Denver Fire Department: Does It Have a Diversity Problem?

Sam Levin, Westword (Denver), October 23, 2012

Out of 32 assistant chiefs currently working in the Denver Fire Department, one is black, four are Hispanic and there are no females. Of 62 captains below them, six are black, and three of those are eligible to retire in coming years. The consequence of these numbers according to some members? As individuals move up in the ranks, the department is on track to have a striking lack of diversity in its top leadership.

One white official has labeled this problem “institutional racism” in an internal letter—though the chief of the department maintains that he and the city are committed to diversity in recruitment and promotions.

The Colorado Black Professional Firefighters, a chapter of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, based in Denver, met last Thursday with the Denver Fire Department’s official recruiter and other employee organizations to discuss ways that the recruitment process can “bolster inclusivity.” The meeting, mentioned to us by Tony Martin, president of the Colorado Black Professional Firefighters, comes on the heels of growing concerns that the department has set itself up for a period lacking in diversity when it comes supervisory slots.

He and others believe that given the current demographics of captains and assistant chiefs, the top positions will be filled primarily by white males for many years to come—a problem that to some seems unavoidable at present.


Out of roughly 900 members in the department, 52 are black, according to a DFD spokesman, who confirms the accuracy of more specific breakdowns provided to us by Martin. Below Eric Tade, the chief of the department, who is white, there are six division chiefs—two who are Hispanic males, one female and three white males. Below that group are the 32 all-male assistant chiefs, with four Hispanics and one African American. And below that are the 62 captains, of which only six are black.

From 2002 to 2006, only 1 percent of candidates hired by the department were African American and 13.7 percent were Hispanic, according to the DFD. From 2007 to 2012, 10.9 percent hired were African American and 21.2 percent Hispanic. The improvements in recent years, department officials say, come from 2006 recommendations from a diversity task force. Hiring is officially conducted by the city’s Civil Service Commission.


This issue was first brought to our attention by a letter from Rex King, a white assistant chief within the department, who wrote about his concerns with the growing problem of “institutional racism.” Through an Open Records request, the city recently sent us the 2009 letter from King to the chief and deputy chief of the department at the time. The complete letter is on view below, but here’s an excerpt:

The Department is in the midst of crisis which will require immediate attention by the current administration. As you are very aware, nine and perhaps more Assistant Chiefs will be retiring in the next eighteen months. Included in this demographic group are: seventy-five percent of the African American chiefs on the job and twenty percent of the Hispanic chiefs. These chiefs will be replaced by one hundred percent Caucasians; chiefs who will be in place for the next two decades. The Assistant Chiefs being replaced make up thirty percent of Assistant Chief’s rank.

Denver’s Civil Service Commission and Fire Department are not engaging in unfair practices. However, the unattended consequence of the current situation is institutional racism. In the last Department-wide management training, command officers were instructed: “if it is predictable it is preventable.” As a Department and City, we don’t even have to predict the results of inaction; we already know the outcome. {snip}


Martin argues that the recruitment process and associated exams are in need of serious reform and have contributed to the lack of diversity in the department.

“We need to start looking at a whole candidate and not just . . . an arbitrary score,” Martin tells us. “It’s having an adverse impact and it’s discriminatory.”

He argues that the exams and process of recruiting in general have favored non-minority hirings and promotions.

The fire department disputes allegations that recruitment has been discriminatory. In an e-mail to us, Chief Tade writes:

The exam process is conducted by the Civil Service Commission who ensures the exam process has no adverse impact. The current hiring test not only tests for educational abilities, but also emotional outlook and interpersonal skills. The exam process is always being evaluated and modified when improvement areas are identified. We have spent the last year meeting with employee groups, Civil Service, the Manager of Safety, and recruiters to enhance the recruitment process and limit barriers to entry onto the Department with an overall goal of increasing minority representation within the Department.


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  • Puggg

    Ironically, the following web banner ad is appearing on the right side of this story as I’m reading it.

    That’s where this whole issue is leading, according to Steve Sailer’s outlook:  In true Driggs vs Guke Power style, they’ll do away with hiring and promotion tests for fire departments and use education as a proxy.  The University of Maryland seems to be getting in on the ground floor of that trend.

  • RJS

    One would think there has to be a lot of racial tension on police and firemen forces where non-whites are hired at the expense of more qualified whites.

    Then these unqualified non-whites show off their lack of ability and competence in front of whites who were hired on merit.

