Achieving diversity in the fire service is challenging for most departments and should be a continuous work in process. Many times there is an unconscious struggle to achieve diversity in the fire service and many departments have worked hard in providing a diverse workplace. One of the many issues inhibiting implementation of a diverse workplace is implementing a program proactively, rather than reactively. This class is designed to assist Chiefs, staff officers and firefighters in understanding, developing and implementing a program proactively that incorporates components of other current successful programs, the law and psychology.
There are numerous, and unnecessary examples of firefighters and fire departments finding themselves in legal jeopardy because of a lack of a comprehensive diversity program in their departments. Just as important as avoidance of the legal jeopardy is the prevention and mitigation of the psychological harm to firefighters, the department, and community related to the lack of attention to issues of diversity.
Departments, and fire personnel struggle with multiple barriers to creating a diverse workplace. One of the most prominent barriers stems from the culture of the fire service, which is steeped in traditions that have been maintained despite being outdated. All members in the fire department, from the fire chief to the probationary firefighter must understand the importance of diversity in the fire service and diversity having a comprehensive program.