Fire and rescue services workforce

The main facts and figures show that:

  • as at 31 March 2017, 96.1% of firefighters in England for whom ethnicity was known were White, and 3.9% were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined
  • from 2011 to 2017, the total number of firefighters decreased from 43,360 to 35,620 – this decrease was seen in every ethnic group except the Mixed ethnicity group
  • in the same period, the percentage of all fire and rescue services staff (including firefighters, fire control and support staff) from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined increased slightly, from 4.1% in 2011 to 4.5% in 2017
  • in the 2011 Census, 85.1% of the working age population in England (people aged 16 to 64 years) was White, 8.4% was Asian, 3.6% was Black, 1.8% had Mixed ethnicity, and 1.1% was from the Other ethnic group
Things you need to know

The percentages shown here are based on fire and rescue services staff whose ethnicity was known.

In 2017, ethnicity wasn’t known for 11.3% of staff overall. By role, ethnicity wasn’t known for 11.4% of firefighters (4,048 staff), 8.5% of fire control staff (95 staff), and 11.5% of support staff (879 staff).

Numbers of staff with unknown ethnicity are included in the tables for reference.

The numbers and percentages shown here are based on a headcount – the total number of fire and rescue services staff, regardless of whether they worked part-time or full-time. Full-time equivalent (FTE) staff figures can be found on the Fire statistics data tables, although they are not broken down by ethnicity.

‘On-call’ firefighters (also known as ‘retained’ firefighters) may have more than one contract of employment. In this case, they will be counted more than once in the workforce statistics.

Data is taken from the personnel records for the 45 fire and rescue services in England. Population estimates are based on the 2011 Census (the latest available figures).

You should treat the comparison between workforce and population figures with caution, because:

  • the ethnicity categories used in the 2011 Census differ slightly from those used in the fire and rescue staff data – in particular, the Chinese ethnic group is included in the Asian group of ethnicities in the Census data, and in the ‘Other’ group in the fire and rescue staff data
  • the areas served by each fire and rescue service do not exactly match the geographical areas covered by Census data presented
  • it is likely that there have been some population changes since 2011 that aren't accounted for in the Census data
What the data measures

The data shows the number of staff working in fire and rescue services in England, and the percentage of the workforce from each ethnic group. The figures are based on a snapshot taken at 31 March each year.

Firefighters in this data include:

  • ‘wholetime’ firefighters – full-time firefighters of all ranks, including non-operational staff, flexible duty officers and recruits in training
  • on-call firefighters (also known as ‘retained’ firefighters) – these firefighters, who may have other full-time work, respond when needed during their ‘on call’ hours, and are trained to deal with fires, road traffic incidents, hazardous materials and floods, and fire safety work

Fire control staff answer emergency calls and mobilise the response by firefighters.

Support staff work in administrative roles, clerical support, analytical support, finance, vehicle maintenance and property management.

The ethnic categories used in this data

Ethnicity data for staff working for the fire and rescue services in England is taken from staff records which use the following categories:

  • Asian or Asian British
  • Black or Black British
  • Chinese
  • Mixed
  • White British or Irish
  • any other white background
  • any other minority ethnic background
  • ethnic origin not stated

For the purposes of this data, these categories have been grouped into the following broad ethnic categories from the 2001 Census:

  • Asian/Asian British
  • Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
  • Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups
  • White
  • Other ethnic group (including Chinese)

Ethnic groups and how data on ethnicity is collected

Firefighters by ethnicity

Percentage and number of firefighters by ethnicity

Ethnicity % of firefighters Number of firefighters Working age population 2011
Asian 0.5 171 8.4
Black 1.4 428 3.6
Mixed 1.6 507 1.8
White 96.1 30,328 85.1
Other inc Chinese 0.4 138 1.1
Unknown N/A* 4,048 N/A*

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • as at 31 March 2017, they were 35,620 firefighters in England and ethnicity was known for 89% of them
  • of those whose ethnicity was known, 96.1% were White and 3.9% were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined
  • firefighters from a Mixed ethnic background made up 1.6% of the total firefighters, making them the second largest group after White
  • in the 2011 Census, 85.1% of the working age population in England (people aged 16 to 64 years) was White, 8.4% was Asian, 3.6% was Black, 1.8% had Mixed ethnicity, and 1.1% was from the Other ethnic group – note that the Chinese ethnic group is included in the Asian group of ethnicities in the Census data, and in the ‘Other’ group in the fire and rescue staff data

