'We celebrate LGBT+ pride in solidarity with all those we serve and employ,' the fire department stated. 'Fires don't discriminate, neither do we.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 7, 2022. It has since been updated.
The firefighters of the U.K.'s South Yorkshire fire department have no time for homophobia in their busy schedule of saving lives. Also, they would appreciate it if the anti-LGBTQ trolls of social media got that through their bigoted heads. The fire service came out with an epic video response to petty homophobes after it received "abusive, hurtful and homophobic comments" for showing support for the gay community. Featuring 11 employees—including firefighters, control operators, and support staff—the video highlights some of the negative comments they received after adding a rainbow flag to their profile picture on Facebook during Pride Month.
"Last year we got a load of abuse when we added the rainbow flag to our profile picture. We don't think homophobic abuse is acceptable and we stand with all those LGBT+ people we serve and employ. Thanks for the comments," the department tweeted, along with the one and a half minutes long video. In the clip, firefighters and other staff members read out some of the negative comments to the camera with deadpan expressions while draped in rainbows. "Getting involved with the gay community, it's not correct," one reads, while another staff member recites: "Constantly going on and on about who wants to sh*g who shouldn't be a fire service priority."
"Let's see pictures of our firefighters doing their job and keep political correctness out of it," another comment read out by a couple of firefighters stated. "It should be about keeping the public safe, not acting as a political group," read another, smoothly sliding down a pole. "More box ticking!" someone else says, while checking off an "LGBT+ Pride" box on a piece of paper where "Saving Lives," "Fitting Smoke Alarms" and "Visiting Schools" have already been checked off.
In between the snarky clips of the staff roasting the comments, the department also included a serious message proclaiming its support of the LGBTQ community. "We celebrate LGBT+ pride in solidarity with all those we serve and employ," the video declares. "Fires don't discriminate, neither do we." In a press release for the video, the South Yorkshire fire department said that as it strives to be a diverse and inclusive employer, it wants to show its LGBT+ staff and communities that they are valued and supported.
"We fully expect the video will have a mixed reaction but some of the comments we received last year were awful and totally unacceptable," said Chief Fire Officer, Alex Johnson. "We've produced it for two reasons – firstly we wanted to support the month and let our staff, and communities, know that we are proud to employ and serve them, regardless of those comments. And secondly, we wanted to demonstrate that we are a genuinely inclusive organization that values the contribution of all our staff, whatever their LGBT+ status. I'd encourage anyone considering a career in the fire service, especially those who may be inspired by our work around LGBT History Month, to register their interest on our website."
Crew manager Rebecca Savin, South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union's LGBT+ rep, said: "We've come a long way recently in terms of diversity but there's still more to do. It really is important that our workforce truly represents all of the communities we serve and visible acts of support like this can mean a lot to sometimes marginalized groups. From a staff perspective, I'm really pleased with the video. It's great that, as an employer, SYFR wants to challenge these comments and stand up for its staff and the people it serves."