1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2018, 95.9% of firefighters in England for whom ethnicity was known were White, and 4.1% were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined
  • from 2011 to 2018, the total number of firefighters decreased from 43,360 to 34,962 – 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 4.0% in 2011 to 4.7% in 2018
  • 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 2018, ethnicity wasn’t known for 9.6% of staff overall. By role, ethnicity wasn’t known for 9.5% of firefighters (3,323 staff), 8.2% of fire control staff (92 staff), and 10.2% of support staff (808 staff). Numbers of staff with unknown ethnicity are included in the tables for reference.

The numbers and percentages shown here are based on all part-time and full-time fire and rescue services staff. 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 are 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 show 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 these data include:

  • ‘wholetime’ firefighters – full-time firefighters of all ranks
  • on-call firefighters (also known as ‘retained’ firefighters) – fully trained firefighters who may have other work but respond when needed during their ‘on call’ hours

Fire control staff answer emergency calls and organise the response by firefighters. Support staff work in areas such as finance, administration and property management.

Detailed workforce descriptions

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)

2. By ethnicity (firefighters only)

Percentage and number of firefighters by ethnicity
Ethnicity % of firefighters Number of firefighters Working age population 2011
Asian 0.6 203 8.4
Black 1.3 420 3.6
Mixed 1.7 531 1.8
White 95.9 30,346 85.1
Other inc Chinese 0.4 139 1.1
Unknown N/A* 3,323 N/A*

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Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018, there were 34,962 firefighters in England and ethnicity was known for 90.5% of them
  • of those whose ethnicity was known, 95.9% were White and 4.1% were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined
  • firefighters from a Mixed ethnic background made up 1.7% 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

3. By ethnicity over time (firefighters only)

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 38,061 0.4 174 N/A* 3,921
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 1.4 506 1.4 506 96.3 35,930 0.4 150 N/A* 3,494
2014 0.5 176 1.3 483 1.4 501 96.2 34,481 0.6 200 N/A* 3,631
2015 0.6 200 1.3 451 1.5 492 96.2 32,393 0.4 133 N/A* 4,392
2016 0.6 186 1.3 448 1.5 497 96.2 32,001 0.4 138 N/A* 3,340
2017 0.5 170 1.3 430 1.6 512 96.1 31,002 0.4 143 N/A* 3,244
2018 0.6 203 1.3 420 1.7 531 95.9 30,346 0.4 139 N/A* 3,323

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Summary

This data shows that:

  • overall, from 2011 to 2018, 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 38,061 to 30,346 (a decrease of over 20%), while the number from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined decreased from 1,378 firefighters to 1,293 (a decrease of just under 6%)
  • between 2011 and 2018, the percentage of firefighters from the White ethnic group decreased from 96.5% to 95.9%, while the percentage of firefighters from the Mixed ethnic group increased from 1.2% to 1.7%
  • the percentage of firefighters from the Asian, Black and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups have remained stable since 2011

4. By ethnicity and type of role

Percentage and number of people in the fire and rescue service workforce by ethnicity and role
Firefighters Fire Control Support Staff Total Staff
Ethnicity % of employees Number of employees % of employees Number of employees % of employees Number of employees % of employees Number of employees
Asian 0.6 203 0.5 5 2.8 201 1.0 409
Black 1.3 420 1.0 10 2.9 207 1.6 637
Mixed 1.7 531 1.6 17 1.3 92 1.6 640
White 95.9 30,346 96.8 998 92.2 6,577 95.3 37,921
Other inc Chinese 0.4 139 0.1 1 0.8 55 0.5 195
Unknown N/A* 3,323 N/A* 92 N/A* 808 N/A* 4,223

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Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018, 95.3% of all fire and rescue staff whose ethnicity was known (including firefighters, control staff and support staff) were White, and 4.7% were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined
  • 7.8% 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

