By Ed Runyan
Aside from one black police officer hired in 2012, neither the Warren police nor fire department has hired a female or minority member since 1992, a report released Wednesday says.
With retirement a possibility within a few years for all four female police officers, seven black officers and all eight minority firefighters, the potential exists that both departments might have no minorities or women within four years, the report adds.
The Warren Fire Department, which has about 70 employees, has never employed a female fire-fighter.
In an attempt to restart the flow of women and minorities into these jobs, the city formed the Minority Recruitment Committee late last year.
After five meetings, the committee has submitted a report to the Warren Civil Service Commission outlining its recommendations.
These include membership in the National Firefighter Diversity Recruitment Council, greater use of television and social-media networks to notify potential candidates of job openings and having existing firefighters and police officers visit the schools.
The report also was notable for the recommendations it didn’t make — for example, in the area of physical-agility testing required of firefighter candidates.
The Rev. Frank Hearns, one of the three members of the civil-service commission, in November said something should be done to make it easier for a woman to pass the physical agility test, because no woman has ever passed it.
The committee’s report said it had made the hiring of a female firefighter its “primary concern” and discussed the physical-agility test, saying one of the city’s efforts was to employ Cuyahoga Community College in recent years to administer the test instead of the Warren Fire Department.
That was done to alleviate concerns that current male firefighters might try to sabotage a woman’s chances of passing the test, officials have said.
But the report says it has no suggestions to offer for how to help women pass the physical-agility test in the future.
At Wednesday’s meeting, The Rev. Mr. Hearns said he will want to talk about certain issues that were not addressed in the report. That discussion will take place at the next civil- service meeting at 8 a.m. July 3.
Mr. Hearns said after the meeting he thinks the fire department needs to consider ways to employ women without requiring them to compete at the same level as their young, male counterparts.
“There might be positions that could be developed for the department that wouldn’t entail all of the physical requirements,” he said.
Orneil Heller, assistant fire chief, said the committee feels membership in the National Firefighter Diversity Recruitment Council and continuing to use Cuyahoga Community College for physical agility testing are the biggest steps the city can take to increase the chances of having women join.
Atty. James Fredericka, another civil-service member, said he believes one of the report’s recommendations should be adopted immediately — discontinuing the requirement that new firefighters possess paramedic certification.
That requirement was added in hopes that the fire department might restore an ambulance service two years ago when it received a federal staffing grant. But the paramedic certification has limited the pool of applicants, which has limited the pool of minorities that can be hired, the report says.
In addition to Heller, members of the committee were firefighter Joe Deubel, Capt. Janice Gilmore and Lt. Jeff Cole of the Warren Police Department, Dave Daugherty of the city’s Human Resources office, civil-service member John DiCenso, Councilwoman Helen Rucker, Kisha Jackson of the mayor’s office, and Joan Sullivan of Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative.