Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service [DWFRS] has defended spending more than £3,000 on decorations for this year’s Swindon and Wiltshire Pride.

An FOI request revealed that more than £2,000 was spent on wrapping a fire engine in rainbow colours, while large outlays also went on flags and a banner for the event.

A spokesman for DWFRS said: “Investing in our communities allows DWFRS to attend and support a wide variety of community events, increasing opportunities to connect and deliver key messages without affecting operational effectiveness.

“DWFRS has a responsibility to engage with communities and to encourage all sections of the community to view the service as a potential employer.

“Investing in positive messages increases the diversity of our workforce, ensuring that DWFRS is representative of the community it serves.”

The cost of decorating the S-reg fire engine, which held a place near the front of the parade on July 29, in rainbow livery came to £2,235.

The spokesman said: “The SPARC Diversity appliance is an older vehicle taken off the operational rota and introduced into the education fleet.

“The enhanced visibility of this appliance highlights how DWFRS values diversity and welcomes people from all backgrounds into the workforce.”

Other expenditures for the parade included a large rainbow-coloured flag including the fire service’s badge, at £94, and 1,500 smaller versions of the same, at £1,015.

On the day of the event, Ian Jeary, the area manager for DWFRS, highlighted the importance of the display.

He said: “It’s about celebrating diversity and inclusivity in our community. Pride doesn’t discriminate and neither does the fire and rescue service.”

“It’s about breaking down those barriers - 50 years after decriminalisation there’s still work to be done.”

Speaking before the event, the fire service’s Rex Webb, the service's equality, inclusion and cultural change manager, highlighted the importance of being seen to support diversity.

He said: “The reason we take part in Pride is to celebrate diversity and to show we are an inclusive organisation that welcomes everybody regardless of their background.

"As well as highlighting diversity within the fire brigade, the occasion was also used as an excuse to set up a stall to raise awareness of fire safety.

“We believe that people should be able to be themselves in the workplace and we will show the LGBT community, and the community as a whole, that we are committed to that.”

Hundreds joined in with the festivities and celebrations in Swindon’s Town Gardens, with loud music, bright colours and a party atmosphere setting the tone for the day of celebration.

DWRFS were just one of a number of organisations represented on the day, as the annual event took on extra significance, celebrating its 10th year and 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Others included Wiltshire Police, the Scouts and The Samaritans. Businesses with a local interest including Nationwide, Nando’s and Network Rail also took part.