Chief wants workforce to reflect community

Local News
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Every two years, the Champaign Fire Department looks for new recruits. That time is now. This year, they’re going out of their way to look for the very best candidates.

Becoming a firefighter is not easy and, once you get the job, it doesn’t get easier. Chief Ludwig believes there are many qualified candidates in the community who might not know they’re the right fit because of stereotypes.

“When I grow up, I want to be a firefighter.”

“This job is awesome, best in the world.”

Words said by many young kids after seeing big, shiny red firetrucks.

“My grandfather was a fireman and, growing up and listening to his stories, drove me to want to do it.”

These men in suits are admirable heroes in the community, but Chief Ludwig noticed the heroes have something else in common.

“The majority of them are white males.”

Ludwig says it’s time to change that.

“One of the things we want to try to achieve, since we have a diverse community, is a diverse work force. It includes Asians, blacks, Hispanics and that includes women.”

He says a diversified organization is stronger. In a job which takes brute strength to complete, having different viewpoints and ways of looking at problems only improves the department.

“One of the things we want to try to do is create role models for those coming up that are not white males, so they can look at an uncle or brother or someone in their family who’s a firefighter and say, ‘You know, that’s what I want to do sometime in my future.'”

Becoming a firefighter takes more than courage and a suit. It means tests; both physical and mental. And, tough competition.

“It is a very rigorous, very strenuous, and very taxing job and burdensome job when you have to put all the gear on and work inside a fire.”

But, if this is your childhood dream, Chief Ludwig says, it’s time. The application process is open until next month.

Speaking of firetrucks, Champaign’s newest $1.2 million ladder truck can raise up to 107′ in the air.

For more information, click here

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