FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — With bravery, strength and commitment to their community, 24 Fort Worth Fire Department recruits walked out to a crowd of proud family and friends and left as new firefighters
They just made history as the most diverse class of firefighters in Fort Worth Fire Department’s 129-year history; 71% of the class are minorities. Five are military veterans and five women also graduated. All five women are mothers.
“It’s been hard, it’s been hard but it’s been worth it,” said Tamesha Wharton, one of the department’s newest firefighters.
Wharton sacrificed a lot to accomplish this goal. Her daughter lived In Memphis while she completed her training in Fort Worth.
“To be honest, it means everything to me,” said Wharton. “I think it just shows her that we can do anything we put our mind to.”
As Fort Worth becomes more diverse, Chief Jim Davis has focused on making sure the department reflects the diversity of the community they serve. Since 2018 there has been a 66% increase in hiring of African American firefighters, a 291% increase in female firefighters and a 46% increase in Hispanic firefighters.
“It’s like a superpower being able to communicate with the people who call us. They’re calling us on the worst day of their lives and a communication barrier can seem like an additional crisis,” said Chief Training Officer Rafael Diamond.
“Being a bilingual Latino, I can communicate with them and understand them so we can provide better service for them,” said Eduardo Vaca-Amaya, a new firefighter.
A former teacher from Austin, he says he became a firefighter to be a role model for his students and community.
“I wanted to give them that hope that wherever you come from, you can have the discipline, the dedication you want to succeed,” said Vaca-Amaya.
The Fort Worth Fire Department training academy lasts 36 weeks and this graduating class, Class 92, will be the final class to graduate this year. For more information on the Fort Worth Fire Department you can go to their website.