SCOTLAND’S fire service is attempting to shed its “macho” image in a nationwide drive to recruit gay officers.
Posters have been distributed in gay bars and clubs across the country as part of the equality campaign.
Four of Scotland’s eight fire brigades are behind the move, which has also seen firefighters taking part in a series of gay fairs and parades where they have tried to get the equal opportunities message across.
The fire service hopes the move by the Lothian and Borders, Fife, Central and Dumfries and Galloway brigades will dispel the perception that firefighters must always be white, male and straight.
Two other brigades, Grampian and Tayside, have also been given “diversity champion” status by the gay campaign group Stonewall Scotland for their equal opportunities policies.
Ross Wynn, the equalities manager at Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, said there had been a sea change in attitudes towards recruiting from the gay community, and other minority groups.
He said: “We’ve had a fire service funded by the taxpayer in Edinburgh since 1824. Since then we’ve been drawing from one pool only – white males, usually of a certain sexual orientation.
“But recently we made a decision that we needed to look at all the talent in the community, so we can provide the best service.
“The fire service in Scotland is wanting to make itself appeal to the gay community. That’s been on the agenda across the country in the past few months.”
Mr Wynn said the brigade would work to introduce initiatives aimed at producing a “gay-friendly” workplace, such as having staff forums for gay and lesbian employees.