CHESHIRE Fire and Rescue Service has rocketed into the top five of LGBT charity Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers list for 2018.

The service has jumped four places from its 2017 eighth place to fourth position. It is also, once again, the best-performing emergency service in the UK due to its efforts to engage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff, volunteers and communities.

This is the sixth consecutive year the service has featured in the Top 100, which assesses organisations ranging from local authorities to international investment banks against criteria including engagement with staff and communities, training and leadership.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service entered the Top 100 in 2014 at number 25 and has increased its ranking every year. It has also been the highest-performing UK emergency service in 2016, 2017 and now 2018.

Cllr Bob Rudd, chairman of Cheshire Fire Authority, said the achievement was a great reward for the organisation’s consistent efforts around equality.

He said: “Residents can be sure the services we provide, be they emergency response, safe and well visits or youth work, are delivered in a way that’s inclusive of the wonderfully diverse communities we serve.

“No-one from the LGBT community should hesitate to engage with our staff or volunteers and the service’s fourth position on the Stonewall Top 100 list provides that reassurance.”

This year Stonewall received more than 92,000 responses to the staff survey, making it one of the largest national employment surveys in Britain.

The service was recognised in particular for its focus on including not just lesbian and gay employees, but also bi and trans staff. In addition, supporting the community by addressing the safety risks faced by LGBT people, especially those who live alone, those aged over 65 and young people - with whom the service engages through Prince’s Trust programmes, cadet units, school visits and other safety initiatives – have also been recognised.

Cheshire Police was named the top ranked police force in the country, coming 26th on the list.

Feedback from Stonewall praised the force for its strong stance on anti-bullying and harassment of LGBT staff and excellent community engagement work through collaboration and support of LGBT community groups and events.