Meet Hampshire's new female firefighters as recruitment drive leads to rise in newcomers

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THE number of female firefighters in Hampshire has spiked dramatically following a recent recruitment drive.

In 2017, just one woman joined Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service – representing 3.7 per cent of the overall intake of 28 that year.

Jenna Martin and Laura Carruthers have joined Fareham Fire Station. Picture: Simon Carr

Jenna Martin and Laura Carruthers have joined Fareham Fire Station. Picture: Simon Carr

But the most recent recruitment drive, which was more targeted at women, saw 13 join the service and complete their training. The total number of new recruits is 41 so 31.7 per cent are women.

In Portsmouth, Bradley Yates and Roxanne Roberts will start at Southsea Fire Station while Jason Stares, Jason Parish and Cameron Forrester will be based in Cosham.

Meanwhile in Fareham, Jenna Martin and Laura Carruthers will begin their firefighting careers.

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Roxanne Roberts and Bradley Yates at Southsea Fire Station. Picture: Simon Carr

Roxanne Roberts and Bradley Yates at Southsea Fire Station. Picture: Simon Carr

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s inclusion and diversity manager Leanne Illman said: ‘We had a targeted recruitment campaign in which we tried to remove historic barriers that may have previously prevented people from considering the fire service as a career.

‘This increase is great news but there is still more to do to ensure people from all underrepresented groups in our communities know the fire service is a fantastic place to work.

‘We strive to have a workforce that represents the community it serves but there is no lowering of standards – every job is given on merit.’

This year’s intake is a mixture of on-call firefighters who are now working full-time, and new starters joining the service.

Cosham Fire Station's new recruits Jason Stares, Jason Parish and Cameron Forrester. Picture: Simon Carr

Cosham Fire Station's new recruits Jason Stares, Jason Parish and Cameron Forrester. Picture: Simon Carr

The recruitment process also saw a rise in the number of people from Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, compared to zero in the previous intake.

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Chief fire officer Neil Odin said: ‘Diversity is the lifeblood of any healthy organisation and I am delighted more people from our underrepresented groups are considering careers with us.

‘Our new firefighters should feel incredibly proud to have reached the high standards we demand to wear the uniform of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service – we are certainly proud of them.

‘As the role of the firefighter evolves I am sure that they will embrace new skills and innovation while upholding the finest traditions of the service.’