    The iron curtain of political correctness would never allow a study showing how many people may have died or been more seriously injured because of incompetent firemen and paramedics.

    At this rate, in another 20 years, our major cities will have firemen like what they have in Haiti or the Dominican Republic.

    What a disaster.

  • JohnEngelman

    Martin argues that the recruitment process and associated exams are in need of serious reform and have contributed to the lack of diversity in the department.

    “We need to start looking at a whole candidate and not just . . . an arbitrary score,” Martin tells us. “It’s having an adverse impact and it’s discriminatory.”

    He argues that the exams and process of recruiting in general have favored non-minority hirings and promotions.
    – Sam Levin, Westword (Denver), October 23, 2012       
    I am confident that Orientals and Jews tend to score better than majority white Gentiles. The only legitimate purpose of an entrance exam is to select the best possible candidates.

    • humptydumpty

      JohnEnglemen, Sir, the firemen’s test is a combination of mental, physical, and emotional exams. I assure you sir that rarely do orientals ond jews possess these combinations to outdo most White men.

      • JohnEngelman

        On average, Orientals are slower to mature, less fertile, less sexually active, 
        less aggressive, and have larger brains and higher IQ scores. Blacks are at the 
        other pole. Whites fall in the middle, but closer to Orientals than to Blacks…
        Compared to Whites, Blacks have narrower hips which gives them a more efficient stride. They have a shorter sitting height which provides a higher center of gravity and a better balance. They have wider shoulders, less body fat, and more muscle. Their muscles include more fast twitch muscles which produce power. Blacks have from 3 to 19% more of the sex hormone testosterone than Whites or East Asians. The testosterone translates into more explosive energy…
        these physical advantages give Blacks the edge in sports like boxing, basketball, football, and sprinting. 
        – Professor J. Philippe Rushton, from “RACE, EVOLUTION,  AND BEHAVIOR” 
        On the average Orientals are mentally superior to whites, and blacks are physically superior. Because fire fighters and police officers need to be powerful and intelligent a rational selection process with weigh both advantages. 

        • humptydumpty

          Sir, It’s interesting how you ignored what I said. I only responded to what you said about orientals and jews and now you’ve brought blacks into it. But i’ll bight. The blacks are the same as the Jews and Orientals. They don’t possess the needed combinations of physical, mental, and emotional abilities to compare with Whites on most levels. As far as blacks are concerned, I was never impressed with them physically (especially in the area of endurance) for the most part and both my professions as an a dult called for the utmost physical ability. You should get your head out of books and get a real close look at these other groups.

          • JohnEngelman

            You are making assertions without substantiating them. I quoted Professor J. Philippe Rushton, who spoke at six American Renaissance Conferences. 
            There is so much evidence that blacks are on the average physically superior to whites, and that Orientals are on the average mentally superior, that it hardly requires to be documented. All you need to do is remember blacks in gym class and Orientals in math class when you were in high school.  

          • humptydumpty

            Sir, you don’t seem to understand what I’m saying. Both those groups you mention, don’t have the “combinations” of abilities that White men generally have. Also, Sir, like I said, I was never impressed with blacks physically speaking either and I worked in two areas of all out physical effort. They just don’t endure well. Also about blacks, even if what you say were true about their physical ability (which i don’t agree with), that doesn’t mean they WILL do the things you say they’re capapble of. Why do you think those planters in the ante-bellum South were whipping them, because they were good workers? No, it’s because they were bad workers and malingerers. 

        • Annis Isbell

           How do you get away with talking about blacks, jews and “Orientals”?  I made a comment about jews and it got deleted.  I made a comment about Jared and Matthew not being able to hold a debate because black college students acted like third graders and the comment was removed?  I’m confused about what is allowed and not allowed.  What did I say???

          • JohnEngelman

            Maybe you neglected to capitalize “Jews.”
            More probably you said nasty things about them. 

    • gemjunior

      “I am confident that Orientals and Jews tend to score better than majority white Gentiles. The only legitimate purpose of an entrance exam is to select the best possible candidates”.

      No, firefighting is a white man’s occupation on the whole.  They are the best candidates.  Most are well over 6 feet and 175 -250 lbs.  Orientals aren’t busting down the doors to apply for the job of firefighter.  Even if they are smart, there is the physical component.  Many of them are small and slight – just the hose alone weighs a ton, is hard to carry with O2 tanks on your back let alone run up flights of stairs with them.  Most blacks are also far more interested in transit and they seem to dominate bus driving, and working all over the subways.  Whites are about as rare on transit as blacks are on the FD – no one is declaring a state of emergency because transit is black as the ace of spades without enough whites.  Imagine that.  Jews don’t usually do city jobs or civil service jobs although there are some on these jobs.  There are some people who consider them a separate race but the ones that do take city jobs are usually very down to earth and indistinguishable from other whites.  They haven’t read the talmud and see themselves very much like any white.  They are rare in general since most Jews have been socialized toward very high income jobs.

      FDNY is overwhelmingly European.  It’s the challenge aspect as well – like many whites the men on the FD are as confident about going into a burning building as other white men are jumping out of planes for fun or climbing up the side of a cliff.

      • newscomments70

         ” Orientals aren’t busting down the doors to apply for the job of firefighter.  Even if they are smart, there is the physical component.  Many of them are small and slight – just the hose alone weighs a ton, is hard to carry with O2 tanks on ”
        Most “Orientals” are on par with whites if they were born in the U.S. Proper diet, dairy products, and red meat make them tall and strong. Not all Asians look like the nerd on “16 Candles”. In Orange County, CA, there are a number of Asians in the local FD’s. Most are close to or more than 6 feet. 

        Also, fire fighters do not carry O2 tanks. If they did, they would either asphyxiate or explode. They use SCBA systems. That is compressed air, similar to SCUBA, but with full face respirators. Also, hoses do not weigh a ton.  Two men often man one hose or one man with a spanner belt. 

        Affirmative action infuriates me as well. It has been ruining our fire departments for years..but get your facts and stereotypes correct. You obviously don’t know what’s going on in that area. You’re just ranting using preconceived stereotypes.

  • Jeremy Johnson

    ‘Diversity’ is just an excuse to make Whites, and especially White men, second class citizens in the country that their ancestors built.  Hiring unqualified minorities over qualified Whites will accelerate the rate of pace towards third world status.  We should focus on quality, not diversity.

    • Obviously whites would no longer be unfairly harmed with the removal of affirmative action.  But a decent case can be made that most blacks themselves would be better off living in a meritocracy, because it improves the quality of society for everyone and because the majority of blacks do not engage in activities where affirmative action would give them a substantive benefit.  True, affirmative action makes it easier for blacks to get into Ivy League schools, but 98% of blacks don’t apply to them anyway–so no benefit for those–but they all suffer due to a decayed society because we’re no longer based on merit.  Getting rid of AA is a two-step process: one we have to ban it for non-U.S. citizens and then two, we have to believe that even American minorities are better off living in a meritocracy, and once we truly believe it ourselves, then we can more strongly argue it to them.

  • The only thing that is in serious need of reform is the politically correct notions in government today. It would amaze me when City fathers would berate City agencies for not contracting out enough money to minority-owned (codeword: black-owned) businesses and women-owned businesses. Let’s say the contract was for construction and they wanted 25% women/minority  participation. They never once did a study to see if there that many businesses out there that could actually do the job. It was just like the Soviet Union with arbitrary quotas. And of course if the quota was achieved, the reward was to up the quota for next time. In this case because the minorities can’t pass the test they automatically assume it’s institutional racism.

  • Ulick

    Blacks in Denver can’t pass a test and it’s allegedly a definitive sign of racism that should get national recognition.  Meanwhile, the following has been going on for years in Dnver and gets absolutely no national press.  The American media is disgusting…

    Black gangs roaming downtown Denver often vented their hatred for white victims before assaulting and robbing them during a four-month crime wave, according to interviews and court records obtained by 7NEWS.

    “I hate you f—ing white people,” said a black woman in a large group of black men, according to the victim who was beaten up as he and three buddies left a LoDo bar after midnight on Aug. 30.

    “F—- you, white boys,” the woman added, according to the 25-year-old Westminster victim, who spoke to 7NEWS Friday.

    “Why do you hate white people?” the man recalled asking. “That’s when I got hit. They beat the crap out of me,” he added, saying that 15 to 20 men beat him to the ground.

    “They just swarmed you,” said the man who curled up on the ground to shield his face. “You basically just had to protect yourself and hope they didn’t kill you.”

    The victim, who suffered bruised ribs and a cut head, said he was protected by a padded motorcycle jacket. He asked that his name be withheld for his safety.

    A couple dozen arrest warrant affidavits unsealed Friday offer chilling insights into the 26 racially-motivated “blitz attacks,” which stretched from July 17 to Nov. 17.

