Waco Fire Department pushing to diversify - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Waco Fire Department pushing to diversify

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)

The Waco Fire Department is currently accepting applications, and Fire Chief Tatum said he hopes the new applicants lead to a more diverse department. 

"Our goal is to have the best fire fighting force that we can," Tatum said. "Our goal is to have a fire department that reflects the community we serve," he added.

The chief said that there are currently 200 fire fighters on the department. Of those 200, the chief said 14 are African-American or Hispanic males, and none of them are women. 

Chief Tatum said he hopes to bring some diversity to the department during this push to hire new firefighters. 

"I think that traditionally people of color and women didn’t see a place in the fire service," he said. "When I was a young man, I never saw the fire department as a career choice because I’ve never seen anyone who looked like me."

Tatum said he believes having firefighters who reflect the community - by both gender and race - will create a healthy dialogue between the department and the people of Waco. 

For Deputy Fire Marshall Keith Guillory, having someone who looked like him encouraged him to become a fireman. 

" [Within} my family, it’s kind of a generational thing," Guillory said. "I have an uncle in the city of Houston who’s a fireman, [and] I have a brother who’s serving in Austin. 

Guillory said that being a black man and a firefighter is not something he takes lightly.

"It’s an opportunity for people to come in and pave the way for other people to come in and do this job, and do it at a high level," he said. "It’s a pretty big badge of honor to carry around."

Tatum said that the department has been going into communities around Waco to try to recruit women and people of color. He said the department has also turned to using social media to try to get more people interested. 

The Chief said that for him, diversifying is about more than just meeting quotas. 

"People working together brings a better department," Tatum said. "Anything’s possible."  

Anyone who wants to apply for a job with Waco Fire must submit their application by 5:00 p.m. on September 30, 2016. 

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