Firefighters by ethnicity over time

Percentage and number of firefighters from different ethnic groups over time

Asian Black Mixed White Other inc Chinese Unknown
Year % of firefighters Number of firefighters % of firefighters Number of firefighters % of firefighters Number of firefighters % of firefighters Number of firefighters % of firefighters Number of firefighters % of firefighters Number of firefighters
2011 0.5 212 1.3 519 1.2 473 96.5 37,635 0.4 174 N/A* 4,347
2012 0.5 196 1.4 540 1.3 504 96.5 37,513 0.4 137 N/A* 3,172
2013 0.5 200 1.4 507 1.4 506 96.3 35,931 0.4 150 N/A* 3,495
2014 0.5 176 1.3 483 1.4 500 96.2 34,477 0.6 200 N/A* 3,630
2015 0.6 200 1.3 451 1.5 492 96.2 32,377 0.4 132 N/A* 4,390
2016 0.6 186 1.3 449 1.5 497 96.2 32,006 0.4 138 N/A* 3,339
2017 0.5 171 1.4 428 1.6 507 96.1 30,328 0.4 138 N/A* 4,048

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Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, from 2011 to 2017, the number of firefighters decreased for all ethnic groups except those with Mixed ethnicity, which showed a slight increase
  • in the same period, the number of White firefighters went down from 37,635 to 30,328 (a decrease of over 19%), while the number from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined decreased from 1,378 firefighters to 1,244 (a decrease of just under 10%)
  • between 2011 and 2017, the percentage of firefighters from the White ethnic group decreased from 96.5% to 96.1%, while the percentage of firefighters from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined increased from 3.5% to 3.9% – this was due mainly to the greater decrease in the number of the White firefighters

Fire and rescue service workforce by ethnicity and type of role

Percentage and number of people in the fire and rescue service workforce by ethnicity and role

Fire Control Support Staff Total Staff Firefighters
Ethnicity % of employees Number of employees % of employees Number of employees % of employees Number of employees % of employees Number of employees
Asian 0.3 3 2.7 182 0.9 356 0.5 171
Black 0.9 9 2.6 173 1.6 610 1.4 428
Mixed 2.1 22 1.3 89 1.6 618 1.6 507
White 96.7 995 92.7 6,247 95.5 37,570 96.1 30,328
Other inc Chinese 0.0 0 0.7 47 0.5 185 0.4 138
Unknown N/A* 95 N/A* 879 N/A* 5,022 N/A* 4,048

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Summary

This data shows that:

  • as at 31 March 2017, 95.5% of all fire and rescue staff whose ethnicity was known (including firefighters, control staff and support staff) were White, and 4.5% were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined
  • 7.3% of support staff were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined, the highest percentage of staff from these groups out of all types of role

Fire and rescue service workforce by ethnicity and type of role over time

Percentage of people in the fire and rescue service workforce by ethnicity and role, over time (2011 and 2017)

Firefighters Fire control Support Staff All Staff
Ethnicity % 2011 Number 2011 % 2017 Number 2017 % 2011 Number 2011 % 2017 Number 2017 % 2011 Number 2011 % 2017 Number 2017 % 2011 Number 2011 % 2017 Number 2017
Asian 0.5 212 0.5 171 0.3 5 0.3 3 2.6 224 2.7 182 0.9 441 0.9 356
Black 1.3 519 1.4 428 0.6 8 0.9 9 2.5 215 2.6 173 1.5 742 1.6 610
Mixed 1.2 473 1.6 507 1.2 17 2.1 22 0.9 82 1.3 89 1.2 572 1.6 618
White 96.5 37,635 96.1 30,328 97.7 1,407 96.7 995 93.3 8,143 92.7 6,247 95.9 47,185 95.5 37,570
Other inc Chinese 0.4 174 0.4 138 0.2 3 0.0 0 0.7 60 0.7 47 0.5 237 0.5 185
Unknown N/A* 4,347 N/A* 4,048 N/A* 116 N/A* 95 N/A* 624 N/A* 879 N/A* 5,087 N/A* 5,022

