The St. Louis Fire Department presents us with a challenge . . . and an opportunity.
The challenge is to alleviate the obvious racial tension within the Fire Department. The opportunity is to use the strengths we develop in addressing the Department’s challenge to see what else we can do. Ending the racial divisions in a single workplace doesn’t solve everything, but it might be a good place to start.
So, as soon as we have a new Fire Chief, I am going to ask the chief to join me in bringing together African American firefighters, white firefighters, leaders in the African American community, and other people of good will to find a better way to do FD testing and promotions, and to find ways that members of FIRE and Local 73 - and any firefighters who belong to neither - can work together to strengthen a proud department.
I am convinced that if we can bring whites and blacks together in the Fire Department, we can do it anywhere.