Disability of one kind or another affects a high proportion of the population.
To meet the needs of people with different disabilities requires a range of very different solutions and we have undertaken a lot of training to raise disability awareness of our staff to help them in their work. This includes training for staff taking emergency calls, for firefighters in how to rescue fire or crash victims with disabilities and awareness training for managers.
In the community
- Disability is included as a characteristic in our community profile of Kent and Medway.
- Disability can be a risk factor in relation to fire and many measures have been put in place to help people stay safe such as vibrating smoke alarms for deaf people.
- In particular, we have identified sight, hearing, and mobility as factors which increase risks in the home.
- We have been reducing fire risks for disabled people for many years – we are using this experience to explore other risks with partners, especially in relation to elderly and frail people.
- We work closely with a range of disability groups and organisations to ensure we understand the needs of people with various disabilities, including mental health issues.
- We have provided firefighters with training and specialist equipment for rescuing people with disabilities.
- We provide a 999 text service for deaf and speech impaired members of the public.
The Kent Fire and Rescue Service website follows AA accessibility standards, and audio-enablement function allows 'read aloud' facility of text for users with visual impairment as well as a full range of other accessibility functions
In the workplace
- While our statistics show relatively low numbers of staff with a disability, we know that the number of people with some kind of disability is probably higher than that declared. We are therefore introducing measures to encourage people to declare their disability so we can provide help and assistance where it is needed.
- We have supported a large number of employees with disabilities through adjustments to equipment and premises, flexible working provisions, sign language facilities, training and dyslexia/literacy programmes. An example of this is a new computer tool for staff with dyslexia.
- We have a disability recruitment, retention and redeployment procedure in place to ensure fair treatment for disabled applicants and those who become disabled whilst working for us.
- We have a disability staff group which not only provides support for staff with disabilities but also provides information and guidance for other staff and managers.
- Acknowledging the stressful nature of the work, Kent Fire and Rescue Service staff have a range of support on offer including external resources such as Big White Wall, as well as a Wellbeing Zone on our intranet with helpful information for staff on health issues.