5. 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 2018)
All Staff Fire control Firefighters Support Staff
Ethnicity % 2011 Number 2011 % 2018 Number 2018 % 2011 Number 2011 % 2018 Number 2018 % 2011 Number 2011 % 2018 Number 2018 % 2011 Number 2011 % 2018 Number 2018
Asian 0.9 441 1.0 409 0.3 5 0.5 5 0.5 212 0.6 203 2.6 224 2.8 201
Black 1.5 742 1.6 637 0.6 8 1.0 10 1.3 519 1.3 420 2.5 215 2.9 207
Mixed 1.2 572 1.6 640 1.2 17 1.6 17 1.2 473 1.7 531 0.9 82 1.3 92
White 96.0 47,611 95.3 37,921 97.7 1,407 96.8 998 96.5 38,061 95.9 30,346 93.3 8,143 92.2 6,577
Other inc Chinese 0.5 237 0.5 195 0.2 3 0.1 1 0.4 174 0.4 139 0.7 60 0.8 55
Unknown N/A* 4,661 N/A* 4,223 N/A* 116 N/A* 92 N/A* 3,921 N/A* 3,323 N/A* 624 N/A* 808

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Summary

This data shows that:

  • from 2011 to 2018, 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 4.0% to 4.7% – but the actual numbers of staff decreased from 1,992 in 2011 to 1,881 in 2018
  • in the same period, the percentage of fire control staff from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups increased from 2.3% to 3.2% – but their actual number remained stable (33 fire control staff in both 2011 and 2018)
  • the percentage of support staff from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups increased from 6.7% to 7.8% – but the actual number decreased from 581 support staff in 2011 to 555 in 2018
  • the total number of White staff in all roles has decreased by almost 10,000, from 47,611 in 2011 to 37,921 in 2018
  • 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

6. By type of role within each ethnic group

Percentage and number of people in each ethnic group by role in the fire and rescue service workforce
Fire Control Firefighters Support Staff
Ethnicity % of employees Number of employees % of employees Number of employees % of employees Number of employees
All 2.6 1,123 79.4 34,962 18.0 7,940
Asian 1.2 5 49.6 203 49.1 201
Black 1.6 10 65.9 420 32.5 207
Mixed 2.7 17 83.0 531 14.4 92
White 2.6 998 80.0 30,346 17.3 6,577
Other inc Chinese 0.5 1 71.3 139 28.2 55
Unknown 2.2 92 78.7 3,323 19.1 808

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Summary

This data shows that:

  • White and Mixed ethnicity staff were most likely to be firefighters (80% and 83% respectively), compared with Asian, Black and Other ethnic staff, of whom only 49.6%, 65.9% and 71.3% were firefighters
  • in 2018, 49.1% of all Asian staff were employed as support staff, compared with 17.3% of all White staff; Black and Other ethnic groups were also more highly represented in support staff roles than White staff (32.5% and 28.2%)

