Putting out the fires of discrimination

Putting out the fires of discrimination - Diabetes UK launches its report on diabetes and the fire service

Diabetes is launching today its Diabetes and the Fire Service Survey Report, which looks at how the Fire and Rescue Service has accommodated personnel with diabetes since the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was extended to cover the emergency services in October 2004. The report will be officially launched later on today at a parliamentary reception where speakers will include Angela Smith MP, Minister of State for Fire Service. 

The findings of the report are broadly positive and show that having diabetes is no longer a barrier to having a successful career within the service. Under the DDA it is now unlawful for an employer to operate blanket bans on the recruitment of people with diabetes.  Similarly, if an employee develops diabetes whilst in employment, reasonable adjustments must be made to accommodate them. 

The report also highlights a variety of issues such as: confusion around current driving guidelines; inconsistencies around the application of individual medical assessment; the length of time taken to individually assess firefighters and in some cases a lack of diabetes awareness.  To address these issues, the Diabetes UK report also contains recommendations that offer a way forward to ensure that any failures or inconsistencies that may be occurring can be tackled.

Simon O’Neill Director of Care, Information and Advocacy Services said, “This report shows a  detailed picture of what is currently happening within the Fire and Rescue Service.  We know that there is no reason why firefighters and control staff with well-controlled diabetes should not be able to carry out their duties. This report helps us reinforce the message that each person with diabetes must be individually assessed before any decision is taken regarding their fitness to undertake duties.  The recommendations contained in this report will help us to promote good practice and start a constructive dialogue with employers.”

Diabetes UK compiled the report with the support of the following organisations: the International Register of Firefighters with Diabetes (IRFD), the National Disabled Fire Association,  the Chief Fire Officers' association, the Fire Officers’Association, the Retained Firefighters Union, the Fire Brigades Union and the Disability Rights Commission. 

A copy of the report will be sent to each fire and rescue service in the UK. Copies of the report can also be downloaded from the Diabetes UK website at www.diabetes.org.uk.

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