Over past decade or so, race relations at the City’s Fire Department have sometimes been heated. Some of the bad feelings have to do with historic grievances about the management of the Department under former chiefs; others are newer complaints having to do with some pending promotions to supervisory positions.
Whatever the reasons, it is well past time for things to change. Firefighting is too dangerous - and too important - for the Department’s firehouses to be divided against themselves.
In next year’s budget I will seek funding to help underwrite the expense of mandatory training in diversity issues and race relations for all St. Louis firefighters. And the City will ask FIRE and Local 73, the two firefighter organizations that represent most members of the fire service, to develop a plan together that will spell out concrete measures to improve relations between the two groups, and race relations within the Department.
I will have more to say about the pending promotions next week.