career so worthwhile. Saving lives; changing lives. Encouraging people to behave responsibly because they now understand the risks and consequences of doing otherwise.”

Mike’s advice to anyone thinking about applying to be a wholetime firefighter is:

“Do some background research… and then go for it!

“Try and get as much information as you can, either online or from people you know who are involved with the service.

“Make sure you’re in good shape physically. We do like people to be fit an active. Our support and training will then build on this.”

Mike continues: “It’s really important that we have a mixed skill set. We want to recruit different, not just the stereotypical or what people perceive to be the stereotypical firefighter. That is what makes my team at Banbury so special. And that’s why I’m supporting this wholetime recruitment campaign.”

Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service is committed to achieving fairness and equality in employment and service delivery. They welcome applicants from all parts of the community, including women, BAME, LGBT+ and people who have certain disabilities.

For more information on becoming a wholetime firefighter, visit: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/wholetimefirefighters

 

Firefighters who are women within Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service = 7.9%

Firefighters who are BAME within Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service = 1.05%

Statistics as of 31 Dec 2019