ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
What is the Virginia Fire Equity and Diversity Conference?
In the 1980’s the Virginia Department of Fire Programs hosted and co-hosted three EEO Symposiums that increased the awareness of cultural diversity, improved human relations, and fostered equal opportunity and affirmative actions. As a result of these symposiums, they realized there was a serious need for more education and training throughout this field in the Commonwealth. Therefore, in April 1991 the Virginia Fire Services Board in conjunction with the Department of Fire Programs, created a standard council (EEO/AA) comprised of Fire Service EEO Advisers who were strongly committed to accomplishing the following goals:
Advise the Virginia Fire Services Board on all matters affecting the nation’s fire and emergency services, especially those in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
To develop, coordinate, maintain the statewide training curricula in subjects affecting equal employment opportunity, cultural diversity, and all laws and regulations in local, state, and federal government that affect the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Provide planning assistance to the host locality for the EEO/AA Symposiums.
The symposiums became a success with support from the Fire Chiefs around the state of Virginia. As a result, a list of fire departments was established to host an annual conference, which proved how beneficial it was in providing education and training needed. Now Fire Chiefs across the state of Virginia work together to support the educational conferences. The name was eventually turned into the Virginia Fire and Emergency Services Equity and Diversity Association. The Association was able to partner with Fire Programs for their support and to provide assistance to the host locality for a meaningful and successful conference.
Today, more than ever, this education is desperately needed based on all the inequities that still exist in the workplace. We still hear about and read in the news that employers still are making hiring decisions based on an applicant’s color, race, religion, sex, or national origin. It is not uncommon to hear about an employer engaging in discrimination practices when recruiting job candidates, advertising for a job or applicant testing. We have been learning more and more about Equity and Diversity for 39 years as the workforce continues to evolve with new generations of personnel.
The Charlottesville Fire Department is proud to host the 2019 Virginia Fire Equity and Diversity Conference. Since 1980, this conference has played a critical role in highlighting the importance of equity and inclusion in Virginia’s fire service. I invite you and members of your organizations to attend this outstanding event and to engage with your fire service peers in a meaningful dialogue about race and equity.
Chief Andrew Baxter