Oxfordshire’s firefighters promote diversity in new full-time 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 full-time recruitment campaign, launched today (Monday March 16).

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

He said: “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.

Banbury's fire station manager, Mike Clarke

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

Making a difference is extremely important to station manager Mike Clarke.

He added: “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.”

Oxfordshires Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Jo Bowcock

Mike’s advice to anyone thinking about applying to be a full-time 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.

“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.

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 December 31, 2019.

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

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.

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

“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.”