The L.A. Fire Department has increased minority recruitment in an attempt to ensure that the 350 new firefighters hired over the next two years include an increasing number of black, Latino, Asian or female recruits, reports Southern California Public Radio.
Of the 3,306 firefighters in the LAFD, more than 47 percent are white, 31 percent are Latino and about 11 percent are black. About 3 percent of the firefighters are female.
“Diversity in the fire service is a national issue that all departments throughout the nation are trying to improve and increase their diversity within the work force,” said Steve Hissong, an LAFD Battalion Chief who’s been with the department for 26 years.
In addition to events focused on Latino, Asian and black applicants, the department focuses on another demographic group: women.
Wilcher said that while women do great on the written exam and interview, they often have difficulty with the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) — which includes walking on a Stairmaster wearing 75 pounds worth of weights. Classes aimed specifically at women include tips and techniques for passing the physical portion of the test.
Wilcher said for the fire department, diversity can have a lot of different meanings.
“When we talk about diversity, it’s not just the color of their skin. It’s not their ethnicity. It’s what they bring to the table,” he said. “Athletes, veterans and things of that nature.”
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