The answer is simple: Firefighting is a sport.
But, that doesn’t mean everyone is a fire fighter.
As one of the nation’s top fire departments, the Oklahoma City Fire Department has been criticized for being a predominantly white, middle-class institution that has a reputation for being less competent and trained than its urban counterpart.
Firefighter union members say the department is trying to change that by adopting a diversity plan that emphasizes training, diversity and accountability, but that it also faces a culture of mistrust that has limited access to resources and the ability to provide support.
The fire department’s hiring practices, however, are also fraught with controversy.
In a report issued this year by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the commission said the department did not include a diversity policy in its hiring process, and it failed to include a comprehensive hiring plan that included a discussion of race and ethnicity in its employment policy.
The department also does not follow an explicit policy on diversity training, the report said.
While the union has not endorsed the hiring plan, its members say they would support a formal training program that would include an understanding of diversity in the fire department and how to incorporate it into the recruitment process.
“There are many different things that we would like to see,” said Paul Pomerantz, a union spokesman.
“The department has been so inconsistent in the way they’ve dealt with that issue, and we think there’s a need for a policy that says, ‘Hey, this is what we expect from you.'”
In the last few years, the department has come under increasing scrutiny for its response to a deadly blaze in May at a home in a predominantly black neighborhood in Oklahoma City.
Firefighters who responded to the home’s fire said that while the blaze was out of control, they were not aware that a single African-American firefighter was in the building.
In July, the fire chief publicly apologized for that incident, and the department changed its hiring policy, saying that it would have hired fewer African-Americans if the department had been aware that the fire was a race-related incident.
Pomeranz said that the hiring policy should have included the fact that firefighters were racially diverse.
“I think the fact is, the chief was making a statement that he did not believe that there was any racial component to the incident,” Pomerants said.
“He said that it was a racially diverse fire department.
And that is incorrect.”
After the fire, the city paid $30 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the city of Oklahoma City, the United Firefighters of Oklahoma, the African- American Leadership Network and the Oklahoma Black Political Caucus.
The lawsuit alleged that the city and its Fire Chief, Randy C. Wilson, discriminated against African- Americans by excluding them from positions and policies that had been established to promote diversity.
“This is a city that is in denial of what the African Americans have done,” Pomers said.
The city did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The union has argued that the department’s diversity plan is outdated and should be changed to include more of an emphasis on inclusion, such as an awareness of diversity within the department and a plan for outreach.
But the city has defended its hiring practices as being “forward-thinking.”
The city has also spent millions of dollars to hire new and more diverse officers and firefighters, and has created a new Office of Diversity and Inclusion that is led by a director with expertise in firefighting.
“We’ve hired many new officers and fire chiefs over the past few years and we are excited about the future,” said Chris Treadway, the City Manager of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the department will begin hiring more firefighters in 2018.
“In the next 10 years, I expect the department to have a diverse and inclusive workforce.”
The union, however “is very disappointed with the way the city is going about this and is not satisfied with the progress that has been made,” Pompers said, noting that the mayor is not the chief fire officer.
“They’re trying to make us feel like we’re not the best.
They’re trying not to say what we’re doing is good.
We’ve never had a department that was so poorly trained, that was failing to provide the resources that needed to be provided to us.”
Pomerant said that despite the department being proactive in trying to improve its diversity, he believes that “they are still not taking advantage of the opportunity.”
In recent years, a number of cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta, have enacted policies or programs to encourage minority hiring.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether the Oklahoma city policies and practices violate federal civil rights laws.
“To date, the U,S.
has not taken a comprehensive look at the issues of race in the United States, and so it is not a surprise that this situation continues to exist,” said Amy Howard, a staff attorney at the ACLU.
The ACLU has sued