MEN earn 15 per cent more than women at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service but bosses insist people of different genders in the same roles are paid equally.

A report prepared by the fire service shows the mean average pay for men is £17.74 per hour - while women take home an average of £14.96 per hour - a difference of 15.6 per cent.

But fire chiefs say those in equal roles can expect to earn the same amount.

Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley - who is set to be replaced by Jo Turton later this month, said: “We are confident equal roles are equally paid.

“However, we do have a gender pay gap of 15.6 per cent.

“The fire and rescue service as an industry is still a male dominated organisation across the UK.

“In fact, at our service, 85 per cent of the overall workforce are male.

“So, although we can confidently ensure that our non-discriminatory pay process results in equal pay, it is more challenging to reduce the gender pay gap when there is a disproportionate number of men at an organisation.

“We are committed to creating an inclusive culture within a workforce which is high performing and values differences to benefit and reflect the communities it serves.

“As we continue to improve gender balance to all sections of our workforce we are confident that the overall gap will decrease.”

According to the report, women are under represented in the whole time and on-call firefighter roles and the service is attempting to recruit more with tactics including targeted advertising on social media, a buddy system during the recruitment service and female only taster sessions.

They also aim to attend events and locations where there are women with an interest in fitness and create a talent pipeline where candidates can quickly move up the ranks.

According to the report, just 23 woman are in Essex fire service posts which attract the top band of salaries compared to 321 men in comparable roles.

Deputy police, fire and crime Commissioner Jane Gardner said: “In Essex we are committed to being open, honest and transparent about our data.

“This process allows us to assess where we are, measure our progression and explore how we can attract the best talent and ensure we are an employer of choice.”