Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Essex emergency services celebrate International Womens Day together

Staff from Essex’s emergency services are holding a virtual conference today to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Each year on 8 March, colleagues from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust and Essex Police hold a conference to celebrate International Women’s Day.

The annual event celebrates the achievements of women in the emergency services and colleagues will have the opportunity to hear from motivational speakers from different emergency services. 

The event will be opened by the chiefs of each service who will thank colleagues for their work over the last year and is once again being hosted by Jane Gardner, Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex.

Jane said: “I am immensely proud to be hosting this event this year for International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness against both conscious and unconscious bias. 

“This year’s theme is about breaking the bias and I am proud to say that across our emergency services and throughout Essex, we live and work in a place where difference is valued and celebrated.  But there are still improvements to be made, and collectively we are all striving for equality and continue to make positive gains.”

Rick Hylton, Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: “This is the second time I’ve had the honour of being a part of this event, and I’m going to highlight the same thing I said last time. Yes – I’m a man, talking at an IWD event. But equality isn’t solely a women’s issue, it’s a business and economic issue. It’s everyone’s role to forge a more gender balanced world, and to come together to break the bias.

“In my role as Chief Fire Officer, I want our Service to be one of the best in the UK. That means our communities are safe, and our people have the opportunity to thrive. We have focused on having a culture that is safe and fair. Our recruitment is transparent, and we continuously seek to attract underrepresented groups through positive action. Traditionally, the Fire Service has been seen as a man’s world. But that has and continues to change. We don’t expect – or want – women who join the Service to succeed in a man’s world. We want them to just succeed – forge their own path, determine their own future, and add value to what we deliver.”

Essex Police’s Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington said: “This year’s theme, #BreakTheBias, is incredibly important to me and to our force. We strive to celebrate and embrace diversity.

“It is so important that we gain and maintain the trust and confidence of the communities we work with and on behalf of.

“This means ensuring that our workforce is representative of these communities. For this to happen, we must, and do, welcome the great breadth of ideas, opinions and problem-solving approaches which all our police officers and staff bring to the job through their varied backgrounds, their life experiences and their cognitive diversity.

“And I am proud to say that, currently, nearly half of our officers and staff, 46%, are women, who bring their own unique perspectives to policing.

“We’re so lucky to benefit from the knowledge and skills of brilliant women across the force in all roles and at all ranks and levels who are paving the way for others to continue doing so in the future.

“Essex Police tries to ensure that all our officers and staff can be their very best selves at work so they can help people, keep them safe and catch criminals to keep our communities safe from harm.”

Marika Stephenson, Director of People Services at the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: 

“It is an honour to be a guest speaker at this virtual conference to celebrate International Women’s Day with colleagues from emergency services in Essex.  

“The conference is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of women in the emergency services and the theme of this year’s event is breaking the bias and imagining a gender equal world.  

“Collectively, we are all working hard to tackle all forms of bias, whether conscious or unconscious, and building an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination.” 

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service works daily to ensure its staff feel empowered in their role regardless of gender, race, sexuality or background. That includes support through a number of staff networks including its Women’s Forum and LGBTQ+ support network, BEING.

Could you join Essex County Fire and Rescue Service? Head over to to see what roles the Service has on offer.

Page last updated 8 March 2022

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