Bob Crawford has been appointed as the new fire paramedic chief for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent. (Photo courtesy of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent).

CKFES Makes Diversity A Priority In Recruitment Process

The municipality’s fire and EMS chief wants to make Chatham-Kent a more inclusive community and he’s starting with recruitment.

Fire and Paramedic Services Chief Bob Crawford says he has noticed a lack of inclusion in Chatham-Kent and many other communities. This is something he wants to change.

“These jobs are really challenging, but they’re well compensated,” says Crawford. “They give you an opportunity to really contribute to the community. If you’re okay with working at heights, and working in closed spaces, and you are physically fit, and you’re able to pass the various testing that is in place, in can be a real transformational career change for the people living in our community.”

The chief says he has noticed that every year Chatham-Kent Fire and Emergency Services (CKFES) consistently ends up with a team that is highly effective and efficient, but primarily Caucasian and male.

Crawford says the CKFES is doing some recruiting this year, which includes filling vacancies for two assistant chiefs and two training officers. He adds that he is going to put together a pool of about 20 candidates for a probationary fire fighter to try to deal with the vacancies as retirements take place over the next few years.

“One of the ways to change it is to throw the net wider..try to recruit people– at least engage and include them in the process,” says Crawford. “I can’t guarantee the job will be there, but I can certainly guarantee the people have a fair and equitable chance to come and compete.”

Crawford says he wants to attract people from many different cultures and backgrounds. He says CKFES will be adjusting its recruitment methods to reach out to the community and inform residents about how they can be included in the search for candidates.

“Culturally, I think we’ve all had a role to play in this. We make assumptions about stereotypical roles and who best to fill them, but around the world there’s fire fighters working as we speak in every country on every continent,” he explains. “They all effectively do the same type of work. You don’t have to be a caucasian from Northern Europe to be able to be an effective firefighter.”

Crawford says he also wants to improve how CKFES communicates its hiring process with the public and ensure that all residents are aware of opportunities.

He says there will be an advertisement coming out for probationary fire fighters in the next few weeks.

*With files from Matt Weverink