Peter Hitchens blogs:
More than eight years ago I wrote in this newspaper warning of the foolish sex quotas being imposed on Fire Brigades. I have nothing against any fit, strong women who want to work as firefighters. Good luck to them.
What I warned against was a lowering of standards to raise the quota of women in the fire service. Minimum height rules were abandoned, chest expansion and lung-capacity tests abolished. A test which involved carrying a 12-stone man 100 yards was scrapped.
I suspect that the main result of this will have been more small, unfit men in the Fire Service, which doesn’t strike me as a good thing. The numbers of women have remained obstinately low. But the equality zealots have not been put off. I have heard from a firefighter who (as they all do) begged me to keep her or his sex, name and location secret. He or she writes that the watered-down fitness standards of only six years ago have now been weakened further still. ‘They’ve reduced the standard to the point where, if you can walk, you can probably pass it. I know of a woman, weighing 26 stone, who smoked, drank and had done no physical exercise since she left school 16 years before, and she drove everywhere. She came down and took the “official national fire service fitness test” and passed. She only failed to get in because she was scared of heights.’
I get why people might want equal number of women and men in different areas of life. What I don’t get is why people would even consider compromising the ability of someone to do their job in order to get such a trivial thing.
It goes without saying that such changes are sooner or later going to cost lives. One assumes that by that time the bureaucrat who got their “achieved greater gender equality” box ticked will be long gone.