UK – Cambridgeshire – Fire officer who has advocated for a fully-inclusive community and workplace receives royal honour

A Cambridgeshire fire officer has been awarded an MBE by Her MajestyThe Queen in the New Year’s Honours list.

Station Commander Farsh Raoufi has been recognised for services to the community, especially in relation to equality and inclusion, both in his role with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) and as a volunteer.

Farsh said: “I am truly humbled to be given such a prestigious award and I would like to thank Her Majesty The Queen for this honour.

“I am only able to do what I do with the support and dedication of some great people, in both CFRS and the wider community. It is very much a team effort and I am proud to be part of it and give back to the community.”

Farsh’s passion for serving the community stems from his treatment by the community when he arrived in the UK at the age of 14. Having fled Iran after the revolution, he journeyed alone via Russia to the UK. He was welcomed and was supported through school, despite speaking limited English, by a Polish family. He then spent time as a youth worker before joining CFRS in 1991.

Farsh has played a key role in promoting the understanding of Islam to staff as well as being an active member of the Service’s Equality and Inclusion Network. This has involved ensuring proper evaluation of fire risk in the communities and securing appropriate personal protective equipment and uniform for female operational staff. He has supported pride and LGBT groups within the Service and advocated transparency of promotion and transfer processes, including mixed recruitment and selection panels, which has helped to build an inclusive and diverse workforce.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland said: “I am delighted that Her Majesty The Queen has seen fit to honour Farsh. His service to the community, both with CFRS and as a volunteer, is something that merits such an award.

“Not only is Farsh an excellent fire officer, but his work in the community really sets him apart. Whatever challenge he faces, Farsh tackles it with enthusiasm and commits to bringing people together to get the best outcome. I, like the rest of the Service, am delighted that Farsh has been recognised for his contribution.”

Farsh quickly gained trust and respect as a practical, loyal and courageous firefighter, while also remaining true to his religious beliefs, actively role modelling to others, enabling them to feel more confident to be themselves in a traditional environment. This was personally challenging, especially when meeting the physical demands of his role whilst fasting for Ramadan.

Most recently as a community risk manager, Farsh has been based within the Safer Peterborough Partnership. He’s shown determination and drive to connect people from different areas and backgrounds and help communicate key safety information to vulnerable residents, resulting in a significant reduction of deaths and serious injuries in fires to members of BME communities in Peterborough. He has also recently been recognised as a Champion of Equality and Diversity at the annual Asian Fire Service Association.

Farsh has also volunteered for 17 years, acting as a role model and voice of reason to young people from different cultures. He has supported young people living in care and worked with the most persistent youth offenders to deliver education and life skills. He has provided advocacy for young people and vulnerable adults during police detention and interviews, helped to prepare for court hearings and provided translation services for police and other agencies. He has also worked as a Restorative Justice Facilitator, managing conflict by building relationships across communities.

Farsh concluded: “I am someone that is rarely lost for words, but to be recognised by Her Majesty for something I consider to be nothing more than my duty to the community, has me utterly speechless.”

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