There has been a surge in applications to become a firefighter after the capital’s fire authority dropped a residency rule aimed at boosting diversity but which instead left it understrength.
Introduced in 2015, the residency rule initially required applicants to demonstrate they’d lived in London for at least three years.
The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority had hoped the rule would help attract more applications from London’s diverse communities and address their under-representation in the London Fire Brigade’s ranks.
However, in addition to failing to deliver any significant increase in recruit diversity, the rule caused the overall number of applications to plummet.
A report presented to the authority last January warned that while “the average number of applications in 2008-11 was 6,833; the average number in 2015-16 has been only 17% of this figure, 1,166.”
In response to the lower than expected number of applications, authority members initially reduced and then abandoned the minimum residency period.
The following month the Brigade started a new recruitment drive which, according to a report presented last week, attracted a total of 5,232 applications – a marked increase on the “total of c3,400 applications” achieved by three previous 2017 recruitment campaigns.
The report says around 200 candidates will complete the various stages of the Brigade’s recruitment process, providing “a strong foundation to achieve our target of 400 new firefighters.”