More than 1,000 people apply for just six firefighter posts

More than 1,000 candidates applied for just six firefighter positions last year, with the successful recruits starting over the summer, a report says.

More than 1,000 people applied for the posts
More than 1,000 people applied for the posts

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service advertised the roles last year and put applicants through six rounds, including behavioural, skills and practical tests and culminating in interviews.

In a report for fire authority members, Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton and HR chief Germaine Worker say the posts attracted record levels of women and black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates.

The successful recruits are all white and comprise four men and two women but a further pool of 10 standbys “that will be recruited as part of succession planning over the next 12-18 months” includes one BAME person, the report says.

It adds that the brigade will seek advice from recruitment consultants to help more qualified non-white candidates make it through to the later stages of future recruitment drives.

Shropshire and Wrekin Fire and Rescue Authority’s Strategy and Resources Committee will discuss the report when it meets at the brigade’s Shrewsbury headquarters on Thursday.

Officer Hammerton and Ms Worker write that the brigade instructed HR Solutions Hub to manage online applications and tests during the 2020-21 full-time firefighter recruitment campaign.

“The initial registration stage attracted 1,047 applicants,” they write, but a computerised sift eliminated ineligible candidates, including those living too far away from Shropshire, leaving 911.

Of these, 173 were woman and 71 were BAME candidates, the report says, representing 19 per cent and eight per cent of candidates respectively. In both cases a rise on 12 and 2.5 per cent in the 2016 campaign and 15 and three per cent in 2018, the report says.

Of the 452 candidates who then passed “behavioural styles”, “situational judgment” and “ability” tests, the top-scoring 140 were invited to in-person “job-related tests”, including equipment assembly and casualty evacuation.

One hundred and six of these went on to role plays and 63, including 12 women and two BAME people, were interviewed.

“Overall results concluded with six firefighter recruits starting employment on July 1, 2021,” the report says

“In addition, the service has also selected a pool of 10 further candidates that will be recruited as part of succession planning over the next 12-18 months. This consists of one female, one BAME person and eight males.”

Officer Hammerton and Ms Worker write that the process was a “positive outcome for female representation”, but note that the six recruited candidates were all white.

“Data shows that the highest level of female and BAME applicants were lost at the first testing stage, the BSQ [‘behavioural styles questionnaire’]; a total of 90 female candidates, 9.8 per cent, were unsuccessful at this assessment and 36 BAME applicants, 3.9 per cent,” they say.

“The ability tests lost 0.4 per cent of females and 1.7 per cent of BAME applicants, which indicates the ability testing does not have a significant negative impact on applicants from minority groups.

“There may be some preparatory work HR could undertake through positive action to focus on the BSQ stage of the process to support female and BAME candidates.

“This needs further exploring and advice will be sought from HR Solutions Hub.”

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