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Summary

This data shows that:

  • from 2011 to 2017, the percentage of all staff (including firefighters, control staff and support staff) from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (inc Chinese) ethnic groups combined increased from 4.1% to 4.5% – but the actual numbers of staff decreased from 1,992 in 2011 to 1,769 in 2017
  • in the same period, the percentage of fire control staff from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined increased from 2.3% to 3.3% – but their actual number remained stable (33 fire control staff in 2011, compared with 34 in 2017)
  • in the same period, the percentage of support staff from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined increased from 6.7% to 7.3% – but the actual number decreased from 581 support staff in 2011 to 491 in 2017
  • the total number of White staff in all roles has decreased by almost 10,000, from 47,185 in 2011 to 37,570 in 2017
  • actual numbers of staff have decreased for all ethnic groups except the Mixed ethnicity group – the increase in the percentage of staff from the Asian, Black, and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups is due mainly to the greater decrease in the number of White staff

Firefighters by ethnicity and area

Percentage and number of firefighters from different ethnic groups, by area

Asian Black Mixed White Other inc Chinese Unknown
Fire and Rescue Services % of firefighters Number of firefighters % of firefighters Number of firefighters % of firefighters Number of firefighters % of firefighters Number of firefighters % of firefighters Number of firefighters % of firefighters Number of firefighters
England 0.5 171 1.4 428 1.6 507 96.1 30,328 0.4 138 N/A* 4,048
Avon 0.0 0 0.8 5 1.2 8 97.7 648 0.3 2 N/A* 42
Bedfordshire withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 0 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 2 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 5 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 255 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 0 N/A* 165
Berkshire 0.5 2 0.7 3 0.9 4 97.7 431 0.2 1 N/A* 0
Buckinghamshire 0.3 1 0.6 2 1.1 4 98.0 343 0.0 0 N/A* 46
Cambridgeshire 0.4 2 1.7 8 0.2 1 97.7 462 0.0 0 N/A* 20
Cheshire 0.5 3 0.5 3 0.8 5 98.2 652 0.2 1 N/A* 11
Cleveland 0.4 2 0.4 2 0.4 2 98.4 438 0.2 1 N/A* 0
Cornwall 0.0 0 0.4 2 1.3 7 97.9 509 0.4 2 N/A* 62
Cumbria 0.2 1 0.2 1 0.0 0 99.6 465 0.0 0 N/A* 96
Derbyshire 0.9 6 0.0 0 0.9 6 98.2 658 0.0 0 N/A* 18
Devon and Somerset 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.4 7 99.5 1,560 0.1 1 N/A* 111
Dorset and Wiltshire 0.0 0 0.5 5 1.0 9 98.4 930 0.1 1 N/A* 71
Durham 0.9 4 0.6 3 0.9 4 97.6 455 0.0 0 N/A* 19
East Sussex 0.0 0 0.2 1 2.2 14 97.2 615 0.5 3 N/A* 25
Essex withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 0 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 6 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 484 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 0 N/A* 614
Gloucestershire 0.3 1 1.3 4 1.3 4 96.8 307 0.3 1 N/A* 82
Greater London 1.3 60 5.6 259 4.5 207 86.8 4,009 1.8 83 N/A* 77
Greater Manchester 0.7 9 1.1 13 1.7 21 96.5 1,175 0.0 0 N/A* 78
Hampshire 0.3 4 0.0 0 0.6 7 99.1 1,215 0.0 0 N/A* 188
Hereford and Worcester 0.3 2 0.2 1 1.5 9 98.0 599 0.0 0 N/A* 9
Hertfordshire 0.2 1 0.8 5 1.1 7 97.3 620 0.6 4 N/A* 34
Humberside 0.0 0 0.4 3 1.1 8 98.5 718 0.0 0 N/A* 85
Isle Of Wight 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 100.0 170 0.0 0 N/A* 0
Isles of Scilly 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 38 0.0 0 N/A* 0
Kent withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 2 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 5 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 839 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 0 N/A* 415
Lancashire 0.8 8 0.4 4 0.8 8 97.7 971 0.3 3 N/A* 23
Leicestershire 0.7 4 0.6 3 0.7 4 98.0 527 0.0 0 N/A* 29
Lincolnshire 0.5 3 0.2 1 1.3 8 98.0 601 0.0 0 N/A* 19
Merseyside 0.0 0 1.0 10 2.5 24 95.6 919 0.8 8 N/A* 7
Norfolk 0.0 0 0.4 2 0.4 2 99.2 520 0.0 0 N/A* 194
North Yorkshire 0.4 2 0.0 0 0.2 1 99.4 515 0.0 0 N/A* 141
Northamptonshire 0.0 0 0.3 1 2.1 8 97.4 368 0.3 1 N/A* 81
Northumberland 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.7 2 99.3 271 0.0 0 N/A* 17
Nottinghamshire 0.6 4 0.7 5 1.8 12 96.7 651 0.1 1 N/A* 43
Oxfordshire 0.0 0 0.2 1 0.6 3 98.9 522 0.4 2 N/A* 22
Shropshire 0.0 0 0.5 2 0.0 0 98.9 364 0.5 2 N/A* 146
South Yorkshire 0.2 1 0.9 6 0.9 6 97.5 628 0.5 3 N/A* 6
Staffordshire withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 3 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 3 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 0 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 10 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 1 N/A* 690
Suffolk 0.2 1 0.2 1 0.8 4 98.1 522 0.8 4 N/A* 135
Surrey 0.7 4 0.3 2 1.4 8 97.6 569 0.0 0 N/A* 37
Tyne and Wear 0.9 6 0.3 2 0.5 3 98.3 632 0.0 0 N/A* 4
Warwickshire 1.4 4 1.0 3 1.0 3 96.3 285 0.3 1 N/A* 73
West Midlands 1.2 16 3.8 53 2.7 37 91.7 1,276 0.6 9 N/A* 19
West Sussex 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.6 3 99.2 508 0.2 1 N/A* 93
West Yorkshire 1.4 16 0.4 4 1.9 21 96.2 1,074 0.2 2 N/A* 1

