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WARREN Minorities, women sought to fight fires



Published: Sun, September 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Out of the department's 67 firefighters, eight are minorities, the acting chief said.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- The city's fire department is looking for a few good black men.

And Hispanics and women, too.

Acting Chief James Nutt says his department has been working with Cathy Bercheni, the city's equal employment director, to recruit minority firefighters.

Out of the department's 67 firefighters, eight are minorities, Nutt said.

"We made brochures and have contacted agencies to help us find minorities that would be interested in becoming firefighters," Nutt said.

Fred Harris, safety-service director, says he hopes some women will apply.

"I think we may be one of the only few departments without women firefighters," Harris said.

Course offered: Bercheni said the city wants minorities to take part in a firefighters training course, which will begin Oct. 7. The cost of the course is $750.

Those who are interested in taking the course but who don't have the money should contact the city's community development office, Berchini said. She said the community development office has money to help those who qualify.

"We have had a few people contact us and say they are interested in becoming firefighters but we are looking for more," Berchini said.

Anyone interested can contact Berchini at (330) 841-2739.

The push for minority employees comes in the wake of the inquiry by the U.S. Department of Justice into race relations in the city.

City officials have met with the Justice Department and the Warren Minority Coalition to help improve race relations.

The coalition was chosen by Birdia Roberts, president of the local NAACP. Members include the Rev. Edgar Fisher; Tom Conley, director of the Warren-Trumbull Urban League; and other black community leaders.

What's behind this: The coalition has taken issue with the city's hiring and recruitment practices, training for police officers, racial profiling, a lack of community policing and citizen complaint procedures.

Gustavo Gaynett, director of the U.S. Justice Department's Detroit office, has said he got involved after receiving several calls from residents concerned about police and community relations.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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