Positive impact: The FBU's black and ethnic minority members National Secretary Samantha Samuels offers some reflections on 'positive action'.(Learning & Development)(Fire Brigades Union)

A POSTER SHOWING A WOMAN firefighter holding a small child in her arms was my first image of the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service. It was also the image that inspired me to 'have a go' and see if I could also be a firefighter myself--to try and feel the same pride and relief that the woman obviously felt in her job.

Before joining the Fire and Rescue Service had never even thought about whether the other firefighters would be black or white, male or female. I never thought that it would matter--as long as all the firefighters knew how to put fires out properly.

When I invited my family to my passing out parade (and I had to turn some of them away as they all wanted to come) it was one of the proudest moments of my career. It was also a landmark, however, in that I became only the second woman to join the West Midlands Fire Service, and also the very first black woman. I did not become aware this until my first day on station with my new watch.

As it turned out, my entrance into the Fire Service made me an enemy of many who I had not even met, that were not impressed that I was 'allowed' to do what was at that time one of 'their' jobs. …

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