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  • Fire Department diversity gets priority

    Fire Department diversity gets priority
    Two black candidates are offered jobs. They, along with two other candidates, still must pass background checks.
    By SHANNON TAN
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 21, 2003

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    LARGO - The city Fire Department has offered jobs to two African-Americans under a revamped hiring process aimed at increasing diversity.

    Currently, the department has three black and three Hispanic firefighters and paramedics. There are 119 employees.

    After a fire lieutenant was dismissed last year for using a racial slur, officials looked at ways to increase the number of minorities within the department.

    "Some of the applicants were scoring lower on the aptitude test but doing better in the oral interviews," said City Manager Steven Stanton.

    So this year, the agency chose the top 30 applicants from the written test and the top 30 from the interview portion.

    The result: 52 potential firefighters out of 104 applicants. Four blacks, 2 Asians and four Hispanics were among the initial group who applied for the positions.

    "It gave us a very diverse pool of personnel," said the deputy fire chief, Jeff Bullock.

    Two black men, one white female and one white male were offered jobs last month. They will still have to take a polygraph test, undergo extensive background checks and pass a physical examination.

    "We didn't have to make any special exceptions; we didn't lower the criteria," said Stanton. "We took the very best applicants and also generated a diversity benefit as well."

    The Fire Department pays for firefighter EMTs to go through paramedic training, so applicants aren't required to be paramedics.

    "If we didn't have enough paramedics, we would have only one minority eligible for hire, a Hispanic male," Bullock said.

    The city also reimburses the tuition for city employees who undergo fire and EMT training. Diversifying the city's work force is not an easy job in a city that is more than 92 percent white.

    Other incidents of discrimination have put the city in an unfavorable light.

    The city has settled two lawsuits filed by a former firefighter and a job applicant who claimed they were discriminated against by the Fire Department. Also, a Fair Housing study found bias against minorities renting apartments in Largo.

    Stanton has asked the Fire Department to develop outreach programs in neighboring Ridgecrest, which is nearly 81 percent black.

    "We do have a substantial minority population right down the road," said Stanton. He hopes that after children find out what it's like to be a firefighter, they will want to be one, too.

    - Shannon Tan can be reached at [email protected] or 445-4174.

  • #2
    I would just like to see if this is happening in departments all over, and if departments are hiring based on race and gender, and overlooking other qualified applicants.

    Comment


    • #3
      Dont forget residency.
      Shawn M. Cecula
      Firefighter
      IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

      Comment


      • #4
        Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, prohibits discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, fringe benefits, job training, classification, referral, and other aspects of employment, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

        I thought this was supposed to apply to everyone?

        Comment


        • #5
          Nope, Its not discrimination, selective enforcement of the rules. There is a difference.
          Shawn M. Cecula
          Firefighter
          IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

          Comment


          • #6
            Ok... here is another question then. If you are a higher qualified applicant than those that were hired, is there any action that you can take? I find it very disturbing that higher qualified individuals are passed over because they are not the right race or sex. I want the most qualified individual to get the job. If the 4 people that were the highest qualifed were all hispanic, then so be it, the city then has the best person that applied in the job. The Firefighters of Largo should be upset that their administration is more concerned with diversity than having the best qualified employees. I know that when I goto work, I want to be working with the best people possible, not the best that they could get to meet a quota. My life is in the hands of my fellow co-workers, I do not care what color those hands are.

            Comment


            • #7
              Hey Shawn.............

              @#$%&$#&%** Residency!! Stay safe....
              Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
              In memory of
              Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
              Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

              IACOJ Budget Analyst

              I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

              www.gdvfd18.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Hey Shawn.............

                Originally posted by hwoods
                @#$%&$#&%** Residency!! Stay safe....
                No Kidding, I live at most 5 minutes from the city line for the city of Niagara Falls, and I end up getting put on the non-resident list. And now the civil service board is getting wise to the fact that people are claiming residency so they sometimes will go and spot check to make sure you actually live there.
                Just my opinion but if you want to lower the unemployment rate in the city find another way to do it!
                Shawn M. Cecula
                Firefighter
                IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

                Comment


                • #9
                  Self Inflicted Wounds...

                  http://www.firehouse.com/cartoon/combs_May07_large.jpg

                  Comment

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