On 12 and 13 June, the CERN Fire and Rescue service (CFRS) hosted the 18th meeting of the Commission for Women in Fire and Rescue Services of the CTIF (Comité technique international de prévention et d’extinction de feu), an international association of firefighters.
The CTIF was founded in 1900 with the aim to better understand and continuously improve working conditions for firefighters through ongoing dialogue, analysis and sharing of lessons learned from incidents, accidents and fires throughout the world. Its membership spans 38 countries. The CTIF publishes scientific research, articles and reports. It operates through various commissions, working groups, events and seminars.
The first Women’s Committee of CTIF was formed in 1912. Its activities were interrupted by the First World War and it was not reformed until exactly 100 years later, in 2012, when the Commission for Women in Fire and Rescue Services was created to increase the participation of women in the field, share good practice and research and work on issues regarding gender and equal opportunities. The Commission has addressed, inter alia, harassment, maternity and pregnancy-related practices, and equipment issues.
Fifteen representatives of the Commission, hailing from more than 10 different countries, came to CERN to share best practices and exchange views on the challenges of promoting diversity in the field. The Commission’s decision to select Switzerland and, in particular, CERN as the location for their meeting was inspired by the 2022 CFRS recruitment campaign for firefighters and fire officers that resulted in perfect gender parity: the CFRS hired four women and four men. The combined efforts of the CERN Fire and Rescue service, the HSE communications team, IR-ECO and HR on the one hand, and CTIF on the other hand to increase the number of female applications contributed to this result.
As illustrated by their joint hosting of this event, HSE, the CFRS and HR hope to continue their collaboration in order to maintain this momentum for future recruitment campaigns. Beyond being aligned with CERN policy, the CFRS and the leaders of the HSE unit strongly believe in establishing a diverse and gender-balanced workforce.
The event also included a tour of CERN and, in particular, of the CFRS premises, following which the experienced CTIF experts from all over the world provided valuable feedback on steps the CFRS could take to improve and enhance its operations.