March 2007 - B.C. - The Richmond, B.C., fire department has been given the thumbs up by politicians to favour women and visible minorities when hiring.
December 14, 2007
By Fire Fighting in Canada
March 2007 – B.C. – The Richmond, B.C., fire department has been given the thumbs up by politicians to favour women and visible minorities when hiring.
Richmond, B.C., city council has approved a proposal for its fire rescue department to adopt an assisted hiring practice for its next recruitment campaign.
Rather than recruiting new firefighters directly out of training schools, the force wants to pay for women and minorities to attend the programs, said city spokesman Ted Townsend.
Townsend said traditionally the training schools don’t produce the ethnicly diverse group of graduates the department wants so it hopes to entice them to attend the program if it pays.
“We know this is going to take time,” Townsend said. “But we’ve seen this kind of integration on other police forces and we know it can work.”
Townsend said the city is still accepting applications from everyone and knows it can’t fill all the vacancies with women or minorities.
“We are not going to compromise our standards,” he said. “There are very rigorous standards that all firefighters have to meet and women and visible minorities will have to meet them as well.”
Attracting women and minorities to a force that had its reputation blackened after allegations of sexual harassment two years ago will be a challenge, Townsend acknowledged, but he said the internal review prompted by those allegations led to massive changes within the department designed to make it more accommodating.
Townsend called the assisted hiring practice only one of many steps needed to move the department forward to representing Richmond’s increasingly diverse population.
There are only two women and fewer than 10 visible minorities among the 206 firefighters in the Vancouver suburban community.
“That’s completely out of whack with our city,” Townsend said.
Visible minorities make up 60 per cent of Richmond’s population and there’s almost an even split between men and women overall.
The department now must gain the approval of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to move forward with the plan.
If approved, the new recruitment campaign will begin in the spring.
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