Marshaling Diversity: The Future of Firefighting
Firefighting is one of the most noble and respected professions in the United States. Unfortunately, it is also one of the least diverse as well, with a 96% male and 82% white (non-Hispanic) workforce as of 2018. According to the Harvard Business Review, a nearly three decade effort to increase diversity has largely failed, due to internal biases and inaccurate public perceptions regarding what skills are needed for success in the industry. Experts agree that what is needed is a systemic change in perception with regards to what firefighting requires.
The Marshall Law and Medical Services High School (MLMS) is an exciting new magnet program in Northside ISD. The campus offers a Firefighting/EMT program that focuses on training San Antonio’s diverse student population with the skills necessary for success in the industry. Currently, approximately 66% of the program’s enrollment is female and 80% are non classified as white. Students enter the program in their 9th grade year and earn skills and certifications concurrently with a traditional high school diploma.
This project is awesome because it takes proactive steps to address the underlying conditions that reduce the diversity of the firefighting industry. As students progress through their four-year program, they learn more than just job skills—they learn how capable and strong a diverse crew can be. We are specifically requesting support to purchase emergency responder medical supply bags for the 11th and 12th grade courses. This increased capacity will enable the program to serve approximately 200 students per year.
As Rebecca Ninberg, L.A. Fire Commissioner, put it: “Changing the culture of firefighting requires a long-term commitment to integrate it into the DNA of the department.” Our commitment to that change began enrolling students in 2018. Together with Awesome SA, San Antonio’s first responders will become a national model for diversity and effectiveness.
Funded by San Antonio, TX (October 2020)