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Raleigh Chief Looks for More Minority Firefighters

Posted June 12, 2007
Updated June 13, 2007

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— A yearlong effort to add more African-American firefighters to the ranks of the Raleigh Fire Department is bearing fruit. But officials said they plan to keep working on increased diversity.

Before Fire Chief John McGrath joined the department last year, African-American men represented just 12 percent of Raleigh's firefighting force. The city is more than a quarter African-American.

A graduating class of recruits last fall bumped that minority percentage to 14 percent, and McGrath said he plans to continue the push.

"I don't think that the Raleigh Fire Department ever tried to exclude anybody," he said. "We realized that we needed to reach out and make people aware of who we are and what we're about, and we needed to market ourselves."

Twelve members of the department have been dedicated to recruitment year-round, attending job fairs and other community events to find potential recruits. Officials said they expect about 600 applications this year -- the application process opens at the end of June -- for 15 to 20 positions.

McGrath said the city doesn't have a quota of minority candidates that it wants to fill. Instead, he said, the recruitment effort should lead to a more diverse pool of candidates.

Triangle Urban League Chairman Keith Sutton said the fire department has made progress in minority hiring, but the effort needs to continue.

"If you increase the pool and you do that consistently, then over time, you'll see that improvement," Sutton said.

114 Comments

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  • Josh-FD8 Jun 14, 2007

    I couldn't agree more with luckyman! Why do residents want people protecting them who were told they should give it a try and see if they like being a firefighter. Everyday across the nation white males are denied a job in the fire service b/c they are just that. If people would quit making a stink over the black/white issue then it would go away. People need to understand that a firefighter has to go into a burning building, lower themself down a rope hundreds of feet in the air, or treat a person who is alive with thier body parts all over the road these are only 3 out of 1,000's of job requirements. The sad part is that nobody mentions this in their comments regarding this topic. I am a firefighter and some of the best firemen I've ever met have been black, hispanic, & asian. But guess what they didn't get where they are by looking for handouts. They were hired b/c they were qualified for the job & good at it. If residents & media would back off then the right people would be hired

  • beachboater Jun 14, 2007

    well put Luckyman

  • luckyman Jun 14, 2007

    it is a shame that a man that is white with all the training and skills to be a fireman anywhere he wants to be can't be on RFD because they need blacks, women, hispanics, etc. just not white. If you look at the people who apply for this job in the past 20 years, I would bet my life savings that 98% of them are the white american men. You got to look at the people who want this job, the ones willing to do it, not the ones that are given the job but of a comment that on 12% of the fire department is black. 2% of my fire deparment is black do I need to fire 25% of the white men that can and will do what needs to be done to save your house, your family, don't get me wrong the 2% of the black males on my department are can hang with the best. But you have to draw a line on the % thing, but it is your house that is burning up can you trust someone that don't have it in them to fight this fire they just want a paycheck. Good luck

  • Fair Tax Now Jun 13, 2007

    So the FD has "historically recruited in a narrow field", not sure how you do that without saying "whites only need apply" which I'm sure did not happen.

  • choppa Jun 13, 2007

    Every possible career imaginable recruits and promotes jobs in their field. The FD has always recruited. No one has ever had a problem with it. FD says the it has historically recruited in a narrow field which did not allow them tap in to the true amount of talent thats out there. No quotas. No changing requirements of acceptance. Just more recruitment.

    I personally don't think it is racist that some are having such an absolute fear about the possibility of more competition. I think it is natural for those who are use to being automatically deferred to being afraid of finally having to compete harder (Which is the real issue).

  • 1911 Jun 13, 2007

    This stuff is rampant in state government...

  • atozca Jun 13, 2007

    Fair Tax Now... you are too funny!

  • Fair Tax Now Jun 13, 2007

    What about midgets, little people. They would be good if someone fell down a well, etc. I'll bet there are not enough midgets on the fire department. They could bunk 2 at a time. Of course the fire dog might mistake them for a hydrant.

  • one_nc_citizen Jun 13, 2007

    c4sp3r,

    The "when was the last time you've seen an all white college" argument is totally silly. There is no one, and there has never been any one keeping white people out of HBCUs (unlike the reverse). As a matter of fact if white people want to go, there are many that will give them a minority scholarship.

    And you're lying if you tell me you know of an "all black" college because there is no such thing in America, there are historically, or predominately black institutions, but "all black" is a figment of people's imaginations.

    Don't you realize your governor went to NC Central??? Ignorance is so hard to fix i guess.

  • supermom2 Jun 13, 2007

    Sunne...don't even attempt to put words in my mouth. There are fatherless children in all of the races. Like I said it is not a black of white issue. You want to affect the life of a child,& make them a productive adult, one that chooses success over drugs and alcohol, then you take your spare time and go out and be a mentor to these kids, show them a successful male, and tell them how hard you had to work to get to where you are. Stop coming up with excues, that it is someone elses fault...ultimatly it is your choice to with your life as you wish. so you want to be successful, then you will work hard for it..Your failure is your own, it is your own choice.

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