Uroosa Arshid

“Wearing a hijab didn’t stop me from becoming a firefighter”


Today (Monday 8 March), we are celebrating International Women’s Day, a day where we celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias and act for equality.

Someone we would like to celebrate is Uroosa Arshid, a firefighter at West Bridgford Fire Station. Uroosa is the first hijabi firefighter in the UK, and she joined the Service two years ago.

Uroosa said, “I have always wanted to be a firefighter from when I was a little girl and firefighters came to my school to do a fire safety talk. I knew I wanted to be a part of a team that worked together to save lives in all sorts of ways. I feel blessed enough to say I achieved my goal and became a firefighter in 2019.

“Being who I am, it came with a variety of barriers. Not only was I a woman and a person of faith, but I was also the first operational firefighter in the UK to wear a hijab.

“This was challenging because there wasn’t yet anything in place for me to practise my faith as well as carry out my role safely. I worked with various colleagues to research and find a solution for this, and we succeeded! But we are still working to create our own product that I hope will inspire other people with differences to come forward and take the challenge on in their own way.

“I believe most religions are rooted around peace, kindness and working together which are very similar to the values of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service. This link needs to be celebrated and utilised to build better relationships in the community.

“I have had a lot of support from many people and different teams, and I am so grateful because none of this would have been possible without the backing of the Service.

“In the future I would like to see so many more women in the Fire Service that you no longer feel like a minority. I want it to be so diverse that a stereotype isn’t possible. I want to see women realising their potential and pursuing their goals, whatever they may be.

“If I was to give any piece of advice to another hijabi wanting to become a firefighter, it would be that it IS possible to save lives and maintain your modesty all in one. If it is truly your goal you will find a way to make it work.

“In Islam we are told that ‘Saving the life of one, is as though you have saved the whole of humanity,’ (Quran 5:32) and, in my opinion, there aren’t many better ways of doing that than becoming a firefighter.”

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