Age is one of the 9 protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, and as a Service we have considered what provisions we can offer to meet the needs of our communities across all age groups, as well as what we can do internally to support our workforce and prevent any form of age discrimination occurring.
As a Fire and Rescue Service we are about helping the members of our communities to become safer, healthier and to live more independently. Improving the wellbeing of our communities and investing in our future generations is a top priority for us.
So how do we do this?
In our Communities
- We work collaboratively with our partners to identify the members of our communities most at risk. Age is a factor that has been proven to place individuals at a higher risk from a fire in the home as well as the risk associated with slips, trips and falls. Based on this information our Safe and Well Visits are targeted at the older people in our communities. The support we offer enables the most vulnerable within our communities to live safely.
Like many counties across the country both Dorset and Wiltshire have ageing populations so the demand for these services is ever increasing. Our Safe and Well Advisors and Duty Crews have been specifically trained to provide a person-centred visit, which expands beyond only identifying fire risks but also considering health and wellbeing issues, taking a more holistic approach to reducing risk. Our staff will not only sign post individuals but also seek to immediately identify and reduce risks where appropriate. The wishes, behaviours, needs and abilities of the individual are always at the heart of any intervention.
- To ensure that our services are reaching the most vulnerable we work with agencies, other organisations and authorities such as Safe and Independent Living, Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust, Age UK, Careline etc, who are regularly in contact with the members of our communities who require our support but may not have access to obtain the information from our usual channels, for example if they do not have access internet.
- We also offer a Freephone telephone number which can be called to request a visit, or a request can be made in writing. All our materials are available in easy read and large font making them accessible to a wider audience.
It is not just the elderly who require input from the Fire Service, we are also very keen to target the future generations in our communities to ensure they remain safe and healthy. We therefore deliver a range of education and intervention programmes that have been designed to support children, young adults, and their families.
- Our Education Programme is delivered to young members of our communities through school programmes, offering advice on fire safety in the home. We follow a structured programme to ensure consistency across the area, but if there is a local problem or trend developing we have a reactive aspect to our programme which enables us to build this into the programme educating children on this particular aspect of fire safety.
- In addition to our main delivery programme in schools we support the local communities by working with partners across the voluntary looking at the safety of children and young people. We signpost and share key safety messages through campaigns and themed weeks using our website and social media.
- We offer more specific services to children and young adults who may be exhibiting signs of Fire Setting behaviour.
- We deliver Youth Engagement Programmes to young people to achieve their full potential. These programmes are organised based on the local need, we often receive referrals for students from Local Authority teams such as Youth Offending Teams, the Looked after Children and Care Leavers Teams, Family Services and Adult Education Teams, Schools (including Special Educational Needs Schools), DWP Job Centre Plus, local youth charities.
- We educate members of our communities about the dangers on our roads through our Road Safety Education Programme. Some of the programmes we offer include:
- Safe Drive Stay Alive to help reduce the number of young drivers killed and seriously injured in road traffic collisions
- Safe Drive Stay Alive (Corporate) to help reduce the number of business drivers killed and seriously injured in road traffic collisions
- Survive TheDrive to help reduce the number of military personnel drivers killed and seriously injured in road traffic collisions
- Biker Down to help reduce the number motorcyclistsdrivers killed and seriously injured in road traffic collisions
- Operation Close Pass to help reduce the number of cyclists drivers killed and seriously injured in road traffic collisions
Amongst our Workforce
The average age of our workforce is 42, with the largest single group aged between 46 and 55, with most of our staff being operational firefighters. Our on-call fire fighters form the largest single group of employees and have an average age of 39, this is due to the much greater level of recruitment seen in this area when compared to the wholetime workforce where the average age is 43. In contrast to the on-call element of the Service recruitment for wholetime staff is much lower and therefore we see a slower turnover of staff and an increasing average age whilst long serving members of staff work towards retirement.
Our staff profile then differs further when we look at our control operators who have an average of 40. The Service now runs an apprenticeship programme for staff joining control, whilst this is not exclusive to younger people we have found that it has attracted and provided opportunities from the younger age groups.
Our corporate staff group has the highest age profile with over 60% of our corporate workforce being over the age of 46, which is almost double that of our operational on-call firefighters where only 31% of this staff group are over the age of 46.
We recognise the ageing profile of our workforce and we support our staff through an active health and wellbeing team, including personal trainers to help staff maintain their fitness, staff networks (menopause group) and retirement information sessions.
As a service we ensure that age discrimination does not occur through a managed recruitment process, with all staff involved in the recruitment process having completed a learning package on the impacts of Unconscious Bias, and a trained HR representative being involved throughout the recruitment process to ensure a fair and consistent approach in line with policy.