THE number of women joining Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has increased by almost 900 per cent.

It comes after a campaign was released by the service to promote the role of a firefighter to underrepresented groups, which led to 13 women out of 41 new recruits beginning their careers in the emergency fire service.

According to the Hampshire team, the standard of applicants was so high this year that a talent pool was created for a total of 70 successful candidates for either this intake or future roles.

Their previous recruitment drive at the end of 2017 was made up of 27 men and one woman and before this, the organisation had not recruited for eight years.

Seven of the new firefighters are from Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, compared to zero in the previous intake of recruits.

Inclusion and diversity manager Leanne Illman said: “We had a targeted recruitment campaign in which we tried to remove historic barriers that may have previously prevented people from considering the fire service as a career.

“This increase is great news but there is still more to do to ensure people from all underrepresented groups in our communities know the fire service is a fantastic place to work.”

Of the new intake, 23 candidates were existing on-call firefighters who have now become full-time recruits, while 18 were taken on from outside the fire service.

Chief fire officer Neil Odin said: “Diversity is the lifeblood of any healthy organisation and I am delighted more people from our underrepresented groups are considering careers with us.

“Our new firefighters should feel incredibly proud to have reached the high standards we demand to wear the uniform of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service – we are certainly proud of them.”