I thought the schools were integrated and blacks, whites, and hispanics were in the same
classroom studying the same materials.......is there a secret math class somewhere?
Diversity worries set off alarms
Denver Fire Dept. looking to turn things around
By April M. Washington, Rocky Mountain News
August 6, 2005
Five-year Denver Fire Department veteran Ahmid Nunn longs for the time when he doesn't carry the dubious distinction of being the last black firefighter hired by the city.
He longs for the day when he can tell the black teens he coaches at Montbello High School, those who would like to follow in his footsteps, that their chances of wearing a firefighter's badge are better than winning the lottery.
"As a coach, you tell them that they can be anything they want if they work hard and set their minds to it," said Nunn, 32. "So it's tough to turn around and say to my kids who ask me what it takes to become a firefighter for Denver that their chances are 1 in 500."
The odds are actually better than that, but not by much.
In the past six years, Denver has hired 272 firefighters. Fifty were Hispanic, two were American Indians, two were Asian, 10 were women and 203 were white males. Five black firefighters were hired in 1999 and 2000, but none since.
In all, the department has 916 firefighters. Of those 54 are black, 196 are Hispanic, 14 are American Indians, nine are Asians, 37 are women and remaining 606 are white males.
"It's absolutely embarrassing that we haven't hired an African-American in five years," Denver Fire Chief Larry Trujillo said. "There's no excuse for it. We've done well with hiring Hispanics and others, but not as well as we would like."
The lack of diversity within the department's ranks, particularly among blacks, has become such a concern that the city's Civil Service Commission has temporarily stopped testing firefighter candidates - largely at the urging of Trujillo and Denver Manager of Safety Al LaCabe.
The commission is overhauling the testing process in an attempt to fix the problem, which, if not addressed, could get worse in the next few years as many minority firefighters become eligible for retirement.
"We know there's a diversity issue, and it's been especially problematic among African-Americans," said Chris Olson, president of the Civil Service Commission. "It's disturbing to us all.
"We are working cooperatively with the fire department. Our goal . . . is to make sure the department reflects the diversity of the community. It's a matter of how do we get there."
Sooner is better than later, firefighters say.
"A lot of what's going on is that the word is out that if you're black don't bother applying to get on Denver's fire department because you won't get hired," said Kevin Duncan, president of Colorado Black Professional Firefighters. Duncan recently was promoted to captain at Station 10.
"We need to change that perception if we expect to turn this problem around."
Task force studying issue
Last fall, Trujillo sent a letter to the Civil Service Commission and LaCabe demanding that testing stop and steps be taken to ensure that the department's minority ranks reflect the makeup of the metro area.
Census numbers show the metro area is 11 percent black, 31 percent Hispanic and 49.5 percent female.
Against that backdrop, Mayor John Hickenlooper's administration formed a diversity task force to examine minority recruitment and hiring practices within all safety departments, including fire, police and sheriff's.
The task force is expected to release its findings and recommendations this fall.
Denver plans to implement a revised testing process in January and beef up recruitment efforts. The fire department has appointed a full-time recruiter to target minorities and women.
Some changes being proposed or already implemented:
• A consulting firm, CWH Management Solutions of Englewood, has been hired to develop new testing procedures. The company has a track record in crafting tests that have led to increased hiring of minority firefighters elsewhere.
• Applicants will be allowed to complete each step of the testing process before they are eliminated as potential hires. Currently, if they fail one segment, they are disqualified.
• The city may establish a board made up of firefighters, civil service commissioners and human resource experts to conduct interviews to better determine an applicant's overall character and suitability for the job.
• Denver may put in place a process in which candidates' past transgressions - if relatively minor - could be considered on a case-by-case basis. Now, past drug use and felony and some misdemeanor convictions result in automatic disqualification.
"The bottom line is that we are looking at a number of things we think we can change so we can attract qualified minority applicants," LaCabe said.
"We haven't been able to directly identify one particular thing that has had an adverse impact on minorities. There's a number of stumbling blocks in what Civil Service had been doing that we are changing."
Laying the blame
One of those stumbling blocks was the testing process, Trujillo said.
He laid blame at the foot of the Civil Service Commission, which instituted a computerized testing system five years ago that he believes was culturally biased and crafted in a way that largely benefited white applicants.
