Denton ‘s fire department is hiring its first African American recruit in its 140 year history. Delante Bell will join the department next month. The fact that Denton has never had an African American fire recruit may sound surprising, but not to most firefighters.
The City of Denton has worked for years to put more minorities in their fire house. To help with the quest they even hired someone to help. Quinten Brown is African American and has been with the Denton Fire Department for two years.
Brown’s firefighting days and training happened in New Orleans. The Denton Fire Department hired him as a recruiter. Denton , like many fire departments nationwide, has a tradition handed down for generations of white firefighters.
Brown says luring African Americans into the recruiting pool has been a decade’s long struggle. “It’s probably international as well. We really have to be assertive about going out and attracting these very capable individuals who can do the job.”
The Denton Fire Department has made a concerted effort to put African Americans on the fire lines. They not only hired Brown to recruit, but changed hiring procedures to ensure that more people advance from the written exam to the interview process.
“I think every department has a ways to go,” says Denton Fire Department Deputy Chief Mark Klingele. “This is not just a Denton Fire Department problem, it’s an industry problem. Fire departments across the country face the same issues that we do and we’re just one department trying to find our way through this mess.”