The world looks different. No one person is like the other, and as firefighters, it’s crucial to have a team that reflects this too. A more diverse and inclusive fire department only works to improve the profession as a whole. You want to hire and have firefighters who accurately represent the community and the rest of the world. Finding new ways to improve your fire department diversity needs to be a priority.

More Than Firefighters

Yes, they fight fires, but firefighters do more than this. There is a reason why the sound of firefighter sirens trails behind the sound of an ambulance siren. A majority of the calls firefighters take are medical emergencies. Society calls on these brave men and women for more than putting out fires.

Since a good portion of the profession requires and calls for human interaction, firefighters need to be intellectual, sociable, and emotionally supportive. Most of these skills get cultivated through the training process, but a lot of them are also inherently grained into the person.

When people call on firefighters, they want to know they are in the hands of someone who can relate to them and understand them regardless of the situation. Hiring and training people with diversity and different perspectives might just save a civilian’s life.

Diversity and Inclusivity

Diversity and inclusivity are one and the same, but there are some distinctive differences that deserve your attention. People tend to look at diversity in the more technical sense. While you can find diversity in a workplace’s numbers and metrics, you can’t measure inclusivity.

Inclusivity is the act of successfully assimilating diverse groups together and understanding the importance behind it. Once you and your team grasp why it is important to have a diverse group of firefighters, you’ll work on the inclusivity part and make sure everyone feels included and heard.

Here is where you learn steps to improve the diversity on your team to ensure that they all do this job to the best of their ability while feeling like valued members. More importantly, accomplishing inclusivity and diversity at the station will build a stronger rapport with the civilians they interact with. One of the main goals of a firefighter is making sure the community they serve trusts them.

Steps to Improve Diversity

Successful diversity and inclusivity do not happen overnight. It will take serious dedication and patience before you see a true and honest change in your fire station, but diligently following these steps will start you off in the right direction for you and the rest of your team.

Build Stronger Teams

You want to start by building stronger teams— and this starts by improving relationships. As a firefighter, you understand there is a brotherhood between you and your fellow coworkers. These relationships need to remain strong and unbreakable.

Incorporating and including members with a more diverse background strengthens the bond because everyone shares insights and experiences. You can keep your team top-notch by hiring a more diverse group, but once you do, try to form genuine bonds with one another.

It’s important that all members show they can relate to someone of a different background, or at the very least, appreciate and empathize with their experiences.

Respond to the Community

When you get a call, you’re up and on your way. Even before you arrive on the scene, you are instantly in work mode. Your entire focus is on the problem and how to solve it. This is good because this is exactly where your mind should be as a firefighter.

But once you leave the scene and get the situation squared away, what happens next? Aside from forming genuine relationships with your fellow firefighter brothers and sisters, you need to do the same with the community.

Respond to the community when they need you but go beyond that. These are the people you swore to serve. Keep your ear to the ground so you can stay informed of the community members. Relating to the diverse members and caring for them will promote inclusivity because it becomes that much easier to want to empathize with and understand different backgrounds.

Cultivate Trust

Some days at the station can get slow. Of course, you never know when an emergency will happen, but make it a requirement for firefighters to attend diversity training during off-times.

Try to pair them off so they can conduct successful one-on-one sessions with one another. These sessions work to build trust within your team. Try and pair people from different backgrounds, so inclusivity training becomes a keep part of the exercises.

Recruitment and Hiring

Focus on finding and hiring members with similar backgrounds to the community you serve. Building a team that is a direct reflection of the community they serve is another great way to cultivate trust. Civilians feel better when they see people who represent their background and beliefs.

When you start the firefighter candidate assessment process, make sure they are ready for more than just saving people from a burning building. See how they respond to talking with civilians from different backgrounds than them.

Have some civilian volunteers come in so you can put them to the real test. You want to look out for how they make the volunteer feel and how well they assess the situation. From here, you’ll know who will improve your team.

Benefits of Diversity

Diversity in the fire department promotes innovation. Everyone comes in with a fresh perspective and a new idea. Every situation you face as a firefighter will be different. You want to make sure you exhaust every idea there is for dealing with it.

You need the members of your team to remain sharp and adaptable to all situations. Coming up with solutions to technical problems increases with a more diverse team. You’ll see improvements in response times and notice a change between the community and your team.

At Morris & McDaniel Inc., we understand the role of a firefighter, and as a human resource management team, we understand the importance of incorporating diversity and inclusivity into this profession. Therefore, we try and provide you and your department with sound advances to improve fire department diversity and the overall structure of the unit. For more information, visit our website.