Pueblo Fire Chief looking to make department more diverse

Posted at 4:52 PM, Jul 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-27 18:52:06-04

Pueblo Fire Chief Shawn Shelton said the Pueblo Fire Department has never had a black firefighter in its history.

That’s something he wants to change.

"We have really struggled with that in the past. Typically, this last time around, the way I looked at the numbers, there were only a few black applicants. Unfortunately, none of them did well enough on the test to get them into the interview process. We hope to change that," Shelton said.

The department is teaming with retired firefighter Eugene Polk. Polk was one of the few black firefighters in the Pueblo area. Shelton said Polk was a firefighter at the Pueblo Test Track in Pueblo County.

The chief says he thinks the reason there isn’t more diversity at the department is because of the EMT certification needed to get an interview with the department.

"We all have to be EMTs to be firefighters and so many years back we required EMT certification to apply for the job. What we found in looking at the state statistics that minorities are disproportionately represented in EMTs across the state of Colorado."

Shelton changed that rule two years ago. He is allowing anyone to go through the firefighter hiring process, regardless of EMT certification. Applicants would then have one year to get EMT certified.

"Everybody is welcome at our department, and we really strive for a diverse workforce because that’s the best thing for everybody. We did a much better job this last time around in recruiting Hispanics. We hope to do a better job this time around recruiting black people to take the test as well."

CLICK HERE if you are interested in joining the department.

The application process opens on Aug. 2.