Diversity and Inclusion: What’s Your Fire Department’s Plan?

By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

This is an excerpt from one of my latest contributions to FireRescue1’s on-line trade journal. Below it is the link to the entire article on-line. In addition, I’ve also included a couple of more links from a couple of my fire service colleagues and fellow FireRescue1 contributors on the subject of diversity and inclusion for fire departments. I trust that you’ll find these articles to be of value to you and your department’s efforts to recruit and keep a vibrant and diverse workforce for your community. In the meantime, here’s a little something to think about before you read the articles:

Diversity is about counting people. Inclusion is about making people count. Diversity is about the ingredients, the mix of people and perspectives. Inclusion is about the container – the place that allows employees to feel they belong, to feel both accepted and different. To achieve success today and tomorrow in meeting the challenges it faces, a fire department needs a group of people who think differently – in a place that’s safe to share those differences.

Inclusiveness is the degree to which a workplace or organization has created an environment where everyone is treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can give fully to the organization’s success.

It is incumbent upon fire officers and firefighters to have a clear understanding of how the concepts of diversity and inclusion differ. Many fire departments may be working diligently to attract more women and people of color to fire/EMS. But if those same organizations are not looking for ways that those people can be involved and successful in the organization, those same people will choose not to stay, thus creating a retention problem for those departments.

Read the rest of the article, “7 steps to an inclusive fire department culture”

In her article, Answer “Why diversity is important” to improve firefighter recruitment, my FireRescue1 editor, Kerri Hatt, writes about her conversation with Fire Chief John S. Butler of Howard County (Md.) Department of Fire/Rescue Services about his department’s efforts to improve its diversity.

Christine Pao, Consuelo Arbona, Ph.D., and Jana Tran, Ph.D. who is the staff psychologist for the Houston (TX) Fire Department, collaborated on an article, Igniting a change: Recruiting and retaining female firefighters in a male-dominated occupation. From the article:

“Either we are not putting enough effort into recruitment and retention of women in the fire service, or there are other factors at play that are undermining these efforts. What’s stopping women from becoming firefighters? What are the barriers to recruiting and maintaining female candidates to the fire service? It is critical that fire departments begin to study and understand this gender disparity.”

Finally, Kerri Hatt again, as she interviewed Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner of the Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department for an article, Q&A: Mentoring, marketing and the importance of diversity in fire department recruitment.

Read More

E-Books on Diversity and Inclusion, Leadership, Recruitment and Retention and more.

Community, Diversity, and Your Fire Department

Women and minorities in the fire service need champions


About Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

Battalion Chief (Ret.) Robert Avsec served with the men and women of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department for 26 years. He’s now using his acquired knowledge, skills, and experiences as a freelance writer for FireRescue1.com and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec makes his home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail, [email protected].