Scathing review prompts Boston mayor to seek female fire cadet program

The review was ordered after several women in the department complained of a discriminatory culture toward female firefighters


By Brooks Sutherland
Boston Herald

BOSTON — Mayor Martin J. Walsh is seeking to create a Cadet Program within the fire department aimed at recruiting more women in response to a scathing review authorized by the city that found the department’s culture to be male-dominated and unwelcoming toward women.

“The fact that women are not present should not be allowed to excuse behavior that is not professional and appropriate,” the 148-page report submitted by Kay H. Hodge, Joan L. Stein and Katherine D. Clark read.

The review, first reported by The Boston Globe, was ordered after several women in the department complained of a discriminatory culture toward female firefighters. In total, there are 16 women in the department that has 1,500 members.

“Some women said that and some women didn’t say that,” Walsh said about the review’s claim that the department was unwelcoming for women. “Ultimately, I think it comes down to really creating more opportunities. When you think of a fire department that has 1,500 firefighters and 16 women, that makes it really difficult, challenging. I don’t care what environment you live in or work in, that’s a big number, that’s a big difference.”

According to the review, the fire department has been reviewed three times over the last 19 years in relation to its culture.

“There is nothing more important to me than the health, safety and well-being of Boston’s firefighters,” Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn said in a statement. “This report makes clear that we have more work to do, and now more than ever I am committed to driving this needed change of embracing a culture of inclusion that will reach every corner of every firehouse.”

The review also gave recommendations to the City and in particular, the fire department, which Walsh said he’s committing to implementing.

“It is our hope that the Commissioner’s demonstrated commitment and leadership skills with the support and confidence that he has among the workforce will successfully address the issues raised and achieve the goals of the recommendations made — in this third investigation/review in 19 years — eliminating the need for further investigation in the future,” the report reads.

Walsh’s proposal would need state approval.

Copyright 2019 Boston Herald

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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