Diversity remains a challenge in the fire service
Considering that four out of five firefighters in the U.S. are white males, it seems clear that diversity remains an enormous challenge for the fire service. It’s time to move this important issue off the back burner.
When Don Horton joined the Richmond (Va.) Fire Department in 1980, the agency was implementing a federally mandated diversity-driven recruitment process. Nevertheless, when Horton hit the ground, he met people who were unhappy about minority hires.
“It wasn’t easy at the time,” he said. “You had to align yourself with people and stay focused.”
Not much has changed over the ensuing three decades. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ 2010 jobs report indicated that there are about 301,000 firefighters nationwide. Of these, 9.6% are Hispanic, 6.4% are African-American, 0.5% are Asian and 3.6% are women. That means that approximately 80% of U.S. firefighters are white males — and that diversity still needs to be addressed in the fire service.
Read the entire story from FIRE CHIEF, our sister publication.