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Summary

This data shows that:

  • of the 45 fire and rescue services in England, London Fire Brigade had the highest percentage of firefighters from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined, at 13.2%
  • the higher percentage of firefighters from these ethnic groups in London partly reflects the city’s population as a whole – as at the 2011 Census, 40.2% of people in London came from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups, the highest percentage for any area of England
  • in the West Midlands, 8.3% of firefighters were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined, compared with 29.9% of the overall population in the region who came from the same groups
  • in Merseyside 4.4% of firefighters were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined, compared with 5.6% of the overall population in the region who came from the same ethnic groups
  • fire and rescue services in Cumbria, Devon and Somerset, and North Yorkshire had the smallest percentage of firefighters from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined, at 0.4%, 0.5% and 0.6% respectively

Firefighters by ethnicity and duty type

Percentage and number of firefighters from different ethnic groups, by type of duty

On-call ('retained') firefighters Full-time ('Wholetime') firefighters
Ethnicity % Number % Number
Asian 0.2 20 0.7 151
Black 0.2 21 1.9 407
Mixed 0.8 82 2.0 425
White 98.7 10,228 94.8 20,100
Other inc Chinese 0.1 13 0.6 125
Unknown N/A* 2,113 N/A* 1,935

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Summary

This data shows that:

  • as at 31 March 2017, firefighters from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined were more likely to be full time or ‘wholetime’ firefighters (at 5.2% of the workforce) than on-call or ‘retained’ firefighters (at 1.3% of the workforce)

Methodology

Methodology

Data is collected from each of the 45 fire and rescue services in England.

Fire and rescue services keep records of all their staff on human resources and payroll systems. Data is quality checked by the Home Office before publication.

Rounding

Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal point.

Related publications

Fire statistics

Quality and methodology information

Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

Home Office

Note on corrections or updates

A small update was made on 3 April 2018. The updated statistics are available in data tables 1104 in the statistical data sets.

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

Ethnicity and gender data is used by fire and rescue services as part of diversity monitoring schemes.

Download the data

Fire and rescue service workforce in England - Spreadsheet (csv) 11 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value,value_type, role, headcount

Fire and rescue service workforce by fire and rescue services - Spreadsheet (csv) 96 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, type, fire and rescue services, value, value_type and headcount