Training event inspires and empowers women in the fire service to succeed

Wow. What an amazing weekend.

We are still celebrating the success of Women in the Fire Service UK’s 19th National Training & Development Event which took place on 21-23 June.

‘Celebrating Difference, Improving Delivery’ was the theme for the event and women and men came to learn together to build on existing skills and to learn new ones.

The Fire Service College, Moreton-in-Marsh, was partner and host to 248 delegates from 40 UK Fire & Rescue Services and five international services, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, Lebanon and Spain. 

A team of thirty dedicated volunteers from our National Executive Committee worked tirelessly to organise the event and facilitate and deliver some of the workshops and activities. 

“Wow. What an amazing weekend. I have met so many amazing and inspiring women, made fantastic friends – and achieved things I never believed I could.

If someone had told me two months ago I would be crawling through tiny dark tunnels and driving a fire appliance I would have laughed so loud. Thank you for helping me see my own abilities!”

— Jackie Evans, Data Protection Officer, Mid and West Wales Fire & Rescue Service

Some of the workshops on offer were:

  • Be a Control Operator
  • Large Animal Rescue
  • Be a Firefighter
  • Dynamic Situational Awareness/Operational Decision Making
  • Advanced Trauma
  • Fire Behaviour/Fire Investigation
  • Drive an Appliance
  • Abseiling/Self Defence

There were also popular workshops on inclusion and diversity, coaching for personal and professional development, fitness and wellbeing, menopause, mental health and building mentoring relationships. Delegates had the opportunity to keep fit throughout with boot camp, aqua fitness, pilates, and Parkrun sessions.

So far, the feedback from attendees has reinforced why we hoped people would want to be part of this rewarding experience. Many have come away from the event with friends for life, a renewed confidence in their own abilities, pride in going out of their comfort zone and support for the equality agenda.

“I would like to thank HFRS for giving me the opportunity to attend another fantastic weekend organised by Women in the Fire Service. I have attended workshops like Urban Search and Rescue and Be a Firefighter, got to crawl in all sorts of tunnels carrying a casualty on a stretcher, and even wear BA and put a car fire out! I would like to say to people who have not been before, both operational and non-operational, men or women, to sign up for next year and go attend some amazing workshops and meet some inspirational people.”

— Simona, Training Administrator, Humberside Fire & Rescue Service

The purpose of the training and development event was to engage women and men from the Fire & Rescue Service community in a training and development experience, and to help people gain a better understanding of how they can contribute to building a more progressive fire service.

“The event is extremely well organised giving attendees the opportunity to sample a diverse range of functions within the Fire and Rescue Service and other sectors. The weekend has a great ethos around going beyond comfort zones and encouraging everyone that gender is not a barrier to success within the Fire and Rescue Services across the UK.” 

— Matt Jones, Group Manager, South Wales Fire & Rescue Service

Keynote presentations at the opening ceremony on Friday evening were given by London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton and Sophie Montagne of the Ice Maidens.

“The buzz started early on Friday and if I’m honest one week on – I am still on a high. The positive conversations I had with people around taking on challenges for the first time, meeting new colleagues and stretching themselves in this safe environment only encourages me and all of those who help put on this event to work even harder next year.

It was great to see a good balance of previous attendees and first-timers, and I hope each and every single delegate went away with something to keep them motivated and inspired. I certainly know all the volunteers and helpers did!”

Julie King, Chair of WFS UK and Group Manager with East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service

We presented an award to Dany Cotton as a mark of recognition for her commitment and dedication to WFS UK, after her announcement earlier this year that she would be stepping down as Chair. Over the past 19 years, Dany has held roles of Chair and Vice Chair as an Honorary Officer of our National Executive Committee. 

The 19th National Training & Development Event was kindly sponsored by Bristol Uniforms Ltd, APD Communications and Supply+. 

The 20th annual event takes place 19-21 June, 2020, at the Fire Service College

To register your interest to attend the event or if you would like to be a corporate sponsor please contact Karen Smith: