Mayor Ginther emphasizes diversity as he welcomes Columbus Fire’s newest recruits
Mayor Andrew Ginther welcomed the class of 40 recruits to a classroom at the Columbus’ Southside Fire Academy. His “good afternoon” received a thunderous response from all the recruits.
Eighteen of the recruits are women or people of color, and Ginther said it’s important to emphasize diversity as the responsibilities of the fire department change.
“Because you get into a crisis, you get into a chaotic scene,” Ginther explains. “And so being able to empathize, connect, and defuse situations is of critical importance, not only to police officers, but to firefighters and paramedics as well.”
Firefighters have said in recent years that the prevalence of emergency medical calls has significantly exceeded their calls to put out fires. This means that the city is looking for recruits with a wider range of experience.
“We have to look for different types of candidates with different types of skills. Do we need to search in different places? Public health. Social work, other areas and settings that we think could help, ”Ginther said.
As Columbus tries to build diversity in the public safety ranks, Ginther recognizes that it can be a harder sell when it comes to policing.
“Some people feel an additional barrier to law enforcement, the additional challenges, fear of community, trust, relationship with law enforcement, but we are making good progress there. “said Ginther. “Some of these barriers are not the same barriers as the fire division.”