"I can honestly tell you that I would not be sitting here as chief today with the rules that are being enforced today," he said. "Let me make it clear, I'm not sitting here advocating that we lower the standards. I'm simply trying to create a testing and hiring process that's fair to everybody."
If something doesn't change now, he said, the department will become even less diverse in the next five years. That's because one-third of black firefighters, nearly 60 percent of Hispanic firefighters and 100 percent of Asian and American Indian firefighters become eligible to retire.
The majority of Denver's minority firefighters were hired in the late 1970s and 1980s after the city was forced by the courts to integrate its safety departments.
During that time, the fire department's hiring practices were governed by what was known as the Bedan Decree. In essence, for every white applicant hired, the fire department had to hire a minority. That practice of one-for-one hiring ceased in the late 1980s.
From then until the late 1990s, Denver's hiring practices consisted of what was known as the "cattle call."
Every two years the city would publicize that it was hiring firefighters, and thousands of people would flock to the Denver Coliseum or Currigan Hall - replaced since then by the Colorado Convention Center - to take a basic written test to vie for fewer than 100 positions.
If an applicant passed, he or she would join a pool of potential candidates. Those selected to move forward were given a battery of additional tests that were no more difficult than the tests given today.
There was a key difference, however: Job candidates were interviewed by a half-dozen boards that assessed their character and judgment skills. All candidates were then ranked based on how they performed on various tests and during the face-to-face interviews.
At the time, the boards could give minority and female applicants preferential standing in the rankings. Also, the physical and agility tests accounted for a greater percentage of an applicant's overall score and rank.
Today, civil service rules give little weight to the physical and agility portion of the tests to avoid discriminating against women.
Typically, the top-ranked candidates were offered a job with the fire department. Under that system, five blacks were hired between fall 1999 and fall 2000.
Moving the bar
In 2000, the Civil Service Commission scrapped the cattle-call process and put in place a computer-based testing system in which applicants could take an entry-level exam - designed at a middle school level - at any time.
Job candidates were then given a battery of tests that includes written and suitability exams, a psychological profile, agility exam and background check. They also were given a video-simulation test that was designed to gauge their on-the- job judgment abilities.
For the most part, an applicant was given a pass or fail mark after each test, and the video test accounted for a greater percentage of one's overall score and rank. The catch: An applicant had to pass the first test before he or she could proceed to the second, and so on. One failing grade and the applicant was eliminated and couldn't apply again for another year.
What led to black applicants failing to make the cut in the past five years? Most did not score high enough on the video exam to move forward. The one black applicant who did took a job with another fire department.
The Civil Service Commission set the passing score for each group of applicants, and it could change with each group. For example, the passing score for one group could be 85 and for the next it might be 86.
Olson, the commission president, said the cutoff score was adjusted to limit the applicant pool competing for a limited number of jobs and to contain testing and training costs.
The cutoff score was not moved so that it eliminated minorities, he said.
Trujillo and some employment experts disagree.
"If you move the bar knowing the population you profess that you're trying to capture is not in the pool, then you make it harder to capture the people you say you're going after," said Alton Scales, a human resource and recruiting expert at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
"That's where the fallacy is in the logic. What's taking place is a subtle form of discrimination, and it is being done under the guise of economic restraint," he said.
Also, many blacks failed to pass the math segment of the test, which consisted of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Many Hispanics fell victim to the reading segment.
Civil service officials say many black and Hispanic males between the ages of 18 and 25 also were disqualified because of past criminal activity.
Candidates are automatically eliminated if they have a felony or misdemeanor conviction for drug use or distribution, brandishing a weapon or assault, among other transgressions.
A 'blue-collar job'
The city is considering changes in which job candidates' past transgressions would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
"The question is where do you make the cutoff for past problems?" Olson said. "If someone engaged in significant criminal activity up until age 17, have they all of the sudden become an angel at age 18? I don't know; we're looking at that."
Trujillo has argued in the past year for such a change, contending that applicants should not be penalized all of their lives for past problems.
In many cases, Trujillo said, potential black and Hispanic recruits grew up in tough northwest and northeast Denver neighborhoods where they had to do things society and the law frown upon.
"It sickens me that they're penalizing people for what they did in their past," Trujillo said. "I grew up near Florida and Federal . . . a scrappy part of the city where you had to do things just to survive.
