Fire and rescue services workforce

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2019, 95.7% of firefighters in England were White (out of those whose ethnicity was known)
  • for comparison, 85.1% of working age people in England (aged 16 to 64 years) were White at the time of the 2011 Census
  • from 2011 to 2019, the total number of firefighters went down from around 43,000 to around 35,000
  • there was a decrease in the number of firefighters in every ethnic group except the Mixed and Asian ethnic groups
  • overall, the percentage of fire and rescue services staff (including support staff) from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other backgrounds went up from 4.0% in 2011 to 5.0% in 2019
Things you need to know

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

In 2019, ethnicity wasn’t known for 9.5% of staff. Broken down by role, ethnicity wasn’t known for:

  • 9.6% of firefighters
  • 6.4% of fire control staff
  • 9.3% of support staff

The tables on this page include the number of staff whose ethnicity wasn't known.

The numbers and percentages shown here include all part-time and full-time fire and rescue services staff.

See the Fire statistics data tables for 'full-time equivalent' (FTE) numbers. These 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 are counted more than once in the workforce statistics.

Data comes 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 are slightly different from those used in the fire and rescue staff data – in particular, the Chinese ethnic group is part of the 'Asian group' in the Census data, and part of 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 on 31 March every 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

Wholetime firefighters make up around two-thirds of all firefighters.

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

Support staff work in areas such as finance, administration and property management.

Please see page 11 of the detailed workforce descriptions (PDF, 22 pages, 409KB) for more information on the definitions of different parts of the fire service workforce.

The ethnic categories used in this data

Fire and rescue services in England use the following ethnic categories for their staff:

  • 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 and type of role

Percentage and number of fire and rescue service staff by ethnicity
Firefighters Fire control Support Staff All Staff
Ethnicity Firefighters % Firefighters Number Fire control % Fire control Number Support Staff % Support Staff Number All Staff % All Staff Number
All N/A* 35,023 N/A* 1,134 N/A* 8,028 N/A* 44,185
Asian 0.7 219 0.4 4 2.8 207 1.1 430
Black 1.3 427 0.8 8 3.0 221 1.6 656
Mixed 1.8 577 1.3 14 1.3 93 1.7 684
White 95.7 30,285 97.5 1,034 92.0 6,693 95.0 38,012
Other inc Chinese 0.5 145 0.1 1 0.9 64 0.5 210

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of role’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of role’ (CSV)

Summary of Fire and rescue services workforce By ethnicity and type of role Summary

Percentages shown here are based on staff whose ethnicity was known. Working age population comparisons use data from the 2011 Census.

This data shows that, in 2019:

  • 95.0% of all fire and rescue staff in England were White
  • 95.7% of firefighters were White
  • firefighters with Mixed ethnicity made up 1.8% of firefighters, making them the second largest ethnic group after White
  • for comparison, 85.1% of working age people in England (aged 16 to 64 years) were White at the time of the 2011 Census
  • 14.9% of working age people were from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other backgrounds
  • 8.0% 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

3. 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 2019)
Firefighters Fire control Support Staff All Staff
Ethnicity Firefighters % 2011 Firefighters Number 2011 Firefighters % 2019 Firefighters Number 2019 Fire control % 2011 Fire control Number 2011 Fire control % 2019 Fire control Number 2019 Support Staff % 2011 Support Staff Number 2011 Support Staff % 2019 Support Staff Number 2019 All Staff % 2011 All Staff Number 2011 All Staff % 2019 All Staff Number 2019
Asian 0.5 212 0.7 219 0.3 5 0.4 4 2.6 224 2.8 207 0.9 441 1.1 430
Black 1.3 519 1.3 427 0.6 8 0.8 8 2.5 215 3.0 221 1.5 742 1.6 656
Mixed 1.2 473 1.8 577 1.2 17 1.3 14 0.9 82 1.3 93 1.2 572 1.7 684
White 96.5 38,061 95.7 30,285 97.7 1,407 97.5 1,034 93.3 8,143 92.0 6,693 96.0 47,611 95.0 38,012
Other inc Chinese 0.4 174 0.5 145 0.2 3 0.1 1 0.7 60 0.9 64 0.5 237 0.5 210
Unknown N/A* 3,921 N/A* 3,370 N/A* 116 N/A* 73 N/A* 624 N/A* 750 N/A* 4,661 N/A* 4,193

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of role over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of role over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Fire and rescue services workforce By ethnicity and type of role over time Summary

Percentages shown here are based on staff whose ethnicity was known.

