Cheshire East fire chiefs were celebrating today, after scooping Britain’s top ‘equality award’. With budget cuts across the county leading to station closures and redundancies, the service is now recognised as an equal lack of opportunities unemployer.
“We’re proud of this diverse and equal award”, gushed Derek Fulmer of the Fire Authority. “We had to fill in a hell of a lot of forms to achieve this.” From a starting point with only a handful of minorities available to lay off, Fulmer’s team had to work hard to build a more inclusive force before they could let them all go.
After an initial 3-month inspection by the Fire Service Equality Framework, Fulmer was disgusted to learn just how few disabled firemen were on active duty. “It was incredibly expensive, but we’ve managed to convert all our fire engines for wheelchair use”, he explained, “and thanks to a positive discrimination recruitment drive, we found some paraplegics to people them. Now it’s not just standard trucks that we’re selling for scrap: there’s some fully accessible vehicles being crushed, too.”
Cheshire East managed to build one of the most wheat-intolerant emergency services in the country, although many have now ‘drawn the short straw’. But with cold water and smoke playing havoc with so many officers’ eczema and asthma, most fires burned themselves out during the initial risk assessment stage of emergency responses.
“Obviously, it’s a shame to break up a team that’s so statistically representative of society ”, admitted Fulmer. “We had to a hire a termination consultant, rather than firing people willy-nilly.” With budgets too tight to risk any lengthy legal claims of discrimination, the force is unincluding the stereotypically able-bodied male fire workers first.
Fulmer sought to assure the citizens of Cheshire that despite the cuts, they were still perfectly safe. “We’re still here to mediate a solution to unwanted thermal situations”, he insisted. “But it would be fairer if you could have them in an accessible bungalow.”