Fire Department Recruitment Practices Memorandum

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Critique of Past Requirements and a Possible Recruitment Campaign

Although the issue of discrimination in the workplace has been on the global agenda for quite a while, instances of racial profiling remain unresolved, as Soylu and Buchanan (2013) explain in their recent study: “Even in highly diversified workplaces, there is still insensitivity toward legal immigrants, an issue which leads to harassment and discrimination” (p. 848). The situation described in the case study and detailing the recruitment policies in the N-City is a graphic example of a lack of diversity and a disregard for the needs of minorities.

To improve the current situation and build an environment in which equality can be sustained, one should reconsider the current principles of staff testing, by creating a strategy that will help test the actual firefighting skills of the candidates without focusing on their ethnic, racial, or cultural background.

Indeed, past requirements are in complete discord with the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees equal rights for all citizens of the United States: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” (Legal Information Institute, n.d., para. 2).

In pursuing a policy that involved deliberately placing obstacles in the way of racial and ethnic minorities by including elements that require a perfect command of English in the test, the organization made it impossible for people of different ethnic and national backgrounds to be recruited. Furthermore, the current practice of testing the candidates for the position does not align with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which guarantees that every applicant should be provided with equal opportunities as far as employment-related issues are concerned, “without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin” (Transcript of Civil Rights Act (1964), n.d., para. 20).

Changes to the Current Recruitment Strategy: A Test Instead of an Essay

The essay format seems to be the primary obstacle that candidates are incapable of overcoming. In light of the fact that the examination process was designed by members of the organization and not competent authorities, it needs significant changes. Particularly, the fact that the exam tests firefighters’ English-speaking skills, as opposed to the actual abilities related to putting out fires and providing assistance in emergency situations, needs to be brought up.

Hiring a team of HR experts that will help design an appropriate test can be viewed as the first step toward managing the issue. Sending the newly modified assignment to the corresponding state authority able to approve it should be considered the next stage in promoting equality in the department.

As far as the content of the examination is concerned, using an essay format does not seem to be fair, as native speakers have an obvious advantage when compared to ESL candidates. Therefore, it will be necessary to change the format to simple tests. For example, creating a set of tasks with multiple-choice answers can be considered an appropriate way of selecting candidates for the job. In addition, the HR team developing the test, as well as the local committee approving it, will have to see to it that the test does not include overly complicated vocabulary. In scenarios that require the latter, clarification should be provided to ESL and EFL candidates. Thus, an environment in which equal opportunities can be offered to all participants involved will become a possibility.

Furthermore, the organization should refuse to pursue a strategy based on word-of-mouth recruitment. Seeing that the current situation involves certain racial and ethnic disparities, there is a threat that the identified approach will only lead to an increased level of nepotism in the organization, thus preventing minorities entirely from ever becoming a part of the fire department. Although spreading information about the opportunities that the fire department has to offer to the people having the necessary skills and competencies is a good idea, it will, nevertheless, be necessary to make sure that news about job opportunities should be delivered not only to the members of the firefighters’ community, but also other people, including ethnic and national minorities. Therefore, the word-of-the-mouth approach as the means of recruiting new staff members should be reconsidered and, preferably, avoided.

Recruiting Female Firefighters: Training and Changes in Roles and Responsibilities Distribution

The diversity issue also concerns providing female candidates with equal opportunities. It should be borne in mind that firefighting is one of the professions that used to be considered as all-male, mostly due to the requirements of physical strength and related abilities. As a result, the current examinations require testing “maximal handgrip strength” (MacDonald, Pope, & Orr, 2016, p. 45) and associated skills. Therefore, fighting the prejudices in the identified area is clearly going to be a challenging task.

Although the physical test is the primary stumbling block for female applicants in most cases, it is not to be removed from a testing system designed for people who are going to perform the tasks related to actual firefighting. Although the refusal to reduce the complexity of the physical exams might be viewed as the manifestation of inequality, in fact, this complexity has a practical and sensible reason to exist. When addressing situations involving firefighting and lifesaving missions, the employees of the organization face a range of threats. Therefore, their own lives often hinge on their ability to perform a particular task requiring immense physical strength.

Unless the examination includes a test of the candidates’ physical abilities, or incorporates a simplified version thereof, there will always be the threat of an employee dying when performing their duties. In fact, the same principle should be applied when assessing male candidates; if the bar for physical fitness is lowered, there will be a risk of recruiting people who will die or be severely injured when performing their mission.

Nevertheless, the department should be open to evaluating candidates of any gender or ethnicity. Dismissing a candidate on the basis of gender must be viewed as completely inappropriate; only the test results should determine the decision of the organization. In the instances where a male and a female employee achieve equivalent scores, it will be crucial to consider all attendant circumstances in order to make a decision.

Avoiding all forms of disparaging, and creating equal opportunities, must be the direction for all organizations to seek to develop. By offering all members of the community equal chances to become a part of the team, companies will be capable of not only increasing motivation rates among the staff, but also will improve the quality of their performance. By offering opportunities to every member of the community, a company is likely to find staff members with outstanding skills. More importantly, motivating the candidates by giving them equal chances is likely to encourage them to grow professionally by acquiring new knowledge and abilities, as well as exploring all opportunities for continuous development.


Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). 14th Amendment. Web.

MacDonald, D., Pope, R., & Orr, R. (2016). Differences in physical characteristics and performance measures of part-time and fulltime tactical personnel: A critical narrative review. Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health, 24(1), pp. 45-55.

Soylu, A., & Buchanan, T. A. (2013). Ethnic and racial discrimination against immigrants. Journal of Business and Economics, 4(9), 848-858.

Transcript of Civil Rights Act (1964). (n.d.). Web.

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