New program ‘removes barriers’ to firefighting careers

Black, Indigenous and racialized Markham students who want to build a firefighting career can benefit from a new agreement between Markham Fire and Emergency Services (MFES) and Humber College that includes scholarships.

“MFES has gradually worked to build a service with one of the highest percentages of racialized and female firefighters in Ontario. We are now taking the next step,” says City of Markham CAO Andy Taylor. “Together with Humber College, we will be able to extend our efforts and reduce participation barriers for racialized communities so they can succeed with MFES and in their careers as firefighters.”

As part of the agreement, Humber College will offer eight scholarships – two each for four school terms – for students to take a two-year Fire Services diploma followed by a one-year Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training program. MFES will provide students with equipment and will pay for their DZ vehicle licence and Ontario Fire Administration Inc. certification.

During the school term, each scholarship recipient will be paired with a MFES staff member who will provide mentorship. Each student will be offered summer employment in the administration office to learn other areas of the fire service and to build relationships.

Scholarship students who successfully complete their studies and certification will be offered a job interview with MFES. Successful candidates will be offered employment as a Markham firefighter.

“MFES is taking the next bold step to increase diversity in our ranks,” says Fire Chief Adam Grant. “This one-of-a-kind program seeks to provide access and opportunity to Black, Indigenous and racialized candidates and remove some of the barriers that have impeded progress in this area.

“We are very proud to be working with Humber College and hope that this innovative and progressive program will motivate other businesses and organizations to take similar steps to increase representation in the workplace.”

MFES selected the first two scholarship recipients for the September 2021 intake. The next intake for the 2022 to 2023 school year will be made in February 2022, with more information to follow at markham.ca/fire.

To mark the launch of the agreement, MFES is donating a firetruck and equipment that are at the end of their lives to Humber’s Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training program.

City of Markham and Humber College officials, students and community members at the official announcement of the scholarship and career development initiative. Photo courtesy of the City of Markham.

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