The capital’s fire authority has dropped a requirement that all new potential firefighters must live in the capital after it left the fire brigade short staffed.
Introduced in 2015 in an effort to boost diversity, the ‘London residency requirement’ initially required applicants to demonstrate they’d lived in London for at least three years before applying.
This was reduced to 12 months in January and has now been dropped entirely.
Instead of boosting the diversity of applicants, the rule simply led to a reduction in the number of applications.
As result, and as reported by MayorWatch in January, members of the London Fire and Emergency Fire Authority – which oversees the brigade – were warned the brigade would end the 2016/17 financial year 93 firefighters below strength.
This week the BBC revealed the shortfall had significantly worsened, with the brigade now so under staffed “that some fire engines had to be taken out of service.”
As well as leading to a reduction in the number of applications, the London residency rule failed to deliver the increased diversity originally hoped for.
Authority members have now agreed to drop the residency rule following warnings from officers that it was simply impeding efforts to fully staff the brigade.
Dr Fiona Twycross, the Authority’s chair, said: “We need to recruit more firefighters and have changed our approach to make sure we get the volume as well as the diversity and skills of applicants needed.
“We still want to reach people, especially women, who don’t realise what a professional career they could have, in which they can make such a difference to the community.
“The application process is thorough so we need to offer people help.
“Recruitment days and outreach teams will help potential applicants meet the fitness standards but also understand more about what the Brigade are looking for in the selection process.”
Members have also dropped a separate rule that candidates to hold a full manual driving licence at the time of their application.