This data shows that, from 2011 to 2019:

  • the number of firefighters decreased in every ethnic group except the Mixed and Asian groups, which had small increases
  • the number of White firefighters went down by 20% (from 38,061 to 30,285)
  • in comparison, the total number of firefighters from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other backgrounds went down by under 1% (from 1,378 to 1,368)
  • the percentage of firefighters who had Mixed ethnicity went up from 1.2% to 1.8%, the biggest increase out of all ethnic groups
  • the percentage of fire and rescue staff (in all roles) from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other backgrounds went up from 4.0% to 5.0%
  • the percentage of support staff from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other backgrounds went up from 6.7% to 8.0% (though the number of staff increased from 581 to 585)
  • the increase in the percentage of staff from Asian, Black and Other backgrounds is due mainly to the decrease in the number of White staff

4. By type of role within each ethnic group

Percentage and number of people in each ethnic group in the fire and rescue services, by type of role
Fire control Firefighters Support Staff
Ethnicity Fire control % Fire control Number Firefighters % Firefighters Number Support Staff % Support Staff Number
All 2.6 1,134 79.3 35,023 18.2 8,028
Asian 0.9 4 50.9 219 48.1 207
Black 1.2 8 65.1 427 33.7 221
Mixed 2.0 14 84.4 577 13.6 93
White 2.7 1,034 79.7 30,285 17.6 6,693
Other inc Chinese 0.5 1 69.0 145 30.5 64
Unknown N/A* 73 N/A* 3,370 N/A* 750

Download table data for ‘By type of role within each ethnic group’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By type of role within each ethnic group’ (CSV)

Summary of Fire and rescue services workforce By type of role within each ethnic group Summary

This data shows that, in 2019:

  • 79.7% of all White staff and 84.4% of those with Mixed ethnicity were firefighters
  • in comparison, 50.9% of all Asian staff, 65.1% of Black staff, and 69.0% of those from the Other (including Chinese) ethnic group were firefighters
  • 48.1% of all Asian staff were in support staff roles, compared with 17.6% of all White staff
  • staff from Black (33.7%) and Other (30.5%) backgrounds also had higher percentages in support staff roles than White staff

5. 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
Geography Asian % of firefighters Asian Number of firefighters Black % of firefighters Black Number of firefighters Mixed % of firefighters Mixed Number of firefighters White % of firefighters White Number of firefighters Other inc Chinese % of firefighters Other inc Chinese Number of firefighters Unknown % of firefighters Unknown Number of firefighters
Avon 0.0 0 0.8 5 0.8 5 97.8 614 0.6 4 N/A* 64
Bedfordshire 0.2 1 1.0 4 2.7 11 96.1 396 0.0 0 N/A* 17
Berkshire 0.4 2 0.7 3 1.3 6 97.3 438 0.2 1 N/A* 1
Buckinghamshire 0.3 1 0.6 2 2.2 7 96.9 308 0.0 0 N/A* 34
Cambridgeshire 0.5 2 0.2 1 2.0 8 97.3 391 0.0 0 N/A* 14
Cheshire 0.5 3 0.5 3 0.6 4 98.0 645 0.5 3 N/A* 14
Cleveland 0.5 2 0.5 2 0.2 1 98.6 433 0.2 1 N/A* 0
Cornwall 0.0 0 0.4 2 0.9 4 98.5 456 0.2 1 N/A* 130
Cumbria 0.2 1 0.2 1 0.0 0 99.3 442 0.2 1 N/A* 137
Derbyshire 0.8 5 0.0 0 0.8 5 98.3 633 0.2 1 N/A* 27
Devon and Somerset 0.0 0 0.1 1 0.6 9 99.2 1,556 0.2 3 N/A* 104
Dorset and Wiltshire 0.0 0 0.2 2 0.6 5 98.7 866 0.5 4 N/A* 128
Durham 0.0 0 0.9 4 1.4 6 97.7 418 0.0 0 N/A* 47
East Sussex 0.2 1 0.4 2 2.3 13 96.9 539 0.2 1 N/A* 31
England 0.7 219 1.3 427 1.8 577 95.7 30,285 0.5 145 N/A* 3,370
Essex 0.4 2 0.4 2 1.3 7 97.8 524 0.2 1 N/A* 593
Gloucestershire 0.9 3 0.6 2 1.2 4 97.0 322 0.3 1 N/A* 84
Greater London 1.8 84 5.3 247 4.8 220 86.6 4,004 1.4 66 N/A* 62
Greater Manchester 1.0 12 1.1 13 2.9 35 94.9 1,146 0.2 2 N/A* 160
Hampshire 0.2 3 0.1 1 0.5 6 99.0 1,191 0.2 2 N/A* 152
Hereford and Worcester 0.2 1 0.0 0 1.9 11 97.7 560 0.2 1 N/A* 17
Hertfordshire 1.1 7 0.8 5 1.2 8 96.3 632 0.6 4 N/A* 28
Humberside 0.1 1 0.5 4 0.8 6 98.6 773 0.0 0 N/A* 52
Isle Of Wight 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 100.0 151 0.0 0 N/A* 21
Isles of Scilly 0.0 0 2.4 1 0.0 0 97.6 41 0.0 0 N/A* 0
Kent 0.1 1 0.3 2 0.5 4 98.4 744 0.7 5 N/A* 383
Lancashire 1.1 12 0.3 3 1.1 11 97.0 1,014 0.5 5 N/A* 27
Leicestershire 0.4 2 0.4 2 1.8 9 97.5 501 0.0 0 N/A* 37
Lincolnshire 0.3 2 0.0 0 1.2 7 98.5 580 0.0 0 N/A* 18
Merseyside 0.0 0 0.9 7 3.7 29 94.1 744 1.4 11 N/A* 11
Norfolk 0.0 0 0.2 1 0.3 2 99.4 624 0.2 1 N/A* 100
North Yorkshire 0.3 2 0.2 1 0.2 1 99.0 571 0.3 2 N/A* 80
Northamptonshire 0.0 0 0.3 1 1.7 5 98.0 290 0.0 0 N/A* 146
Northumberland 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.7 2 99.3 274 0.0 0 N/A* 12
Nottinghamshire 0.9 6 0.9 6 2.2 15 96.0 651 0.0 0 N/A* 37
Oxfordshire 0.0 0 0.4 2 1.0 5 98.3 511 0.4 2 N/A* 55
Shropshire 0.0 0 1.0 4 0.3 1 98.7 385 0.0 0 N/A* 121
South Yorkshire 0.2 1 1.2 8 2.0 13 96.2 627 0.5 3 N/A* 1
Staffordshire 1.5 10 0.9 6 0.7 5 96.9 667 0.0 0 N/A* 2
Suffolk 0.0 0 0.2 1 1.4 6 97.7 421 0.7 3 N/A* 160
Surrey 0.7 4 0.2 1 1.2 7 97.9 550 0.0 0 N/A* 32
Tyne and Wear 0.5 3 0.2 1 1.0 6 97.7 561 0.5 3 N/A* 27
Warwickshire 0.9 3 1.3 4 0.9 3 96.8 307 0.0 0 N/A* 78
West Midlands 1.7 24 4.2 58 3.8 52 89.7 1,238 0.6 8 N/A* 25
West Sussex 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.4 2 99.4 505 0.2 1 N/A* 94
West Yorkshire 1.7 18 1.1 12 1.0 11 95.9 1,041 0.4 4 N/A* 7

