The under representation of women and minority groups within corporate America is mirrored within the fire service. While great strides are being made, a continued and focused effort must continue.
Against this backdrop, Firefighter's ABC's formed the Firefighter Diversity Recruitment Council. We firmly believe that full representation of all societal segments, within the fire service, can and will be achieved. However, solutions will require heavy doses of creativity, ingenuity, new strategic initiatives and, broad alliances to offset the many challenges that abound.
We all recognize that the desire to become a firefighter is typically incubated at a relatively early age, especially when a young person relates to the uniformed person as a role model. However, this is less prevalent among minorities and women who might harbor the attitude of "If I don't see any that look like me, then it's probably not meant to be."
Added to this dilemma is the cost of Emergency Medical and other training requirements for prospects that typically come from lower income households. There is also the need to earn an income throughout the lengthy process of getting hired for one of the few available positions. Lastly, the education disparity is reflected in lower high school test scores.
These issues, among others, represent significant impediments among fire departments seeking ample numbers of diverse recruits for current openings. The situation can literally seem like finding "the needle in a haystack". Added to this is the need to build a viable pipeline of qualified and motivated candidates for recruitment in future years.
We believe that by coupling the Firefighter Diversity Recruitment Council with the National Recruit Database, a strong foundation has been formed to successfully address the pressing requirement for fuller diversity within the fire service. This will be accomplished through the Council's combination of "Best Practices", collaboration and cooperative efforts among fire departments nation-wide.
Through hundreds of conversations with fire departments nation-wide, Firefighter's ABC's has observed a host of non-optimal efforts that hinder the fulfillment of diversity recruitment goals. While some departments do a better job than others, our anecdotal evidence clearly indicates that most programs are not sustained over time and are not comprehensive or broad enough in scope. Provided below are a few of the "Areas for Improvement" that we see repeatedly:
If your department can relate to any of the above, membership in the Firefighter Diversity Recruitment Council will serve you well. Through vigorous collaboration with other departments, and greatly aided by the National Recruit Database of candidates, you will find solutions readily available.
A belief in the 'Power of Numbers' is why the Firefighter Diversity Recruitment Council was formed and was subsequently coupled with the Firefighter's ABC's National Recruit Database. We also view collaboration among a nation-wide network of Council member fire departments as pivotal to optimizing and sharing best practices in the area of diversity recruitment. Key elements of our approach, and why they work, include: