FIRE AID attends AFSA Development Day
FIRE AID recently attended Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s (KFRS) cultural development day at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Gravesend. The event was hosted in partnership with one of our members, the Asian Fire Service Association (AFSA). The idea of the day was to share knowledge and understanding about Sikh, Roma and Polish communities in Kent, with colleagues from the AFSA, and other fire, police and health services. The Asian Fire Service Association’s work encourages services to gain a better understanding of how to build relationships, encourage diversity and communication with emergency service organisations.
The day involved a guided tour of the Gurdwara from Jagdev Virdee, from the Gurdwara’s engagement and welfare team, KFRS’ Sher Sing Clare and Harjit Singh from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Jagdev said: “We talked about the core values of Sikhism, the community facilities provided by the Gurdwara and points of etiquette that emergency service staff should be aware of when visiting a Sikh home.”
He also outlined some of the ways that KFRS is working with the local Sikh community, including community safety education sessions and cultural awareness and recruitment opportunities.
Dartford Crew Manager, Przemyslaw Augustyniak, a firefighter with KFRS since 2008, spoke about his personal experience of the cultural differences between Polish and Eastern European communities and the ways that KFRS had been working to encourage diversity into the fire service.
Przemyslaw said: “We’re working for customers from different backgrounds, so it’s important that we understand their culture and are inclusive to gain better trust, cooperation and to keep the community safe.”
Juliette Wales from the Red Zebra, Roma in the Lead project spoke about the importance of firefighters being able to engage with the Roma community to make sure they have more knowledge and information around issues such as fire safety, but also to encourage Roma people to join the fire service and aspire for more.
The day also helped build relationships between services and communities and everyone present learned a huge amount about different communities. Jagtar Singh, National Advisor with the AFSA explained: “These types of event are absolutely crucial. They help dismiss myths about faith and so called hard to reach communities, there’s no such thing. They help us share our community safety messages and save lives. We’re also reaching out to people who have never considered us as a career.”
Karen Irvine, Assistant Director of Human Resources, said: “Valuing and understanding the differences in our diverse communities is essential not only to keep people safe but to encourage people to think about joining us for a career with the fire service in the future.
“We are very grateful to the Gurdwara for hosting this event and to our colleagues who travelled from across the country to join us for this important day of shared learning.”
In the afternoon the group visited KFRS’ Road Safety Experience in Rochester. The facilities on offer at the Road Safety Experience are aimed at educating young people on road safety. The centre is really impressive and has successfully found new, innovative and engaging ways to send powerful messages to its audience. If you want the chance to experience the centre find out more by clicking: Road Safety Experience
FIRE AID would like to take this opportunity to thank AFSA for an interesting and enjoyable day at the Gurdwara.