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and area (firefighters only)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and area (firefighters only)’ (CSV)

Summary of Fire and rescue services workforce By ethnicity and area (firefighters only) Summary

Percentages shown here are based on staff whose ethnicity was known. The areas served by each fire and rescue service do not exactly match the geographical areas covered by Census data. Please use the population figures with caution.

This data shows that, in 2019:

  • London had the highest percentage of firefighters from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other backgrounds (13.4%) out of all fire and rescue services
  • by comparison, 40.2% of people in London were from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other backgrounds at the time of the 2011 Census
  • West Sussex (0.6%), Cumbria (0.6%) and Norfolk (0.7%) had the smallest percentage of firefighters from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other backgrounds
  • in the West Midlands, 10.3% of firefighters were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other backgrounds, compared with 29.9% of the general population

6. By ethnicity and duty type (firefighters only)

Percentage and number of firefighters from different ethnic groups, by type of duty
Full-time ('Wholetime') firefighters On-call ('retained') firefighters
Ethnicity Full-time ('Wholetime') firefighters % Full-time ('Wholetime') firefighters Number On-call ('retained') firefighters % On-call ('retained') firefighters Number
Asian 0.9 198 0.2 21
Black 1.9 398 0.3 29
Mixed 2.4 500 0.7 77
White 94.2 19,974 98.6 10,311
Other inc Chinese 0.6 123 0.2 22
Unknown N/A* 1,608 N/A* 1,762

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and duty type (firefighters only)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and duty type (firefighters only)’ (CSV)

Summary of Fire and rescue services workforce By ethnicity and duty type (firefighters only) Summary

Percentages shown here are based on staff whose ethnicity was known.

This data shows that, in 2019:

  • staff from Asian, Black, Mixed and Other backgrounds made up 5.8% of all full-time firefighters and 1.4% of all on-call firefighters

7. 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 checked by the Home Office before publication.

Rounding

Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place. They are worked out using unrounded numbers. For this reason, some totals in the charts and tables may not add up to 100%.

Related publications

Fire statistics.

Quality and methodology information

8. 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.

9. Download the data

Fire and Rescue Service Workforce - Spreadsheet (csv) 41 KB

This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, year, fire and rescue service area, type of role, type of duty, percentage, number.