Code of conduct and ethics in the fire service matters so that firefighters to have trust one another and this can’t happen without a workplace culture that values integrity and moral. Ethics is also essential to the citizens so they can have faith and trust firefighters to keep them protected and safe.
Ethics is defined as the comprehension of what is right and what is wrong within the moral context. Philosophical ethics is the study of morality through rational means guided in human well-being and safety. There are three approaches of philosophical ethics and they are; virtue ethics, deontology ethics and utilitarianism ethics. Nevertheless, different cultures and communities have different perception of what is right or wrong due to their religious beliefs, individual principles and cultural practices. Regardless of the situation ethics are expressed that individuals choose to do the right thing.
London Fire Brigade (LFB) fire service aims to make the environment more sustainable and their ambition is to help everyone breath cleaner and safer by running zero emission fleet by 2050. Furthermore, their goal is by 2025 to reduce their CO2 emissions by 60%. LFB has successfully has built energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy because of this they have now reduced their carbon emissions further accomplishing 39% reduction through 1990. And now they are dedicated to reduce their “environmental impact including carbon emissions, waste production, air pollution, biodiversity and adapt to climate changes taking place.” (LFB 2020)
Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFR) has a strict Code of Conduct that firefighters must follow to act responsibility and with integrity on and off the job. Employees must agree to be fair, respect diversity and to reject discrimination based on race, religion, age or ethnicity. The Equality Act 2010 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in the society. Also, it covers nine protected characteristics such as age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion and so on that should not be treated unfairly. The Equality act sets out the different ways that are illegal to treat someone, for example harassment, discrimination and victimisation. At HWFR they recognise and appreciate diversity and they want to make their workplace even more diverse. In their Code of Conduct they said “capturing and valuing the diversity of our workforce is a positive outcome, which is based on firm business goals.” (HWFR 2020) All the firefighters at HWFR should follow these three cases to respect equality and diversity at the workplace, which are the moral case, the legal case and the business case. The moral case means that all staff should be treated with respect and dignity. This means that “it is morally unacceptable to unfairly discriminate” someone at the workplace. The legal case includes The Equality Act 2010, which protects everyone against any unfair treatment and if anyone is mistreated, they have the right to seek help through the law, such as employment tribunals, criminal and civil courts. Lastly, the business case means whenever an employee treats everyone with respect and dignity should be selected for promotion, training and development on ability and merit. “This is proven that an organisation that respects and nurtures the diverse range of skills and abilities of its workforce will be successful.”
According to Home Office figures, in 2016 of the 34,400 firefighters employed in England 95% were male, which means that only 5% were female and this is less than police officers (29%) and paramedics (38%). This could be because the fire service has always been a primarily and predominantly male profession worldwide. The typical “musclebound stereotypes” of firefighters has made women worried to join the workforce. Fortunately, the terminology of “firemen” has changed to “firefighter” and has become universally accepted in NFPA training in English speaking countries. Some reasons for less women at fire services are a lack of information available for young girls at school and this job not being suitable for mothers with young children, also sexual harassment is another reason, which is a form of discrimination, under the Civil Rights Act, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender” (The Civil Rights Act 1964). In 1993 Networking Women in the Fire Service (NWFS) was established to enable and inspire “confident and successful women to build a more progressive Fire and Rescue Service.” (WFS 2020) Their aim is to enable women to reach their full potential in life and to support gender equality in the UK, also to encourage more women to join the fire service to encourage role models for the younger generation. We can see that the number of women joining the fire service is slowly increasing because in 2019 6.4% of firefighters were women compared in 2009, which only 3.6% were women. This shows that there’s less discrimination against women in fire service professions compared to 10 years ago, but this number could increase.
In conclusion, more firefighters are aware of their rights due to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The fire service has been changing over the last thirty to forty years, with the inclusions of different types of minorities that have been entering the fire service. And the law supports and protects the women and minority ethnic groups in the workplace. Finally, the matter of discrimination, inequality and sexism has now been brought in the attention of the organisation issues, and if the organisation does not follow the law deals with them.