Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service is the statutory fire and rescue service for the county of Derbyshire, England.
GAVIN TOMLINSON (CHIEF FIRE OFFICER/CEO) STATEMENT
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion must be upheld in everything we do, from recruiting and developing talented employees through to delivering a professional service to our communities.
We truly believe that it is vital for everyone to feel that they can be themselves at work, but we know this is not always the case. For example, research has shown that more than a third of LGBT+ staff have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination and unfair treatment, and those from an ethnic minority background are more likely to be overlooked for promotions.
We are committed to ensuring that our staff feel fully supported, are able to be themselves at work and are free from the threat of bullying and harassment. All people, without exception, have a right to be themselves without fear of abuse, or discrimination.
It is important to remember, that we all play a part in creating an environment and culture where people are treated fairly with dignity and respect. Therefore, as individuals, teams and on behalf of DFRS, we must continue to show our ongoing support, champion Our Core Values, and stand together with colleagues across the service and whenever we work within with our communities for the people we serve.
Our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion goes beyond mere legal compliance; it is crucial to our core activities as outlined throughout our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy.
We have a diverse community and workforce where respect, fairness and inclusion are integral to our culture and values.
We aim to ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and we recognise and value differences such as sex, gender identity, race, religion or belief, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, pregnancy, caring responsibilities or employment status.
Firefighter, Wirksworth On-Call
I had always wanted to join the Fire service, but when I looked into joining when I was 17, I was too young. I made a decision to work in a quarry whilst studying at college instead, allowing me to become a self-employed beauty and sports massage therapist until I had my little boy when I was 27. Whilst he was little, I studied Accountancy, which allowed me to work from home and fit my work around child care.
Whilst on holiday with friends a few years later we were discussing what jobs we had always wanted to do and I mentioned that I had always wanted to be a firefighter. On returning from holiday I pulled up at the local petrol station (which is next to the fire station) and there was a sign advertising for on-call firefighters. I thought to myself ‘it’s now or never’!
I applied on line and got in touch with the station. I was invited to attend a drill night to find out a bit more about the role and about how on-call works. After going to the station and meeting everyone, I knew I wanted to be a firefighter more than ever.
After my initial application I worked on my fitness to make sure I could pass the equipment carry and as I’m short (‘cough’ 5ft 1!) I worked on upper body strength to pass the ladder lift. This was definitely the toughest bit for me, as I was at full extension to get the bar passed the mark, but I’m proud to say I passed and then had to wait for the interview and medical. At each stage I got through that hunger to be a firefighter grew and I was worried that I wouldn’t make it as I wanted to so badly!
Thankfully, I passed everything and I eagerly awaited the start of the training course and kept pinching myself as I thought it was a dream (I still do now sometimes!) The course was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I learnt so many new skills and I grew as a person (not in height I’m still short!) The training is intense and there is a lot to learn but it’s all doable and enjoyable. When you reach the end of the course it’s an incredible feeling of achievement.
Once I had passed out as a firefighter I eagerly awaited my first shout, which I didn’t have to wait long for (2 hours after id got home from my pass out parade!) It was fantastic turning out on the truck and I still get that same excitement now every time we turn out, not knowing where or what we are going to and being there for the community I live in. Two years on and I still have the absolute love for the job I did at the start. I have a whole new family in my crew and in Derbyshire Fire & Rescue and going to work is a pleasure. It never feels like a job as it’s so rewarding. It fits perfectly around my family life and I have a boy who is proud of his mama and I hope that it will encourage him to follow his dreams.
Crew Manager, Inclusion
When I left school I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career, so I went to Manchester University to study Physics. After my undergraduate degree, I went on to study for a master’s degree in Medical Physics and began thinking about potential careers.
I used to hear stories about being a firefighter from my brother-in-law and a family friend, and this started to form an idea that I would like to join the fire service too. Unfortunately when I looked into joining I found that I was too short – at the time there was a height restriction of 5’6”. Due to this, I decided to continue with my studies, going on to complete a PhD in Medical Physics. I then got a job at the Medical Physics department at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.
Across the road from the hospital where I worked was a fire station. Every time I saw the fire engine tipping out on blue lights I would wish I was on it. In 1997 the height restriction was dropped from the application criteria, and I started to apply for jobs. Unfortunately, recruitment was few and far between at the time, but I tried Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Greater Manchester, each time failing on something different at the physical stage. I was offered a place as an on-call firefighter at Beeston fire station in Nottingham, but needed to live closer and so I was in the process of looking for somewhere to live within 5 minutes of the fire station, whilst also going through the recruitment process for Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service – the county where I originally grew up. After a series of tests which took place over six months, I was successful in getting a wholetime firefighter position and finally started my fire service career with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service in 2001.
I found the training course very hard, but the other recruits were great and there was another female on the course with me. That helped me a lot, knowing we had each other for support all of the way through. After passing out from training, I was posted to Chesterfield fire station on the same watch as my family friend – the one whose stories had started this whole journey. I was really happy on my watch. The station was really busy, and it was a large watch (19 per shift) with many years of experience between them, so I learned a lot. We also had special appliances which meant that I was able to learn some different skills too. During my time at Chesterfield I had my 2 children (now 11 and 13), and this meant time on light duties whilst I was pregnant. This wasn’t easy for me, and when I was off on maternity leave with my youngest child the station was reduced in size due the opening of another station nearby. The station itself then got moved to another site, but this did mean that we got a lovely new fire station to work from. In 2011 I moved to Alfreton fire station. It was a much quieter station, and a smaller watch than I’d been used to, but it was good to experience a new environment after 10 years in one place. All of a sudden, I found myself as the most experienced member of the watch, and when we needed a new driver I put my name down. It was one of the best things I did. I loved driving on blue lights and it became my favourite role.
I decided to take some exams, and with the support of some of my watch members a few of us took the Institution of Fire Engineers exams. At the time I wasn’t interested in getting promoted, but I did it for personal development. I had enjoyed studying again and so after that I decided to do a work-related masters degree. I chose fire investigation as my subject, as it combined both my scientific background and my job as a firefighter. During this time I was offered a secondment to the fire investigation dog unit to support my studies, and I spent seven months with the unit working across the whole East Midlands.
After a couple of years back on station I decided to apply for a temporary promotion. I was fortunate enough to get the job, and went to work at HQ in the Prevention & Inclusion department working on risk reduction strategies with vulnerable families in the community. It was a very different environment to station, but the biggest shock for me was working days again after 16 years of working shifts. Surprisingly, it was much harder in some ways for childcare than my shifts had been, especially for getting to and from school, but also it meant that my children didn’t have to sleep away from home for two nights a week. We all got to stay at home at night, and I rediscovered my weekends, which had been impacted on by shift work. I really enjoyed my time at HQ, started to appreciate that there is a big fire service world out there aside from stations, and realised that I also enjoyed being a crew manager. I applied for permanent promotion and was offered a role in the Operational Training department. I now train the new recruits coming into the service – both wholetime and on-call. It’s a job that I love and it is very rewarding. Pass out parades are amazing – watching the trainees showing their friends and family how much they have learned during their training course, and seeing them excited to start the next stage of their career. It always reminds me of my own time as a recruit, and makes me wonder where the last 18 years has gone. It’s been a whirlwind experience so far, but I look back and feel very proud of what I’ve achieved, and wonder what is yet to come.