"If it's up to me, I don't want the guy who took someone's lunch money. I want the guy who fought to keep it."
Some veteran firefighters echoed the chief's sentiments, complaining that the current testing process has resulted in the hiring, in the words of one firefighter, of a "bunch of willy-nilly bookworms" who lack the heart and, at times, courage for the job.
"Education is important and being prepared is important," said Phil Champagne, a veteran firefighter and spokesman for the department. "Our job is a blue-collar job, no matter how you look at it."
Duncan, the president of the Colorado Black Professional Firefighters association, said no one is advocating for the lowering of the department's standards. But they are pushing for a hiring process that's more fair and doesn't largely benefit white males only.
He said the path he walked nearly 20 years ago to achieve his dream of becoming a Denver firefighter wasn't an easy one. He failed the test his first time, but he didn't give up.
He sought tutoring from the Urban League and then passed the tests with flying colors.
Both Duncan and Nunn said they fear that black firefighters, among other minorities in the department, could become extinct if the obstacles now in place remain.
"I just hope someday the department finds a way to strike a balance," Nunn said. "I hope someday I'm not going to be the last African-American hired."
A call for diversity
• Almost a year ago, Denver Fire Chief Larry Trujillo sent a letter to the Civil Service Commission and safety manager Al LaCabe, demanding that testing stop and steps be taken to ensure that the fire department's minority ranks reflect the ethnic makeup of the metro area.
Chief: Tests favor whites
• Denver's fire chief says a computerized testing system established five years ago was culturally biased and crafted in a way that largely benefited white applicants.
This chart shows applicants' scores in spring 2004 who met the cutoff score of 86. Candidates at this point had passed the initial screening, a computerized written test and a video test.
Score Black Hispanic White Asian Indian Undetermined
Source: Denver Fire Department
Applicants must pass an initial screening before they are allowed to take the first-round tests. If they pass these tests, they progress to physical testing.
The different tests and sample question from each:
Measures how well applicants are able to perform basic mathematical functions required of an entry-level firefighter. It consists of fire-related story problems and formulas. The test is made up of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems. In addition, some problems call for simple algebra. There are 25 questions.
• A firefighter has to search a warehouse that is 60 feet long and 40 feet wide. What is the perimeter of the warehouse?
A. 100 feet
B. 150 feet
C. 200 feet
D. 240 feet
Measures an applicant's ability to read maps and figure out directions. The test measures how well candidates are able to recognize the direction in which they are headed and how well they are able to assess the viability and length of various routes on a map. There are 25 questions.
• You are at the store on Lake and heading to the cleaners on Forest. What is the shortest way to get there?
A. North on Lake to Forest, east on Forest
B. South on Lake to Indian, east on Indian to Black, North on Black to Forest, east on Forest
C. South on Lake to Indian, east on Indian to Meadow, north on Meadow to Forest, west on Forest
D. South on Lake to Indian, east on Indian to Pacific, north on Pacific to Forest, west on Forest
Measures how well applicants understand what they read. In consists of a number of short paragraphs followed by questions. The information needed to answer the questions is contained in the paragraphs. In some instances, they may have to draw a logical conclusion based on the information given. There are 25 questions.
• The behavior of wildland fire is affected by weather. The wind fans the flames into greater intensity and provides fresh air that speeds combustion. Medium amount of recent precipitation, as well as the current relative humidity, also affect fire behavior. Long-term drying of brush produces a fuel that is more combustible, while precipitation determines the moisture content of live fuels.
According to the passage, wind affects the behavior of wildland fire by drying it out and making it more combustible.
As stated in the passage, which of the following weather factors affect fire behavior in wildlands.
C. The amount of recent rainfall
D. Both A and C
Measures mechanical abilities that are important to the entry-level firefighter position. Applicants are shown an animated video of mechanical procedure. The test is made up of 31 questions that have anywhere from two to five multiple-choice answers.
• What should be the reading on the scale?
A. 10 pounds
B. 20 pounds
C. 30 pounds
D. 0 poundsThe Correct Answer Is C. The Perimeter Of The Warehouse Is Calculated By Adding 60 Plus 40 And Then Multiplying By 2. The Correct Answer Is D, Sin ...
Sounds like legitimized racism against white people.
I'd bet that this, while angering, is not surprising to anyone on this forum.
Forced diversity is inherently racist, regardless of the job, community, etc.
