FIRE chiefs have been told “more could have been done” to recruit a more diverse range of people.

Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Police Fire and Crime Commissioner, speaking at public accountability meeting last week, said progress had been made to recruit from different backgrounds, but more needed to be done.

“I remain concerned about this, in particular, the recent recruitment which more could have been done,” she said.

“I’m not sure the engagement has been effective as it could have been. Progress has been made, but more can be done in the future.”

During the meeting, Deputy Chief Fire Officer Jon Foster said the North Yorkshire service was facing challenges other didn’t.

He said: “We have got seven day recruit stations which means people have got to live and work within five minutes of that fire station, meaning that people from diverse backgrounds may well have to uproot and go to live near that fire station - that means taking their family with them.

“They are challenges we’ve got to try and overcome and put some measures in place to try and overcome that.”

North Yorkshire currently has a smaller population of BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) residents, compared to other counties.

In 2018, staff from minority ethnic groups made up two per cent of North Yorkshire Fire Service (NYFS). Eighty-four per cent of NYFS staff were white, and a further 14 per cent not stated.

Women currently make up about12 per cent of the workforce, which Ms Mulligan said “from a gender perspective, 12 per cent of the entire workforce is female, which is a very low starting point”.

The service has recruited female firefighters since 1990 and continues to encourage women into operational roles.

“Many women have never considered firefighting as a career or as a way to help their community and in the past - I was one of them,” said Rose Fearnley, watch manager at Goathland Station.

“I started out by joining my local fire station in Goathland as an on-call firefighter, which I found challenging.

“I quickly realised that a diverse team with different skills, backgrounds and approaches really helps with problem solving at incidents and keeping our community safe.

“After a few years, I applied to become a full-time firefighter and I am now in charge of my on-call station.

“I would encourage other women to find out more about the role and consider joining their local station.”

DCFO Foster added: “We know that having a more diverse workforce would be more reflective of our communities, and helps build upon of our existing experienced and valued teams, to pool our knowledge and create new ideas and improved ways of working to help the public.”