Female officer oversees all training in Service

Amy Bailey

To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, we’re profiling different female fire service staff this week, all of whom play a vital role in Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service.

Today we meet Group Commander Amy Bailey, who as the officer in charge of all training is at the centre of the service, combining her experience as a firefighter with many years of training expertise.

Describing what she does, Amy says:

“As the Group Commander responsible for training provision in HWFRS, I oversee our training centre in Droitwich.

“Having worked my way up as a training instructor, I understand the importance of training our operational staff to meet the risks that are reasonably foreseeable for their roles, and ensuring that their training uses national best practice and standards.

“It’s the same with our support staff – providing training in the skills we need both now and in the future to help keep the public safe.”

Amy joined the Fire Service at 22 and feels that right from the start, one of the best aspects of her career has been the ability to gain experience in different departments including training, as she has progressed.

Having now been in the service for 20 years with no barriers put in her way, Amy says there has never been a better time to seize the opportunity to challenge perceptions around jobs that have traditionally been seen as male roles:

“Whether it is the Fire Service or anything else, if you set your mind to it you can do it. Everybody has skills they can bring to an organisation and nobody should let their gender, age or race hold them back. In the Fire Service, if you don’t have the skills needed for your next role or challenge, we’ll teach them to you.

“We fully understand the benefits of a workforce where people have different backgrounds, experiences and education and try to harness these attributes in our approach to training, operational duties and support activities”.

Being married and having her two children, who are still quite young, while working in the service has never stood in the way of her progress, says Amy:

“Like many workplaces, HWFRS offers opportunities to work flexibly and we are always striving to remove barriers for progression. When people hear what my job comprises, they want to know all about it and are really interested to learn about all the different roles and the variety of activities that we undertake.

“We offer different shift patterns, flexible and part time working and make a point of encouraging staff to talk about any issues that they’re experiencing – we’re continually looking at ways to improve our support for our people.”

Amy urges anyone worried that being an on-call firefighter, or balancing this as a full time career with family commitments, might be too much of a juggling act, to contact their local station and chat to the staff there.

“Being a woman in the Fire Service has never held me back – I’ve felt a full member of the team since I first walked onto a station 20 years ago and that hasn’t stopped as my career has progressed.

“Our women’s network – Women@HWFire – is invaluable in supporting new and existing female staff, helping us look at specific female issues such as maternity and menopause, and tackling the issues that might prevent women form joining HWFRS.

“For example, the network supported our Women’s Fitness Programme for female firefighter applicants in 2020. This helps remove some of the myths around the role of a firefighter – that it’s all about being big and strong. Which it isn’t. It helped us be very clear with people as to exactly what was expected of them.”

Amy’s parting shot? “What you can offer might be exactly what we need.”

If you’d like to know how to join the Fire Service and make a difference in a wide variety of roles, you can find out more at Join us | Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (hwfire.org.uk)