THE fire service has welcomed a significant increase in the number of women applying to be firefighters.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said a recruitment campaign earlier this year saw 771 females apply, more than double the number received in previous years.

As a result, 31 of the first intake of 84 new firefighters who began their training last month are women.

At present women make up less than 5% of Scotland’s firefighters.

SFRS said it had also seen an increase in the number of applications from ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community.

The applications were shortlisted “blindly” – meaning no identifying data was made available such as names, gender, age, ethnicity or sexuality.

Liz Barnes, director of human resources and organisational development, said: “We encouraged under-represented groups to apply and the figures show that we have taken another step forward as an organisation in reflecting the very rich and diverse communities we serve.”