DORSET & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) has been recognised for its support of the military community.

DWFRS received the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Award (ERS), which was presented by the Lord Lieutenants of both services at separate ceremonies.

Army reservist Dean Hoskins, a watch manager at Swindon fire station, joined chief fire officer Ben Ansell at the Wiltshire event, while Royal Navy reservist John Lincoln, the service's health and safety advisor, accompanied CFO Ansell at the Dorset ceremony.

The award is considered for employers that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the armed forces community, and that align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant. Although the scheme is designed primarily to recognise private sector support, organisations such as the emergency services, local authorities, executive agencies and NHS trusts are also eligible.

Ben Ansell, CFO of the fire and rescue service, said: "I am delighted that the service now holds this award. Given the significant military presence in our service area, which includes Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force personnel, this scheme is a good way for us, as an employer, to show our support for our armed forces."

He added: "It also reaffirms our commitment and engagement with veterans, reservists and military spouses. We employ a number of veterans and military spouses and support a number of our staff in their role as reservists. Our relationship with the armed forces is a strong one and we are also collaborating in areas such as recruitment and retention, equality, diversity and inclusion, and leadership."

The ERS encourages employers to support defence and inspire others to do the same. Amongst other criteria, holders of the Silver Award must employ at least one individual from the armed forces community and proactively demonstrate that the service personnel are not disadvantaged as part of their recruiting and selection process.

The employer must also have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

DWFRS cover the local authority areas of Wiltshire, Swindon, Dorset and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.