This is not exactly a question about caviar or country music
or whatever whites discuss in their secret meetings........
• A firefighter has to search a warehouse that is 60 feet long and 40 feet wide. What is the perimeter of the warehouse?
A. 100 feet
B. 150 feet
C. 200 feet
D. 240 feet
I need some change, two $10's for a $5 please.
Well they can either fix it or get hit with a consent decree just like San Francisco did way back when.
So they are gonna' have to dumb down the test. Lower the standards.
ETA I work for a moderate sized department in the east SF bay area. My department has over the past five years hired approximately 80 people. That's about a third of our total suppression force. Of those 80 people, approx. 60 are of color or are female. You gotta' be sharp to get a job if you are a white male.
With all of that being said, the great majority of the people that we have hired are an outstanding group of individuals. I know that all of them passed our very tough academy and that most of them are fully capable of doing the job.
As to the idea of allowing felons to get this work......not a good idea. If we hired a known felon, I and everyone else I work with would never trust this person. Ever. The stakes are way too high.
Back in the days of my youth I worked for the State of California for the CCC's.
My dream was to become a member of the California Department of Forestry as a fire fighter.
After a year of hands on experince as a member of a fire crew fighting fires running every tool froma a Pulaski to a chainsaw, being a volunteer fire fighter at a structural/residential CDF station and having my EMT liscense I thought I would be a shoe-in for a job with the CDF as a Wildland Pumper Truck Engineer.
I took the exam and did the interview, I passed both.
My girlfriend at the time also took the exam, more at the urging of the CCC director than out of a burning desire to become a Wildland Pumper Truck Engineer.
When the scores came back I found that I had scored in the 89th percentile.
The cut-off was at 84%.
I figured I had a job.
Not so fast sparky!
My final ranking was then put through the minorty/female filter and guess what?
I didn't get the job.
To make the "quota" the CDF was hiring females and minorities who scored at the 76th percentile and above. My girlfriend scored at 82% and she was offered a job.
When I went to the CDF director at my center he explained the numbers to me.
I would have needed to score at least a 94% to be offered a job because of the minority/female hiring quotas.
It's beyond me why ANYONE would want to hire someone who was LESS qualified for a job based on their race or gender.
I don't get it? You have a set of standards for getting hired. If you pass these standards you get hired. So now we lower the standards so we have a larger pool of people. Then in the name of racial diversity we hire the person that is less qualified.
Dumb down the tests, and fill the ranks with gang banging felons.
Aint affirmative action great?
The whole purpose of the civil service exam is to identify the best and brightest of the applicants.
Now we throw that out, and hire based on skin color. And the blacks call the whites racist????
We are screwed boys and girls.....Rich
Ultimate diversity applicant. Black, disabled, female, illegal alien with a drug habit and a felony record.
Berkely F. D. ?
Funny you should mention that.
We recently had a few new stations built.
Building code required us to put in handicapped facilities, including handicapped accessible toilets and showers.
Technically stations are public buildings, so theoretically you might have occassion to take a dump there. But you definitely are not taking a shower there, ever.
Maybe a sign of things to come?
The answer is indeed 200 feet. They asked for the perimeter, not square footage.
BTW, I think it's hilarious how people think that "diversity" is somehow a virtuous thing. Diversity doesn't mean diddly. Character is what counts. Qualifications count. Performance counts.
Color or race shouldn't matter during the hiring process. Apparently, it does to some.
Not so. As a public building it could be used in an emergency to house any group of people who might be displaced for whatever reason. Personally, I'd want them to be able to take a shower if they are going to be in my firestation while I'm working.
What difference does it make anyway whether there are handicapped accessable toilets or showers?
They just get used like all the others but will accomodate a wheelchair if necessary. The handicapped toilet isn't some "sacred ground" in the bathroom........I use them all the time as there is more room than the standard phone booth sized stall where you can't even close the door without having to stand beside the damned toilet.
Victimize those who make the demands and set the standards......build it to the highest standards of absurdity and let them feel the pain of paying the bill for it. Thats my opinion.
