01-31-2004, 07:25 AM #1
Largo Fla--Fire Dept Struggles to Teach Diversity
Fire union to delve into discrimination
A human relations committee will provide support for those with complaints as well as provide information about laws and policies.
By SHANNON TAN
Published January 31, 2004
LARGO - The city's firefighters union plans to form a human relations committee to help its members deal with and prevent discrimination in the Fire Department, a workplace rocked repeatedly by inappropriate comments over the past year.
The committee would be a go-to group for firefighters who felt harassed or discriminated against. The committee would be a source for information on relevant statutes, laws or city policies.
It also will review the department's hiring and promotional practices and offer suggestions to improve diversity.
"I wanted to take a more active role in preventing discrimination and harassment from happening any more," said Timothy Baker, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2427. Baker will appoint the committee.
Baker said he hopes city officials and the fire department's leadership, which is nonunion, will work with the committee.
"I ask that we stop pointing fingers and start taking responsibility," he said.
Since November 2002, three veteran lieutenants have resigned or been fired after allegations of inappropriate comments at work. City commissioners strengthened the city's internal harassment policy in October and mandated diversity training for all employees.
The department, like the city, has struggled for years to diversify its workforce. With more than 140 employees in six stations, the department has just three black and three Hispanic firefighters.
The recent incidents of racial intolerance have affected the department's image and morale.
"It breaks my heart to hear that firefighters are embarrassed to walk into a grocery store," said Deputy Chief Jeffrey Bullock.
Chief E. Caroll Williams has been trying to change the department's culture. He rotated lieutenants to different shifts and stations so they can't become too cozy with their subordinates. He removed adult programming from the TVs in the fire houses. Supervisors will undergo training on how to facilitate harassment complaints.
"The Fire Rescue Department will have an ongoing commitment to insuring all Fire Rescue personnel understand and abide by our City policy," Williams wrote in a Jan. 15 memo. "If an employee chooses not to follow this policy, as past practice has shown, he or she will be disciplined appropriately, up to and including termination."
- Shannon Tan can be reached at email@example.com or 445-4174.
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The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.
01-31-2004, 07:37 AM #2
It Sounds like someone just returned from the IAFF Human Relations Conference.
I can't be sure, but the timing of the announcement of the committee is at least coincidental.
I wish the local luck. If any department needs help in this area, Largo seems to be the place."We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them in New York City."
02-03-2004, 01:17 PM #3
- Join Date
- Nov 2002
What is the Racial Makeup of Largo Florida?
You can't diversify if there isn't a Diverse Group to pull from.
That would be like trying to make the New Hampshire Chapter of the NAACP (If there is one) the largest NAACP chapter in the country. Or, like trying to Diversify Howard Dean's Cabinet when he was governor of Vermont.
You cannot force Diversity on an area that is not Diverse. There is a good book out on the truth about Racism. It is called "SCAM!, How Black Leaders are Exploiting Black America" by Rev. Jesse Lee Petersen. I read it and was astonished as to the facts behind the way Black Racism is pretty much drawn up by people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to make a profit.
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