Why should a department care if firefighters and paramedics reflect the diversity of the communities they serve? A recent study funded by a Fire Prevention and Safety Research Grant and conducted by the nonprofit FIRE 20/20 indicated that fire departments and members of the multicultural communities...
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THE FACE OF SEATTLE
- 18% of Seattle's adult residents are foreign born
- 22% speak a language other than English at home -- 129 languages are spoken in Seattle public schools
- 16% are 60 years or older
- 19.4% of King County residents are disabled
- 12.2% are below the poverty line
FIRE 20/20 researchers gathered qualitative data through 20 fire-EMS focus groups and 43 multicultural community focus groups with a total of 726 participants. We also conducted 124 individual interviews with fire-EMS personnel and multicultural community members. Quantitative data was collected through 1,391 written and online surveys. We also shot 40 hours of video interviews with both fire-EMS personnel and multicultural community members.
We had planned to do a probability sampling procedure on demographic data related to firefighter and civilian injuries and loss of life in multicultural communities based on the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). While NFIRS provides fields for demographic data, those fields are not required, so early in the project, we came up with our first recommendation: Require the completion of demographic data for NFIRS and add demographic data fields to the Near Miss Reporting System!
"If the fire service is truly committed to reducing firefighter and civilian injuries and loss of life, and enhancing prevention efforts in multicultural communities, we need to first understand the value of demographic data and then take the time to collect, analyze and strategically use it in our planning, resource allocation and prevention programs." -- Ron Siarnicki, executive director, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF).