Wu, Boston Fire Department Celebrate Inaugural Boston Fire Cadet Class

Mayor Michelle Wu last week announced members of the Boston Fire Department’s inaugural Boston Fire Cadet class. From 10 neighborhoods and communities, the first class of cadets represents Mayor Wu’s commitment to growing a workforce that represents the neighborhoods and communities the City serves. Modeled after the Boston Police Cadet Program, fire cadets hold paid, benefitted, civilian positions within the Boston Fire Department (BFD), receiving cooperative education with classroom and on-the-job training; exposure to firefighting tools and apparatuses; EMS, CPR, and Firefighter I trainings; and mentorship opportunities across the department. The inaugural class totals 32 individuals. Sixty-nine percent of the class comes from underrepresented communities – nine women and 17 people of color. The Cadet Program launched with three weeks of pre-academy training, which started April 24.

“The new Fire Cadet Program will provide opportunities for young people from our communities to learn the skills, values, and work ethic needed to succeed in the fire service,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “This important pathway connecting our communities to jobs with the best fire department in the country has been a long time coming, and I’m grateful to Commissioner Burke and our team for making this a priority. We’ve seen tremendous success with the Boston Police Department’s cadet program over several years. By investing in the next generation of firefighters, we are building a more representative fire department and creating a safer and stronger Boston for all.”

“It is an honor to welcome the first ever Fire Cadets to the Boston Fire Department,” said Fire Commissioner Paul Burke. “Their skill sets and backgrounds represent every neighborhood in the City of Boston. We look forward to turning this diverse group of women and men into Boston Firefighters. Thank you, Mayor Wu, for your hard work and persistence in making this program a reality.”

The current state-mandated civil service requirements give preference to populations already overrepresented within BFD regardless of Civil Service Exam scores. The cadet program is designed to expand opportunities for underrepresented populations to join the yearly Firefighter Academy class. Following completion of the two-year cadet program, graduates may be eligible for admission into the Boston Fire Academy, a requirement to become a sworn member of the Boston Fire Department. The program is key to ensuring the firefighter rank becomes more representative of the City’s demographics. Currently, 1.2 percent of Boston firefighters identify as women and 26.8 percent identify as people of color. The City’s population between the ages of 18-34 is 51.8 percent women and 50.6 percent people of color.

“We have worked long and hard over the years for the Cadet Program,” said Alector Tavares, President of the Boston Vulcans. “We are excited to see this dream come to fruition. The inaugural class has a tremendous representation from all over the City; we are committed to partnering with the Fire Department for outreach and strategic initiatives with the goal of reaching more candidates from underrepresented communities.”

Applicants must be ages 18 to 25, hold a high school diploma or equivalent certificate, currently reside in the City of Boston and have maintained residency for the last three years, and possess a valid Massachusetts Drivers License with a good driving record. Cadets were selected following a thorough and rigorous interview process, including a phone screen and traditional job interview; a fitness evaluation; a background check, with the cadets selected and approved by Commissioner Paul Burke.

The Fire Cadet Program was created following passage of a home rule petition sponsored by State Representative Chynah Tyler.

“I am so glad to have stood on the front lines to ensure that this opportunity is actually obtainable for those who traditionally have a challenging pathway becoming a firefighter here in Boston just for being who they are – oftentimes that is Black, Latino and people of color,” said State Representative Chynah Tyler. “I look forward to working with the City to continue to remove these barriers through the awareness, strength, and conditioning that the cadet program will provide.”

“This is a great opportunity for our young people, especially young women and people of color, to receive firefighting and EMS training and mentorship, which will help them succeed and better serve our communities in the future,” said Council President Ed Flynn. “The development of this cadet program is critical to ensuring that Boston will have a steady stream of trained young people who reflect the communities that they serve to continue this important work of public safety in our City.”

The following individuals are members of the first Boston Fire Cadet Program.

• John Adduci, Charlestown

• Myer Rijo-Segal, Charlestown

“I want to be a firefighter because I have always been passionate about saving lives. I’ve seen first hand the heroic work Boston Fire and surrounding departments do for my community,” said Cadet Destiny Santiago of East Boston. “I have also seen the limited path for Hispanic women in this field and believe this could take me on the proper path I need and give me the guidance to be a role model in my community and lead the way for women and the Hispanic community. Growing up there were always limited opportunities for me living in a housing development. I believe this Cadet program is the first step to a better future and will provide the guidance to jump start my career and passion.”

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