DIVERSITY IN THE FIRE SERVICE: BEYOND BASIC DEMOGRAPHICS
Martin, Bailey C.
Halladay, Carolyn C.
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Research in diversity has failed to study the unique challenges that the fire service’s schedule, stress, and culture of tradition pose for diverse workforces. There has also been a lack of depth when researchers have studied demographics in the fire service. This case study uses the history and demographics of the Richmond (VA) Department of Fire and Emergency Services (RFES) to answer the following research question: What can homeland security agencies learn about diversity from the successes and challenges of the City of Richmond’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services? This research consists of a qualitative and quantitative study of this fire department. The qualitative study evaluates the factors that had the greatest impact on the work environment. The quantitative study compares RFES to other career departments in Virginia and nationally. The results reveal a large gap, beyond basic demographics, in promotion opportunities for minorities and women in Virginia and national datasets. These same demographic groups in RFES, however, were promoted at rates higher than or equal to their counterparts.
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