Humberside Fire and Rescue Service is to receive national recognition for its commitment to Britain’s Armed Forces.
The Service, which employs 1,100 people and has its headquarters in Hull, has won a Silver Award under the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme.
The scheme recognises employers of all sizes who employ and support reservists, veterans, the military and their families. The Service itself employs more than 100 reservists and veterans and has introduced new policies and procedures to ensure they are treated fairly – including by giving 15 days extra leave a year to reservists to enable them to do their annual mandatory training.
Station Manager Terry Taylor, who served in the Royal Engineers before becoming a firefighter, said: “We have 30 stations across Humberside and there aren’t many that don’t include a couple of veterans or reservists.
“Over the last couple of years we’ve made a real effort to ensure we offer a forces-friendly working environment. We’ve introduced small cultural changes such as encouraging veterans to wear their military ribbons on their fire service uniforms.
“But we’ve also made wider changes. For example, we now have gold-standard policies in place to support reservists who are deployed on active service, making sure we keep in touch with their families and ensuring nobody suffers a break in their pension contributions.”
Watch Manager Mark McKenzie became a firefighter twenty years ago after serving in the Royal Engineers. He has been a reservist in the Royal Engineers for the past 12 years. He said: “I used to keep it quiet that I was in the reserves but things have changed in the service and there’s now an open acceptance and I genuinely feel that my role and experience in the military is something that is very much valued.
“I’ve been deployed to Afghanistan as a reservist during my time with the Service and managers were very supportive and made sure I didn’t lose out in anyway.
“I value the support the service gives to the military and feel it’s made a big difference.”
Now in its fifth year, the ERS Silver Awards reward employers who employ and support those who serve, veterans and their families – typically by putting in place employment practices that support reservists to train and mobilise and veterans to transition to civilian life. The RFCA Yorkshire and The Humber run the scheme on behalf of the Ministry of Defence in the region.
Commenting on the announcement of the 2019 Employer Recognition Scheme Silver awards, Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace said: “These awards recognise the outstanding support for our armed forces from employers across Britain and I would like to thank and congratulate each and every one.
“Regardless of size, location or sector, employing ex-forces personnel is good for business and this year we have doubled the number of awards in recognition of the fantastic support they give.”
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Johnny Mercer said: “Veterans make a huge contribution to businesses across the country and it’s fantastic to see a record breaking number of organisations recognised for their support.
“We’re working closely with businesses to help them further understand the huge value that veterans, reservists and military spouses can bring to their organisation.”
ERS Silver Award winners from across Yorkshire and The Humber will be presented with their awards at a special ceremony in Bradford attended by all four Lord Lieutenants of the region on Thursday, October 17.