Founder & President

Russell G. Hayden Founder

Russell G. Hayden Founder

Russell G. Hayden: Founder & President

The level of innovation that Mr. Hayden infused into the area of recruitment earned him the Outstanding Employee Award for the City of San Jose. His contributions included the development of the fire department's first recruitment program. He built upon this program to include a comprehensive internship component that yielded many successful recruits.

Recognizing the needs of candidates to be better prepared for the application and testing process, Mr. Hayden developed the acclaimed eight-hour course entitled "The ABC's of Becoming a Firefighter". He continues to conduct this highly effective course throughout the nation.

Additionally, Mr. Hayden has participated as an oral board member and proctor for agencies throughout Northern California.

With a passion for diversity and recruitment, Mr. Hayden's experience and leadership roles include the following:

  • Founder & President – Firefighter's ABC's
    • Firefighter Diversity Recruitment Council
      • Fire department members nationwide including Canada
    • National Recruit Database
      • Diverse recruitment pool
    • Firefighter's ABC's Student Program
      • Online internship program
      • Online high school and college program
    • Firefighter's ABC's Entry Level Workshop – Towards diversity in the fire service
      • Presented nationwide
    • Santa Clara County Office of Education Business Partner
      • Prepare and increase a diverse pool of candidates for the fire service
  • Southwest Region / International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters
    • Chair Recruitment and Diversity Committee
  • Prior presenter – Fire Rescue International Convention
    • Subject matter: Diversity Workshop
  • Environmental Compliance Programs Manager / Fire Safety Manager for NorCal Corporation
    • Presentations presented to a diverse workforce
  • Thirty-four years in the fire service – retired
    • Twenty-nine years – San Jose Fire Department
      • Assigned as the first Recruitment Officer in the history of SJFD
      • Public Information Officer
      • Public Education Officer
      • Twenty years various administrative duties
      • Extensive relationship with Human Relations Department
    • Five years – Los Altos Fire Department
  • Past President and Founder Santa Clara County Black Firefighters Association
    • Founded 1973 – Goals then and now to increase diversity within the fire service
  • Member International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters
    • Prior conference presenter subject of diversity

About Firefighter's ABC's

Through hundreds of conversations with fire departments nation-wide, Firefighter's ABC's observed a host of challenges that hinder the fulfillment of diversity recruitment goals within the fire service. Many fire departments proclaim that recruiting qualified candidates, from diverse backgrounds, is literally like finding the proverbial "Needle in a Haystack".

While some departments do a better job than others, the anecdotal evidence clearly indicates that the vast majority of programs is not sustained over time and is not comprehensive or broad enough in scope. This led Mr. Hayden to form the Firefighter Diversity Recruitment Council and to couple it with the National Recruit Database.

This "Power in Numbers" approach benefits from the collaboration of shared "Best Practices" and the budgetary efficiencies of sharing a much broader pool of diverse candidates.

Key Links to visit:

A Bit About Russell G. Hayden [Video]

Firefighter Diversity Recruitment Council Members

National Recruit Database for Firefighter

High School & College Support Information

Firefighter's ABC's Online Internship Program

Chief Michael E. Smith (Retired): Fire Management Liaison

In 1978, Mr. Smith became the first African-American firefighter in Monterey, California. He joined the San Jose (CA) Fire Department in 1981 and rose through the ranks to become Deputy Chief. The progression through his thirty-year career in the fire service culminated in the role of Fire Chief for the cities of Fresno and Fairfield in California.

Throughout his career, Mr. Smith has exercised a firm commitment to diversity recruitment within the fire service. This driving force has led to his ongoing outreach efforts within the faith-based and educational segments of the communities that he has served.

Mr. Smith has held memberships in a number of fire related professional organizations. Additionally, Mr. Smith has served as President for the League of California Cities (Fire Section) and as a Board Member of Metro Chiefs.

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Founder & President
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