Boston fire cadet program proposal moves to Beacon Hill for OK

The City Council has signed off on a plan to create a Boston Fire Department cadet program with the aim of making the department more diverse.

“We’re establishing an opportunity for those who historically were not aware the opportunity was available to them,” Vivian Leonard, the city’s head of human resources, told the council.

Mayor Martin Walsh proposed the cadet program earlier this year. It would have to be implemented through a home-rule petition, meaning it has to pass the council, be signed by the mayor and then get the approval of the Legislature and governor. With Walsh’s signature and the council’s approval Wednesday, it now heads to Beacon Hill.

The specifics are still to be worked out if it were to pass, but it would be largely similar to a cadet program formed in 2015 for the police department, which Walsh’s office claims as a success. The two two-year classes of teenagers, first of 30 aspiring cops and the second of 35, each were made up of more that 30% women and 60% people of color.

“They’d get the insight into what it means to be a firefighter,” said Juan Sanchez, head of diversity for the fire department.

Both the fire and police departments have taken flak over the years for remaining largely white and male in a city that’s made up of around 54% minorities. The Fire Department had risen to about 40% people of color around 20 years ago, but has since dropped off to about 28%, according to the city. There are only a handful of female firefighters in the department, which has come under fire recently with allegations of sexism, as outlined in a city-commissioned report earlier this year.

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Source:: Boston Herald

      

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