Report Finds Evidence Of Racist Acts, But Not Culture, At Fire Department

Report Finds Evidence Of Racist Acts, But Not Culture, At Fire Department

8:48pm Jan 12, 2021
Timika Ingram poses for a picture holding a flyer from when she was a firefighter. A group of Black firefighters in a Winston-Salem filed a grievance last year over racist treatment they endured while employed by the department. (CHRIS CARLSON/AP)

A new report suggests changes in the Winston-Salem Fire Department to address racism and discrimination.

The cultural assessment concluded that the Winston-Salem Fire Department as a whole may not be racist. But the actions of some of its employees have been, both black and white members noted. 

The investigation was conducted after black firefighters detailed racist incidents they had endured while serving. One former firefighter said her colleagues threw her cell phone on the roof of the station and put nails under the wheels of her pickup truck.

Consultants found that the department’s racial makeup does not reflect the city’s diversity. Winston-Salem is about 40 percent minority, while the department is about 25 percent.

More than 100 fire department personnel, as well as city officials and civic leaders, were interviewed for the report.

Nineteen recommendations were made. They include intercultural training for fire department personnel, revisiting the city’s social media policy, and boosting outreach to the city’s diverse population.

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