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The ESF in Sweden

A multicultural fire service


Fire personnel training exercise
© Istockphoto/ Alan Crawford

Regional emergency services in Sweden are taking steps to train local firefighters with immigrant backgrounds to meet local needs

After ten months of training, an ESF co-funded apprenticeship project in Rescue Service South (Rsyd) and Landskrona emergency services came to an end, and 22 apprentices – 10 of them women – received their fire-fighting diplomas. The project’s target group was unemployed young people between 18 and 24 years old and with a multicultural background. Those with disabilities could also take part. The two emergency services have been criticised for arranging their own firefighter training when there is a national qualification, but Ms Gunilla Jansson, development manager of Rsyd, thinks that they had little choice. “Our mission is to prevent and reduce risks for citizens. For us to be successful we need to have more points of contact with the community. Then it is a great advantage that our employees' backgrounds reflect the society we serve. Today, there are not enough firefighters with a multicultural background, or female firefighters, so we organised this training ourselves, she explained.