Friday, March 12, 2010

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND LIBERAL HYPOCRISY: Less Diversity Is Needed in the Fire Service

By Kelly B. Jernigan

This commentary is in response to “A Matter of National Security” by Joseph B. Muhammad of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters (IABFF) (Fire Commentary, September 2009). Wait, what? There is such a thing as the IABFF? Isn’t that what the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) is for? The advancement of firefighters? Not black firefighters, not white firefighters, not female firefighters, not Hispanic firefighters, but FIREFIGHTERS? Aren’t we all one in this profession?

After reading the article during lunch, I continued my daily duties at the firehouse, which included training. During training on a new piece of equipment, I ended up at the computer looking up technical specification questions that arose with our hands-on ventures. I did not find what I was looking for, but my search endeavors led me to the forums on the Fire Engineering Web site ( regarding discrimination in the fire service. The topic was not as popular as I originally thought. I was expecting an infinite number of search results written by anyone who had an opinion on racism and diversity. However, very few of these articles were of any relevance to the fire service.

In the forums, I discovered the same type of promotional test controversy in Houston, Texas. I searched for the case and found the article “7 Black Houston Firefighters Sue, Say City Exam Biased.” Similar to the New Haven 20 case, Dennis Thompson, the lawyer for the black firefighters in Houston, argued the tests were unfair. “Firefighters trying to attain the rank of captain and above in the Houston Fire Department must take a 100-question multiple-choice test. Numerous studies show that blacks as a group do less well on high-stakes tests,” Thompson said. He also stated, “Fire departments should use cognitive tests only as a pass-fail benchmark and also should focus on performance exercises and other criteria.” (Carolyn Feibel, Houston Chronicle, February 6, 2009)

Captain Otis Jordan, president of the Houston Black Firefighters Association (HBFA), said, “We don’t do as well on these multiple-choice tests.” He also stated, “I compare fighting a fire, riding an apparatus, to playing football. Your best athlete might not be the straight-A student.” Statements such as these say to me Jordan believes black firefighters are not as intelligent as those of other races. It sounds like these lawyers and black firefighter associations are trying to prove their point by making their own race look bad. The HBFA was not affiliated with the lawsuit.

If I were black, I would be irate at this lawyer or this group for saying I am not smart enough to take the same test as other races. I know if I were involved in a female coalition and it represented me with this argument, I would definitely ask for my dues back. READ MORE...

RELATED- EMBARRASSMENT TO THE FIRE SERVICE: Racist Crybabies: Black Firefighters Seek To Halt Promotions of White Firefighters in New Haven...

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