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Diversity in fire service is a management torment. Bringing employees of different ages, genders, nationalities, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or personalities to work together and to accomplish a common goal may sound impossible and ridiculous. Diversification of employees within a firefighting organization can be complicated, especially in rural areas. Conflicts and misunderstandings may arise due to different languages, learning styles, religious beliefs, and education levels (Thiel & Jennings, 2012).They may in turn paralyze the fire department or even render it ineffective. Increasing diversity in a fire or emergency department is therefore not a priority.
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Diversity has an impact on the correspondent organizations. Fire and emergency organizations have to lower their hiring standards. It only makes further complicated matters by bringing to question the issue of safety and the diminishing respected status of a firefighter. For a scenario in rural firefighting, the problematic concern of diversity comes together with many barriers: age, religion, gender, and culture. The complications intermingle with communal bias and prejudice, therefore ultimately lowering the fire and emergency service organization’s effectiveness (McNeil, 2008).
Achieving diversity generates many challenges. An instance where the fire and emergency services organizations recruit in areas providing qualified minority people without compromising on the standards is difficult to find. Additionally, recruiters should be willing to commit the time to approach minorities and get qualified incumbent recruits with a positive attitude. An equal commitment is necessary during the mentoring program preceding the physical ability test for both genders. The process already abolishes the success of applicants struggling with aspects of physical ability, thus making it complicated to meet the diversity threshold. Many leaders are running local fire and emergency service organizations of members of the segregated communities and, therefore, hae little or no opportunity to interact with diverse cultures or people. They internalize stereotypical beliefs regarding race, sexual orientation, gender, and nationality. The leaders are the first challenge to the issue of achieving a diverse workforce, which makes it even more difficult to meet the respective community’s needs (Thiel & Jennings, 2012).
The diversity challenges that fire and emergency department face are not different from what other organizations may encounter. The reason to this is that other organizations also encourage variance in the workforce. Diversity management lays in more than mere recognizing the differences in people. It incorporates acknowledging the value of differences, eradicating discrimination, and fostering inclusiveness. Additionally, managers in both cases may deal with the challenge of loss in personnel and work productivity because of prejudice and discrimination, complaints and legal acts against the organization (McNeil, 2008).
In today’s economy, searching and retaining the best workforce is crucial for businesses to thrive. Regular and voluntary staff turnover has a negative impact on an individual drive, productivity, and organization’s revenue. Hiring and training a new workforce requires money and time. When employees spend their entire career with one organization, there are several benefits that accrue to that organization. Firstly, the organization is relieved of the cost of recruiting new employee, such as publicizing, interviewing, screening, and recruiting. Secondly, a new staff usually needs to spend a maximum of two years to cover the productivity of an existing employee. Therefore, when an employee does not leave an organization, they save the company from the loss of productivity. Thirdly, the organization can economize on the cost of training, since the existing workforce is already familiarized with the job allowing the organization not to hold frequent training programs.
Nevertheless, whenever a fire and emergency organization continue to have the saame workforce over the time, this may pose certain challenges concerning the growth of the organization. The reason to this is that low staff turnover may be caused by employees being afraid to change, which leads to an organization having slow growth rate. Moreover, this fosters groups among the old employees that develop an insecure atmosphere for the new employees. Besides, retaining a workforce that is not delivering inhibits productivity and creativity of employees who are knowledgeable (Thiel & Jennings, 2012).
In my opinion, fire and emergency service organizations should not encourage stagnation of careers among firefighters. The reason to this is to promote technological growth in the organization by encouraging career growth regarding education advancement. Furthermore, outside sourcing of new employees will enable the organization to access new and different ideas which in its turn leads to improved productivity and company’s revenue.
The greatest asset for a fire and emergency department is not equipment, stations nor apparatus, but rather the workforce. It is through the workforce that the fire organization accomplishes their missions, serves the public, and can make a difference in their societies. Firefighting job differs from other physically demanding jobs. The job of a firefighter is recognized universally as the one which needs an above average level of fitness and strength. The exclusive environment and high demands of this job require both the fire managers and the frontline firefighters to achieve the same level of fitness. The reason to this is that the frontline employees can learn from their superiors. A physically fit fire manager will be able to emphasize the importance of physical fitness to his subordinates effectively, since he is evidently able to walk the talk. At all levels of the organization, the management can encourage physical fitness among people by conducting medical evaluations before hiring, and outlining the benefits of physical fitness and risks that results from lack of physical fitness (Fleming, 2009).
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