I work in a city that has made 0 (zero) improvements on its fire stations in the past 45 years. They are fucking dumps. I'd gladly fuck the taxpayers out of every last bent nickel they had to improve the stations. They've saved millions over the years and meanwhile the firefighters have been living in squalid conditions. If the city were a landlord renting these buildings in the same condition they'd be in prison. We had the aldermen do a walkthrough to see the slum like conditions first hand. they were appauled.........but not appauled enough to do anything about it. That "walkthrough" was over a year ago and not one thing......NOT ONE THING has been done on any of the buildings to date.
As far as diversity goes.......civil service should be abolished, lock stock and barrel. Its just a way of diluting the employee ranks with under qualified applicants via racism. Every job that uses it as the basis for hiring suffers.
Political Correctness run amok.
Heheheh. Welcome to the new America.
That swim test is a MFer!
Just think........if people know their arrest records won't be held against them when applying for a good job................
Someone didn't pay attention in math class
The poster YOU corrected, I may not be a math savant but I know what a perimeter is
Dude, the answer is indeed 200 feet
Not sure what the confusion is, I highlighted my answer at the beginning C. 200 feet
You think its hard getting into Denver Fire by being black, it is much harder to get in being white. Trust me. I took the Denver test. I volunteered at a local station and got my training. They give extra points to minorities. Points that whites just dont get. I dont know where this guy is getting his shit from.
They're calling that better "but not by much" compared 1/500!???
- The test is written in English.
- It has math.
- It involves use of higher-reasoning and judgement.
- Convicted felons are automatically disqualified.
- Brute strength is discounted (so the ladies can pass easier).
I guess they want sections to include "Understanding Ebonics", "Dribbling between the legs" and "prison ink techniques".
Most cities realized some time ago that the way you hire blacks with civil service testing is you bring them in...give them a pencil and NO MATTER WHAT...they get enough "Bonus Points" to pass the test.Their actual score is then added to the automatic passing grade and there you have it.
Why even give a test to blacks?
Today's news says that Texas is now a minority/majority. It is 48% white and 52% minority. Does this now mean affirmative action is for whites only?
Hey somebody knows about the good ole merit system where you are punished for being a white male.
Get used to it. In the past 12 months I have tested at three departments. I made it to the interview 3 times and on every panel, they asked a question on diversity. Quite frankly, it doesn't matter what color you are. What matters is: Can you save my ass when I'm in a bind?
The lack of diversity doesn't mean that departments are racist. It doesn't mean that tests are culturally biased. When one looks around at the applicants at the written exam, people will notice that the vast majority of people are white males. I recently tested at a large SF Bay Area department. A city that has a 60% black population. However, out of the 1500 or so applicants, I probably could have counted the number of black applicants on my fingers and toes.
I also am in the process of getting an AA in Fire Tech at a school where Whites make up less than 30% of the student population. Yet white males make up more than 75% of the students trying for a Fire Tech degree. When your candidates for the FD coming out of population of non-whites are overwhelmingly white, one must consider the implications.
When white people dominate the applicant pool, it is only reasonable to expect that the majority of new hires will be white males. It doesn't mean that they are better, it just means that there are more of them. Fire Departments like Berkeley will be in a world of hurt when they realize their "dream" of a 50% female firefighting staff. If you have to hire 12 new firefighters, you must assume that at least 6 of them must be female. Well, if only 10 females show up to the written and 1000 males show up, it fucks up the scale. Men will have a .6% chance of getting a job, where women have a 60% chance of getting their badge. PEOPLE WILL DIE BECAUSE OF THIS ASSININE POLICY. But hey, "we have a diverse staff that is reflective of the community". I swear to christ, the next person who says this to me will have an ass chewing". And I'm not even white.
The central problem is not in the testing. If a community wants diversity, they must address the problem at it's root. Recruitment must start at the very beggining. Talk to kids and recruit them. Let them know what will be expected of them. Only when this happens will we have diversity that is truely respected by the departments, chiefs, firefighters and community.
By that rationale, all the firefighters would be Asian girls.
I hate fucking racists.
Do these butt-munchers want firefighters to have the same racial makeup as the metro area, or do they mean the same criminal makeup? If the former, they're racists. If the latter, they're idiots.
Remember.........he is "math challenged"
maybe black dudes don't feel like being firemen?
Hey, I know.........lets use qualified applicants..............naaaaaaa...........not pc
It does involve alot of water
I know. That's what the is for.
You know most people went for 240.
Don't forget those spotted dogs
Thanks for clearing that up
I think I could do a prison tat, but my ebonics are really weak