FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Fort Wayne Fire Department has created a new PSA in an effort to hire more firefighters and grow diversity in the department. The effort follows the creation of the United Front initiative, established after the unrest the city and country saw in 2020.
“Hiring and getting people to join us was very important, but we wanted to make people be aware that they would be joining a family,” Andrea Burton told WANE 15 about the new commercial spot. “This is a people job, so that’s what we want to highlight the most. Because, if you’re a people person, and if you’re called upon an emergency to act in that way, you can have empathy towards the people you are helping.”
According to Fire Chief Eric Lahey, there’s been an effort since the unrest we saw last year, to make the department more welcoming to all kinds of people. That effort turned into the citywide initiative United Front.
“We know what’s happening across the country with racial issues and public safety entities,” Lahey said. “This wasn’t an attempt to point fingers or assign blame to anyone, but it was an effort to learn about the things that make us all unique, but more importantly, those things that make us all have this shared humanity, those things that bring us together.”
The chief told WANE 15 the comfort level of people taking part in United Front discussions about race has greatly improved throughout the year. One of the department’s firefighters said understanding where others come from builds trust.
“By having that trust, we’re able to enter in to your own on maybe one of the worst days when you feel most vulnerable and serve you in a way that will have the greatest impact and the best benefit,” Kamron Bell added.
According to Lahey, the department has 25 fewer firefighters than the maximum amount. There are 16 firefighters in the most recent class of recruits. Those interested can apply at the department’s website here: https://www.fortwaynefiredepartment.org/career-opportunities/hiring-process