Richmond Fire-Rescue: White men need not apply?

Discussion in 'Firefighter/EMS Talk' started by bccop, Mar 3, 2007.

  1. bccop


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    Apr 16, 2004
    People's Republic of Kanuckistan
    :steamed: :steamed: :steamed: :steamed: :steamed: :steamed:

    This is from Richmond, British Columbia, Canada

    Richmond Fire-Rescue: White men need not apply?

    There may be less opportunities for white males at Richmond Fire-Rescue.

    By Martin van den HemelStaff Reporter
    Mar 01 2007

    The Richmond fire department plans to radically reshape its ranks by hiring women and minorities exclusively for the foreseeable future to address ethnic, gender diversity and harassment concerns, according to a leaked document obtained by The Richmond Review.

    “We would see this as an ongoing initiative until the community is aptly represented in the department,” reveals the two-page internal document authored by Richmond Fire-Rescue Chief Jim Hancock. “We expect the minimum duration of this program to be five years.”

    The plan, which hasn’t been finalized and has yet to receive the required approval from council, is detailed in a Human Rights Tribunal document that was being prepared by Hancock for submission.

    Someone who accessed the city’s computer record system discovered the unsecured document and distributed it, prompting Hancock to post bulletins in local fire halls last Friday, instructing all copies to be immediately deleted or destroyed.

    “That document would outline some new and innovative ways for us to try and improve our outreach, to get visible minorities and women into our fire service,” Hancock told The Richmond Review Tuesday. “Considering the (Susan) Paish and the (Vince) Ready reviews, we thought we’d better put some more energy and effort behind this initiative. Otherwise, we’ll just keep re-cloning ourselves.”

    “These are unusual times for us,” said Hancock.

    “There’s been a lot of public scrutiny on not only our need to change our internal culture, the way we treat one another, but also our ethnic and racial and gender cross-section. It’s been identified that this is an initiative that we’ll need to work on.”

    Hancock noted two workplace reviews recommended that “we would be putting considerable effort behind an outreach to attract non-traditional applicants to our service.”

    Early last year, it was learned that all four female firefighters from Richmond Fire-Rescue had walked off the job, complaining about a culture of harassment and sexual harassment.

    This prompted council to hire lawyer Susan Paish to conduct an independent review. Paish’s review recommended a number of changes to address the work environment in light of the allegations.

    Unlike Paish, Ready, who was brought in to arbitrate a grievance filed by the firefighter’s union, managed to convince the former female firefighters to speak, and found there was likely sufficient evidence to support a finding that harassment had occurred.

    Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said last year’s reviews of Richmond Fire-Rescue have made it clear that a culture change is needed in the department. It needs to more closely reflect the community’s makeup.

    “The status quo is not acceptable,” Brodie said.

    Although preference may be given to women and minorities, if those positions can’t be filled, Caucasian men would be welcome, he said. The wording of the hiring policy may have to be altered to emphasize and clarify this point, he added.

    “I believe that it would take quite a long time before you would feel that there’s any shortage of Caucasian males in the Richmond firefighting department,” Brodie said.

    Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt, who was unaware of the plans being crafted by Hancock, said she won’t support discriminatory hiring practices.

    “I do not believe in excluding anybody from any hiring if all things were equal. If everybody was able to pass the standards and meet the standards, would I give preference to women in Richmond Fire-Rescue? Yes.”

    Any hiring plan would first have to be approved by council. There have been discussions around a preferential policy for hiring women, she said.

    Hancock is bracing himself for criticism.

    “When you boil it all down, there’s going to be controversy no matter what process is used,” Hancock said in an interview.

    “If we’re not rigorous enough with diversity, we’ll be criticized once again, ‘don’t you guys get it, you’ve been told several times, what do we need to say, what do we need to do.’”

    Hancock said hiring standards in Richmond will be brought in line with internationally-recognized standards and emphasized that public safety will not be compromised in any way.

    But won’t this policy discriminate against Caucasian men?

    “Well, I don’t know what we’re going to do there...That’s up for the discussion with council...I know that there’s going to be a backlash. There usually is with these types of things.”

    Tim Wilkinson, president of the Richmond Firefighters Association, said the firefighters union supports diversity in the workplace.

    Wilkinson said he’s not “in favour of anything that discriminates against anybody” but stopped short of saying he’s opposed to a hiring policy that would effectively bar Caucasian males from being hired at Richmond Fire-Rescue. He said he’d need to see the complete details of the policy before commenting.

    This program, Hancock said, won’t necessarily ensure that enough qualified women and minorities will be found to fill all of the vacant positions in the department.

    In anticipation of that, Hancock will be working on a “Plan B,” but before he does that, he said he has to finish drafting the first part of his hiring initiative, which drew inspiration from other fire departments, in Halifax and Phoenix.

    Council may be presented the plans behind closed doors in the next few weeks, Hancock said, but it could be a couple of months before it is addressed at a public meeting.

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  2. DScottHewitt

    DScottHewitt EMT-B

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    Jul 4, 2000
    Waynesboro, VA

    Thought this meant the capital of the Commonwealth.....


  3. Bannack


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    Jun 28, 2002
    NW Montana
    Instead of hiring the best qualified for the job, as it should be, they resort to this.
  4. FirNaTine

    FirNaTine Guest

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    May 20, 2006
    I thought about this for a while before deciding to comment.

    I think any discrimination is wrong. Hire the best for the job, regardless of what gender or ethnicity they are.

    If they are not getting qualified minority candidates, figure out why. Find ways to recruit and attract the groups that are under represented in the department.

    So if you are not getting enough women, start recruiting at locations where you think you will attract good female candidates. In my area there is a fitness club exclusively for women. Set up a recruiter there, you know that every candidate you get will be a woman with at least some interest in physical fitness.

    Ethnic minorities similarly could be recruited at traditionally minority colleges. Again you get a higher percentage of your time directed at the group you are looking for, and by doing it at a college you get people with some education and a desire to learn, and improve themselves.

    The more candidates you get from these groups, the more likely you can get the diversity you are looking for and maintain quality hiring standards.

    I support diversity so long as everyone realizes lives depend on getting the best people for the job.

    Anybody else agree, or do you think I am nuts?