Pawtucket Times: Central Falls plans initiative to diversify fire department

By Josh Sullivan3.JPG

CENTRAL FALLS - Mayor James Diossa recently announced the city's campaign to improve the diversity within the fire department. By making an effort to hire 4 new firefighters, the department hopes to sprinkle some diversity into the 36 firefighters that currently employs no people of color and only one woman.

"As Central Falls continues our comeback, we are thrilled at the opportunity to welcome more women and people of color into our fire department to ensure that our city workforce reflects the community they serve," said Mayor Diossa.  "These hires will be done in a fiscally responsible way: not changing our minimum manning and ultimately reducing our overtime costs."

The city recently revamped its public safety hiring ordinance in an effort to improve the diversity of its public safety staff.  Currently, the fire department has one woman and no people of color out of 36 fire fighters. The ordinance, sponsored by City Council President Pro Temp Stephanie Gonzalez, mandates an aggressive advertising strategy in the community and gives preference to those who live in Central Falls, those who are veterans and those who speak additional languages.  

"Our fire department is world class - having survived receivership and bankruptcy - and come through stronger than ever," said Fire Chief Robert Bradley. "We are excited to start spreading the word throughout the community about the opportunity to join and diversify our great department."

Recently, Senator Jack Reed, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman David Cicilline announced that Central Falls won federal funding to improve its fire department. The funding is made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program. The Central Falls Fire Department is receiving $544,264 from the SAFER program to hire the new firefighters, as well as $28,572 for fire hose replacement. 

SAFER and AFG are competitive grant programs designed to aid fire departments and emergency medical service organizations in meeting their equipment, training, and other needs. Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders have won over $26 million in AFG awards since 2001 and $14.5 million in SAFER awards since 2005.

The fire fighter application is on the city's website at this link: or in Spanish at or in Portuguese at

In addition, potential applicants can call the city's Human Resources department at 727-7405 for more information.

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