All Articles Tagged "fire department"
As a firefighter, Teresa Deloach-Reed is no stranger to playing the role of a hero. But now her days of breaking down doors and climbing ladders has reached new heights. With her recent appointment as the head of the 580-person Oakland Fire Department, Reuters reports that she has become the first African American woman to serve as a chief of a major metropolitan fire department in the United States.
In 1985, Deloach-Reed was installing telephones for a phone company in Sacramento, California, a job that required the ability to work atop ladders to reach the telephone poles. At the time she was worried about possible layoffs at the company, when her brother, a police officer in San Jose, informed her that the fire department in San Jose was hiring.
As she already knew how to raise ladders, Deloach-Reed decided to apply, and in 1986 she was hired. Back then it was rare to see a women firefighter; women even had to wear the pants and shirts made for men. In her first year on the job, she entered the San Jose firefighting academy along with several other new female recruits. The women relied on each other for support against discrimination and sexual harassment on the job, and slowly, things began to change. Now 53-years-old with over 20 years of service, Deloach-Reed remembers when the department decided to install locks on the bathroom doors, dividers in the dorm rooms and even issue women uniforms.
Even though times have changed, as of 2010, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics observes a little more than six percent of firefighters in the nations are black, and less than 4 percent are women.
“There are still a lot of (fire) departments that don’t have any women,” Deloach-Reed said to Reuters. ”We still have a long way to go in regards to breaking down the doors.”
(Huffington Post) — When Tinisha Edwards was 10 years old and growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, the firefighter across the street, especially when dressed in his dark navy ceremonial uniform, was a source of neighborhood pride. ”We were just so proud of him,” Edwards recalled. “We all looked up to him.” Kids growing up in the city are accustomed to firetrucks, the ubiquitous blare of their sirens and the men who pile in and out of them. But for Edwards and others in mostly black New York City neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy, seeing firefighters who looked like them was something extraordinary. ”There are a lot of white firefighters, so for a black man to be in such a high position made me feel like I could achieve anything I set my mind to,” said Edwards, now 30. “We set our boundaries or aspirations on what we are accustomed to seeing. So seeing him set a guide for what I could aspire to in life.”
(Chicago Sun Times) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel could wring $300 million from the combined $1.8 billion budgets of Chicago’s Police and Fire Departments, in part by dramatically altering union contracts that expire June 30, an influential alderman said Thursday. “There’s no more sacred cows when the taxpayers are hurting like they are,” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), former chairman of the City Council’s Police and Fire Committee. Beale has already infuriated the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) by targeting the $1,800-a-year uniform allowance officers receive as well as duty-availability pay, a $2,800-a-year lump sum that essentially compensates officers for being on call at any time.
(New York Times) — Under firm, if generally polite, examination, New York City’s fire commissioner defended his efforts to recruit minority candidates in court on Tuesday, saying the Fire Department has measurably increased its number of black applicants while rebuilding its ranks a decade after the losses from 9/11. “Even as we’re improving, recovering and rebuilding, we’ve still had it in mind to focus on diversity,” the commissioner, Salvatore J. Cassano, testified at a two-hour proceeding in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. Mr. Cassano’s appearance before the presiding judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis, comes amid bitter litigation in which the city was found to have discriminated against minority candidates through the statistical effects of two prior entrance exams, in 1999 and 2002. His appearance was unusual; neither side had planned to call him as a witness, and the judge ordered it personally on Thursday.
(Chicago Tribune) — As Chicago prepares to pay $30 million to African-American men who were denied firefighting jobs because of a discriminatory entrance exam, the city was hit Tuesday with another lawsuit, this one on behalf of women who were disqualified because they failed the physical abilities test. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court claims that the test, which includes arm exercises, carrying a 2 1/2-inch hose and stair-climbing tasks designed to determine strength and endurance, has an adverse impact on female applicants and is not related to the skills needed to be a firefighter. ”The general feeling is that women … are too weak to be firefighters,” said Marni Willenson, the lead attorney in the suit. “These tests are a tool for keeping women out.”
(Network Journal) — Paul Washington is a New York City firefighter, like his dad and his uncle before him. His brother is also on the job. Some of his cousins are firefighters, too. Family legacies aren’t unusual in the Fire Department of New York, but the Washingtons are — because they are black. And the nation’s largest fire department remains an overwhelmingly white force. But a federal lawsuit, a court order and a revamped application system are offering a glimmer of a future in which the FDNY could become as diverse as the population it serves — a goal other big-city departments have already achieved.
(Chicago Sun Times) — Chicago taxpayers are “hemorrhaging” money, thanks to the “liberal” and “standardless” award of overtime pay to Chicago Fire Department brass that wiped out savings generated by mandatory furloughs, Inspector General Joe Ferguson has concluded.
In a preliminary report issued Tuesday, Ferguson concluded that straight overtime payments to the Fire Department’s 50 “exempt” employees skyrocketed — from $18,516 in 2008 to $311,180 in 2009 and $191,293 during the first three months of this year.