An African-American ex-fire recruit in the Rochester, NY Fire Department says he faced discrimination and racism from fellow recruits.
The man, who describes the City of Rochester as a "Good Ole Boys Club", asked me not to publish his name for fear fear of retaliation by City of Rochester officials against his wife, who works for the city.
Below, in his own words, is the email he sent me.
"I wanted to become a firefighter every since the fire department in my hometown rescued my family when I was 5 years old. When I moved here to Rochester at the age of 18, I quickly realized that the fire department didn't really hire minorities. Years down the road I was able to settle for a volunteer firefighter position which was an amazing opportunity for 5 years. Then Lovely Warren stepped into office. I finally had the opportunity to get a paid job as a firefighter, a life long dream.
It took almost 3 years after the exam to get hired, so I kept my nose clean so that when the day came I would hopefully get hired, and I did. On January 5, 2015 I entered the Academy. The academy was a great experience, but I quickly realized that we had a problem. The recruit class didn't work as a team and there were clicks. Many of the white recruits had an edge on the minority recruits. They came in with EMS certification and experience. These recruits really excelled in the class, but a lot of others struggled, because it was the first time they ever took any type of medical course. The minority recruits were constantly under threat of loosing there job, because they were failing tests.
Then the clicks formed. The white recruits who were doing really well, because most of them were already certified EMT'S made fun of the minority group that struggled. There was even rumors outside of the academy that all the minorities were dumb and lazy. There was one black recruit who struggled with the test and physically.
The white recruits really gave this guy a hard time and made fun of him. He told me that they wouldn't even speak to him, and I also witnessed this on many occasions and couldn't believe it. After exercises every morning we took a test. These test were computer tests which generated a score immediately after you finished.
Once we all finished we would returned to class and the white clicks would run around the class to see how the minority group of recruits did on the test, so they could feel superior. At the end of each week they had what they called a DOR. A DOR was a progress report of the how you were doing overall in the class and with the exercises.
Every minority I would talk to afterwards always came out feeling discouraged and put down. They were told things like, why are you here, or you don't even look like a firefighter, you should just resign.
Although it was a struggle, these guys fought with everything they had, but soon they started getting the boot.
There were 8 minorities altogether, 5 blacks, 2 Hispanics, and 1 native American. Two of these recruits destroyed their own careers and only 1 graduated. Although we all struggled with EMS we all passed the state test and became EMT'S.
The EMS instructors were the best. These guys were there for all of us and they got us through the EMS portion with flying colors. They were always approachable and would even stay late to help you if you needed it, which I myself took advantage of many times.
The fire portion is where the problems really got out of hand. I understood that this portion would be tough as it should, but this is were true colors came out. The previous EMS instructors were now gone, we now had new instructors . These guys I knew would be tough, which they should be, but that wasn't the problem.
They began forcing all of the minority recruits to resign when they got injured. They had a two step process in doing this. Myself for example I got injured, but I was good to go. I was only reporting my injuries in case things got worse, but each time they sent me to see my doctor then their doctor at OEM.
This went on each time I reported anything. I even told them I can wait until my days off to deal with it, but they would take you out anyway. This is how they made you loose valuable training time, so eventually they can force you to resign. There was only one injury where i needed to see a doctor during training. All the other things were petty, and it counted against me. This is how they got rid of all of the remaining minorities.
In my case i was cleared by my doctor, but their doctor gave me a hard time and said I should just resign. We even got into an argument, they got legal with me, saying you just want workman's comp. And she would constantly go back and forth talking to me and calling the fire department as if they were coaching her.
This is were they get you as they did with many other recruit classes in the past. With their doctor you get held up for a week or two as in my case. So now you've lost time, amd then they're justified in forcing you out. They tell you, you can either resign or be terminated.
Either way you're out of here. But if we terminate you won't be able to work for the Rochester fire department again. However if you resign you can possibly get reinstated. So obviously everyone resigns, because they're going to fire you anyway.
Why not get another chance? They're supposed to give you make up time or send you to another academy to finish up. But since we were all minorities we had no other choice, but to resign or be fired.
I even went for a hearing which was a joke. They talk to you like you're stupid with silly smirks on their face and give you only 10 minutes to talk. The representatives for the RFD even told lies which i wasn't able to defend myself on. But the civil service committee takes their word for it and denies your request before you walk out the door.
I even had someone from the 911 center send a letter about me to affirmative action stating that i was harassing someone at their center. This was falsified information. There were no police reports, neither did anything like this take place.
The head of ECD 911 has it in for my wife so now they were reaching out to me. This report was included with my paperwork with the civil service. Whoever wrote this remained anonymous and the civil service or affirmative action would not reveal who. My reinstatement request was denied, because the RDF lied and the 911 center played their part in it and they don't even know me. Now all of my phone calls or request to speak with the Mayor are ignored.
It's been once again swept under the rug. The City of Rochester remains a good ole boys club and the Mayor, civil service, and any other governmental body does nothing about it.
My advice to any minority taking the test is don't.
They only want your money for the exam fee.
And if you get hired they will find a way to make sure you don't make it."
Rochester, NY Mayor Lovely Warren
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