FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — With bravery, strength and commitment to their community, 24 Fort Worth Fire Department recruits walked to a crowd of proud family and friends and left as new firefighters
They have just made history as the most diverse class of firefighters in the Fort Worth Fire Department’s 129-year history; 71% of the class are minorities. Five are military veterans and five women also graduated. The five women are mothers.
“It’s been tough, it’s been tough but it was worth it,” said Tamesha Wharton, one of the department’s newest firefighters.
Wharton sacrificed a lot to achieve this goal. Her daughter lived in Memphis while she completed her training in Fort Worth.
“To be honest, that means everything to me,” Wharton said. “I think it just shows him that we can do whatever we think.”
As Fort Worth diversifies, Chief Jim Davis has worked to ensure the department reflects the diversity of the community it serves. Since 2018, there has been a 66% increase in the hiring of African American firefighters, a 291% increase in female firefighters, and a 46% increase in Hispanic firefighters.
“It’s like a superpower can communicate with the people who call us. They call us on the worst day of their life and a communication barrier can seem like an extra crisis,” said training director Rafael Diamond.
“Being a bilingual Latino, I can communicate with them and understand them so we can give them better service,” said Eduardo Vaca-Amaya, a new firefighter.
A former Austin teacher, he says he became a firefighter to be a role model for his students and his community.
“I wanted to give them hope that no matter where you come from, you can have the discipline, the dedication that you need to be successful,” Vaca-Amaya said.
The Fort Worth Fire Department training academy lasts 36 weeks and this graduating class, Class 92, will be the last class to graduate this year. For more information on the Fort Worth Fire Department, you can check out their website.