Baltimore Fire Dept. to Seek More Minorities

BALTIMORE --

The Baltimore City Fire Department is teaming with civil rights organizations in an effort to increase minority recruitment.

Last week, the WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team exposed how the Baltimore City Fire Department abandoned hiring procedures designed to make the department more diverse.

The Fire Department, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Urban League announced Wednesday a new partnership intended to create a civilian task force to reverse a recent decline in minority and female cadets going through the Fire Academy.

"Our goal in this new recruiting effort is to increase those numbers to 50 percent city residents and 60 percent members of minority groups," Baltimore City Fire Chief James Clack said.

"I am very pleased to announce today that we have created a partnership both with the Baltimore City Fire Department, the NAACP as well as the Urban League to strengthen our recruitment efforts in the Fire Department," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

The announcement comes less than a week after the I-Team discovered little evidence that the Fire Department is actively seeking minority candidates in a city where African-Americans make up 63 percent of the population.

The Fire Academy class graduating next month is nearly all white. Out of the 45 members, five are African-American and three are women. The very next academy class has no female cadets.

"We all know that Baltimore is a very diverse city," Clack said. "If we focus our recruiting efforts on those city residents, then our efforts will recruit a diverse pool of candidates."

Last week, fire officials told the 11 News I-Team that the department's last recruitment efforts took place more than two years ago consisting of visits to 20 places, including schools, churches and community events. When the I-Team attempted to contact them all, half said they had no recollection or documentation to support the Fire Department's claim.

A department representative told the I-Team that the Fire Department did staff recruiting events but "it appears that the record keeping for the past recruitment efforts have not been managed as they should have and what was provided to WBAL doesn't reflect the actual efforts."

The Fire Department has created a recruitment committee that will now include a member of the NAACP.

"Under this new partnership, the NAACP and the Urban League will work with a diverse cross-section of local faith institutions and community associations to promote the Fire Department's recruitment efforts," Rawlings-Blake said.

The task force is scheduled to meet over next few months to come up with a recruitment strategy.

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