Pittsburgh Revamps Firefighter Recruitment to Boost Women and Minority Involvement

The city is working to make firefighter positions more accessible after noticing demographic disparities within the Bureau of Fire.


Pittsburgh is making a conscious effort to boost the recruitment of qualified women and minorities to serve as firefighters within the city. Of the Bureau of Fire’s current roster of 437 firefighters, only five are women and 53 are minorities. 

The city began researching ways to increase diversity in late 2019 when the International Association of Firefighters Local No. 1 met with Mayor Bill Peduto to discuss demographic disparities within the organization. 

The Department of Human Rights and Civil Services then partnered with the National Testing Network in order to develop ways to effectively minimize this gap within the Fire Bureau. 

After almost a year, their findings are ready to be implemented into action. 

“In Pittsburgh, the population consists of 52% women and 28% minorities, yet the number of applications to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire does not currently mirror those numbers. The City is committed to attracting a more diverse workforce to choose a rewarding career with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire. This way we will better understand and communicate with our neighbors, keeping us all safe,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich says in a statement

Some of the methods being implemented to reduce barriers include updating and modernizing the written exam, eliminating weighted scores, transitioning to pass/fail for physical tests and ensuring that the candidate recruitment process is more convenient. The Bureau of Fire plans to increase testing locations and times, as well as prolong the submission process. Applications will also be able to be submitted online. 

“A fire department is stronger when it understands its community and reflects the diversity of the community,” says Ralph Sicuro, President of the Pittsburgh Fire Fights, IAFF Local No. 1. “We will provide a higher level of service to our communities with a diverse organization because different viewpoints are embraced and effective making a healthier, more functional, more innovative and creative department. Understanding leads to safety.”

For more information about the Bureau of Fire and their application process, visit this here

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