• Orlando mayor pushes for more women, diversity when hiring first responders

    By: Cierra Putman

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Mayor Buddy Dyer is leading the push to hire more women and minorities among Orlando's first responders.

    The initiative starts with the Fire Department which has the reputation of being a "boys' club," according to the union.

    The mayor had only vague answers when Channel 9 asked why women would want to work for the department given its recent sexual harassment complaints. 

    Currently, the department lists only 18 women firefighters, who make up 4 percent of the department. A quarter of those 18 filed complaints of mistreatment.

    The fire chief, Rod Williams, resigned in February after the EEOC found merit in a claim of harassment, discrimination and retaliation from a female assistant chief.

    "Orlando Fire Department is one of the best agencies to work in the entire country for women to work at," said Mayor Dyer. "In fact, if you look at the new firehouses that we're building, we're building separate quarters for males and females and making it more accommodating." 

    City officials told Channel 9 that some policy and procedural changes have to happen as part of the collective bargaining agreement. 

    While Orlando is struggling with recruitment, Orange County Fire Rescue remains one of the best in the country in recruiting women with 90 firefighters in the county; including two in leadership roles.

    Orlando plans to adopt some of the county's successful tactics, like sponsoring civilian workers and offering prep classes for female recruits. 

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