7. By ethnicity and area (firefighters only)

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
Avon 0.0 0 0.8 5 0.9 6 98.0 632 0.3 2 N/A* 48
Bedfordshire 0.3 1 1.0 4 2.6 10 95.9 374 0.3 1 N/A* 31
Berkshire 0.4 2 0.7 3 1.1 5 97.6 444 0.2 1 N/A* 1
Buckinghamshire 0.3 1 0.6 2 1.5 5 97.6 329 0.0 0 N/A* 39
Cambridgeshire 0.4 2 0.2 1 1.7 8 97.6 449 0.0 0 N/A* 17
Cheshire 0.5 3 0.5 3 0.5 3 98.3 652 0.3 2 N/A* 8
Cleveland 0.7 2 0.4 1 0.0 0 98.5 269 0.4 1 N/A* 173
Cornwall 0.0 0 0.4 2 1.2 6 98.0 483 0.4 2 N/A* 92
Cumbria 0.4 2 0.2 1 0.0 0 99.3 450 0.0 0 N/A* 115
Derbyshire 0.8 5 0.0 0 0.8 5 98.4 623 0.0 0 N/A* 31
Devon and Somerset 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.5 8 99.4 1,566 0.1 1 N/A* 124
Dorset and Wiltshire 0.0 0 0.4 4 1.0 9 98.4 926 0.2 2 N/A* 99
Durham 0.4 2 0.9 4 1.1 5 97.6 447 0.0 0 N/A* 43
East Sussex 0.2 1 0.4 2 2.5 14 96.7 551 0.4 2 N/A* 33
Essex 0.0 0 0.2 1 1.4 7 98.2 483 0.2 1 N/A* 629
Gloucestershire 0.6 2 0.6 2 1.2 4 97.2 318 0.3 1 N/A* 75
Greater London 1.8 81 5.5 247 4.7 213 86.6 3,911 1.4 65 N/A* 60
Greater Manchester 0.9 11 1.1 13 2.4 29 95.5 1,134 0.1 1 N/A* 104
Hampshire 0.2 3 0.0 0 0.6 7 99.2 1,204 0.0 0 N/A* 163
Hereford and Worcester 0.5 3 0.9 5 1.4 8 96.8 569 0.5 3 N/A* 11
Hertfordshire 0.2 1 0.8 5 1.2 8 97.3 646 0.6 4 N/A* 33
Humberside 0.3 2 0.6 5 0.6 5 98.5 768 0.0 0 N/A* 40
Isle Of Wight 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 100.0 164 0.0 0 N/A* 0
Isles of Scilly 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 100.0 37 0.0 0 N/A* 0
Kent 0.0 0 0.2 2 0.5 4 98.7 806 0.6 5 N/A* 316
Lancashire 0.9 9 0.4 4 1.0 10 97.3 960 0.4 4 N/A* 26
Leicestershire 0.9 5 0.6 3 1.3 7 97.2 521 0.0 0 N/A* 40
Lincolnshire 0.2 1 0.5 3 0.8 5 98.6 616 0.0 0 N/A* 9
Merseyside 0.0 0 1.2 9 2.8 22 95.1 737 0.9 7 N/A* 9
Norfolk 0.0 0 0.2 1 0.5 3 99.4 633 0.0 0 N/A* 101
North Yorkshire 0.3 2 0.0 0 0.2 1 99.5 571 0.0 0 N/A* 86
Northamptonshire 0.0 0 0.0 0 1.5 5 97.9 324 0.6 2 N/A* 106
Northumberland 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.7 2 99.3 275 0.0 0 N/A* 15
Nottinghamshire 0.7 5 0.9 6 1.6 11 96.7 652 0.0 0 N/A* 39
Oxfordshire 0.0 0 0.6 3 0.2 1 99.1 524 0.2 1 N/A* 33
Shropshire 0.0 0 0.5 2 0.3 1 99.2 379 0.0 0 N/A* 134
South Yorkshire 0.2 1 1.0 6 1.4 9 97.1 612 0.3 2 N/A* 4
Staffordshire 0.7 5 0.6 4 0.3 2 97.2 648 1.2 8 N/A* 1
Suffolk 0.0 0 0.2 1 1.1 5 98.0 443 0.7 3 N/A* 150
Surrey 0.9 5 0.4 2 0.0 0 97.5 515 1.1 6 N/A* 73
Tyne and Wear 1.1 7 0.5 3 0.2 1 98.2 603 0.0 0 N/A* 4
Warwickshire 1.0 3 1.3 4 1.6 5 96.2 300 0.0 0 N/A* 89
West Midlands 1.4 19 3.8 53 3.5 48 90.7 1,257 0.6 9 N/A* 24
West Sussex 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.6 3 99.2 491 0.2 1 N/A* 88
West Yorkshire 1.6 17 0.4 4 1.9 21 96.0 1,050 0.2 2 N/A* 7

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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 13.4%
  • the higher percentage of firefighters from these ethnic groups in London partly reflects the city’s population as a whole – in 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, 9.3% 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 4.9% 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 Devon and Somerset, Norfolk and North Yorkshire had the smallest percentage of firefighters from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined, at 0.6%, 0.6% and 0.5% respectively

8. By ethnicity and duty type (firefighters only)

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 21 0.9 182
Black 0.3 30 1.8 390
Mixed 0.6 64 2.2 467
White 98.7 10,368 94.5 19,978
Other inc Chinese 0.2 17 0.6 122
Unknown N/A* 1,713 N/A* 1,610

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Summary

This data shows that:

  • as at 31 March 2018, firefighters from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other (including Chinese) ethnic groups combined were more likely to be full time or ‘wholetime’ firefighters (at 5.5% of the workforce) than on-call or ‘retained’ firefighters (at 1.3% of the workforce)

9. 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

10. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

Home Office

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

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

11. Download the data

Fire and rescue services workforce data - Spreadsheet (csv) 47 KB

This file contains: measure, ethnicity, year, type of role, duty type, value.