    One unidentified suspect told police “that the members of his gang earn status in the gang by beating up ‘white dudes,'” according to court records. He added that the gangs targeted “drunk white guys,” exiting bars and nightclubs in the entertainment district.

  • Michael C. Scott

    This imaginary “problem” would be solved pretty easily if Denver had two fire departments.  The second fire department would be allowed to hire only low-IQ blacks and Mestizos and would be responsible for putting out all fires on property owned by blacks and Mestizos.

    This Martin character doesn’t seem to understand why we have fire departments.

  • Black people resemble the swarms of the “Walking Dead” zombies more and more each day.

  • Tom_in_Miami

    This stereotyping’s got to stop.  I went to the library Saturday night and had to run out the Asians and Whites so they’d have the right number of Blacks mixed in.  The place ended up empty.

  • I hope a white liberal, when his house is burning down and the diverse fire crew can’t remember how to turn the hose on, will get to see the progress he has created with racial diversity.

  • Mercerian Jed

    The tolerance of White Humanity to suffer discrimination and misery so that Diversity can get more preferences and privileges is endless and remains the deepest mystery of all history.

    We simply cannot or will not shake off this yoke of suffering that our elites keep strapped to our necks.

    Each of us deserves a Human Rights and Social Justice Achievement Award for how mush pain we can take without exploding in anger and violence.

  • Mercerian Jed

    Diversity Problem = a black saw “too many Whites” hard at work.

  • quote: “We need to start looking at a whole candidate and not just . . . an arbitrary score,” Martin tells us. “It’s having an adverse impact and it’s discriminatory.”

    I liked his usage of the word “arbitrary”–as if it’s random.  No, it’s not an arbitrary score, rather it’s an earned score indicating one’s aptitude.

  • Puggg

    Actually it’s the other way around. There will always be some fly by night for-profit college or some HBCU that will graduate them no matter what. Even mainstream colleges will pass them along without expecting any real work of them.

    Any time testing is replaced with education, it’s always a sop to affirmative action.

  • APaige

    “arbitrary score”? What…passing? So a student that studies and gets an arbitrary grade? Black people have been so brainwashed that they actually believe that scores are arbitrary and have nothing to do with studying, working hard, etc. That think that the test is the problem.

  • RisingReich

    Denver already has a black mayor and black police chief.  I guess now it’s time to brown out the fire department, too.

  • Detroit_WASP

    The NBA has a diversity problem.  Wonder why there’s not story about that?

  • Puggg

    If the exam is g-loaded to any extent, then the path of least resistance for blacks will be college.

  • newscomments70

    I own my own business and sell to the government. As a white male, I am on the lowest rung of totem pole. Minority owned businesses are first in line for government contracts because of AA. Black owned businesses sometimes have to buy from me and then re- sell to the government. At first, that worked quite well for me.  I could sell to well-behaved blacks at full price and demand payment in advance. Usually the business owners were black women. The blacks could mark it up  and expect prompt payment from the government.  Selling directly to the government, I would have to heavily discount everything and beg to be paid. Selling to black middle-women was actually more profitable then dealing with the government directly.  

    Now Indians (from India) are getting in on the deal. They qualify as “minority owned” and are sent to the head of the line, on par with the blacks. They are not even from this country, but they have special privileges.  The deal is over now. The Indians demand that I sell everything to them at almost zero profit, and they resell to the government at almost zero profit. This business practice is growing like a cancer and destroying industry. At almost-zero profit, you have to pay your employees close to nothing, offer limited services, and have no money for expansion. That is similar to a communist economy. 

    Giving non-white immigrants generous special priviledges over whites is insane. Now even blacks are being crowded out. The priviledges are being diluted by those abusing the system even more. The government is spending twice as much money, because of subsidies and unqualified people  being propped up by the system. Affirmative action must be stopped. 

    We should all make it a weekend chore to write to our congressmen about these issues. (as well as others!). Go to the website: Numbers USA for congressmens’ contact information. I write to all Republican congressmen with suggestions and reasonable complaints. Keep your comments low-key and civil. If you sound even remotely like a white supremacist, they will not listen. There are PC ways of wording your comment and still get the message across. You might make some headway with Democratic congressmen as well. Most are like talking to a waste basket full of vomit, but moderate democrats do exist. 

  • Peoplearediverse

    Sam LEVIN

  • Up to my neck in CA

    “Denver Diversity Department: Does It Have a Fire Problem?”
    It will once these unqualified “firefighters” are hired.