Fire & Rescue

Kate Blake: Inspiring the next generation of Women in Fire Safety

In this Q&A, co-founder of Women in Fire Safety, Kate Blake describes the impact the award ceremony has in encouraging the next generation of women to go into the industry as well as plans and future vision for the event.

The inspiration behind creating this event with Chloe Vickery

Chloe and I met in the industry; we definitely had a lot of shared experiences which helped. There would be occasions when I would turn up for work appointments and I’d get comments saying, ‘I expected a man’ and you’d get this quite often.

With myself being in my 50s now it is something I’ve been used to for many years, and I wanted to explore why there weren’t many women at these events. Really the motivations behind it were the lack of diversity within the industry and the need for sustainability.

The importance of FireAngel as a headline event partner and feedback from attendees

It is massively important to us, these events run by Chloe and myself are outside our day jobs and we’ve never been trained by event managers.

We rely very heavily on partners being there to support and help us, FireAngel are so on board with this particularly Natasha Shanker and Bethan Ford who have been a massive help with the event planning. We are very careful who we take on as partners as it should be something we all benefit from.

In terms of events, every year has been different in each way, the first event only had 50 people who attended and we were astonished that many people showed up with it being such a new concept.

For me just seeing people being recognised for what they do where they may not normally be recognised for it in any other area, and this, in turn, can help inspire people in the industry to have more confidence to put themselves forward for different awards.

This year we had so many nominations, each year the list of nominations has grown, as it has become more competitive. Seeing them actually win and what it actually means to them to have that recognition is great.

The feedback has been incredible, and we will soon be releasing our video of the year from the event which will be exciting for everyone.

Shining a light on those who deserve the spotlight and the global expansion the awards ceremonies have generated

We cover awards such as the administrator of the year which may not normally be covered but we feel we needed to recognise those people doing the job behind the scenes.

It is timing more than anything for Chloe and myself when it comes to serving international audiences, we have been talking to people in America about it, but it is just fitting in the time around our normal day jobs.

We have talked about scaling the award ceremony to an international audience, it has massive potential to grow, I think we are looking at organising some international conferences in the future.

I know the winner this year from Poland said they have nothing like this in her country, she was excited to win her award.

Inspiring the next generation of women in the fire industry

There is still a lot of work to be done, when we first started it was a two-pronged approach, and originally, we wanted to go into schools and start talking to people, but it is a timing thing.

As women in fire safety grow, we will be looking for more ways to inspire the future generation going into the fire safety industry so expect more to come.

Looking ahead to the future

We look at changes every year, some are more popular than others, and sometimes you have to work a little bit harder on certain awards, we have thought about including awards like the ‘architecture of the year’. Previously we have come up with really great ideas that have had to be scrapped.

Ultimately if you go to a Women in Fire Safety event there are a lot of women in attendance but if you go to another event they would be in the minority, we want it to be women and men working together.

FireAngel are proud to have been headline sponsor of the awards and what a fantastic evening it was to see many women recognised for their hard work and achievements. Discover more information on the Women in Fire Safety Awards, including viewing this year’s award categories.