North Yorkshire Firefighter Named Rising Star

Published 12th Apr 2023

Arwen Bailey, an On-Call Firefighter for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) has been named ‘Firefighter Rising Star Award’ winner in the Women in the Fire Service Awards 2023.

Arwen, who joined North Yorkshire FRS as a firefighter at Skipton Fire Station, was nominated in the national awards for remarkable contributions to the Fire Service.

The ‘Firefighter Rising Star’ category recognises individuals who have demonstrated a determination to succeed in their role and been an advocate and ambassador on gender equality and empowerment issues.

About Arwen

 Arwen was described as “the first to volunteer” and someone who “delved deep into the local community, helping people make better choices”. The award entry described how Arwen developed and ran a new project for NYFRS aimed at girls aged 13-15 to benefit from a 6-week summer programme. This included team building exercises designed to build self confidence, teamwork, and insights into jobs traditionally male dominated. The project was all practical, appealing to those who thrive best when being active and away from the classroom – all whilst learning and demonstrating new skills and abilities.

Launching the project just 8 months after joining NYFRS, Arwen used her own positive experiences of joining the Service to provide guidance to others that she had felt lacking earlier in her own life. Arwen arranged for several women from other Blue Light Services to speak at the summer programme. The project was a great success, and the senior leadership team at NYFRS are keen for Arwen to grow and develop the programme. Arwen holds a voluntary position within NYFRS as a Violence Against Women & Girls Ambassador, while being a single parent to two high school aged children.

Arwens’s nominator Ben Williams, Firefighter at North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service at the time of nomination, said:

Arwen is an extraordinary woman, and one of the oldest (at 47) female joiners to our service. She has a relentlessly positive attitude, has thrived in her role as an active firefighter at one of the busiest retained stations in the county, and her views on encouraging young women to ignore gender stereotypes and investigate options in a once male dominated world makes her something special.

“She’s known within the town as ‘that tattooed lady firefighter’, and takes great satisfaction and pride in her position within the community. I can’t think of a better person to ride next to me on the pump when we’re required to do something difficult and challenging. And I can’t think of anyone better suited to showing the wider community how welcome, effective and valuable women can be to the fire service, and none of the 21 of us at Skipton Fire Station would be without her.”

Speaking on the notification of her award, Arwen said:

I’m so proud and grateful to win the WFS Rising Star award against such strong competition and am delighted that NYFRS’s support of my work with young women has been recognised. Working as an active firefighter in Skipton gives me a great deal of personal pride and satisfaction, and developing projects to show the young women and girls in our community that there’s a whole range of options open to them in the Fire Service is such a delight. As a more mature (!) joiner to the service juggling parenting two young boys, it shows that anything is possible with enough resilience and determination. I’m enormously grateful to the judging panel for recognising this and for all of my colleagues at Skipton Fire Station and the wider NYFRS team for all the encouragement and support, particularly Group Manager Peel and Station Manager Hughes.”

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer Jonathan Dyson, said:

“We are extremely proud of Arwen. Her enthusiasm in using personal experience to support, develop and guide girls and young women to thrive and build confidence is fantastic.

Arwen has made a hugely positive impact in her local community and across the service and we’re honoured Arwen is part of the North Yorkshire Fire Service team.”

About Women in the Fire Service

Women in the Fire Service UK is a not-for-profit organisation who work together with its corporate members and offer support and advice to all FRS’s to advance equality in the sector.

Caroline Anderson, WFS Vice-Chair and award panel judge, said:

Arwen hasn’t been in the Fire Service for long but her relentlessly positive attitude has helped her to thrive in her role as an active firefighter. Arwen takes great satisfaction and pride in her position within the community encouraging young women to ignore gender stereotypes to showing the wider community how welcome, effective and valuable women can be to the fire service.

The Institution of Fire Engineers, were the ‘Firefighter Rising Star Award’ category sponsor. Steve Hamm, CEO of the Institution of Fire Engineers, added:

We’re so pleased to be sponsoring the Women in the Fire Service’s Firefighter Rising Star Award. It’s heartening to see the sheer dedication and varied skill set of budding talent across the fire and rescue service. Our congratulations go to Arwen Bailey of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, and runner up Jade Konkel of London Fire Brigade who have both excelled in their support of gender equality and empowerment issues which this award celebrates.

The IFE continues to drive advances for women and champion female talent across the fire sector through the IFE Women’s Networking Group and our Equality and Diversity Inclusion task group.