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USFS looking to diversify firefighting ranks

by Webmaster |

The U.S. Forest Service is trying to diversify its California firefighting ranks by recruiting job applicants from areas with ethnic populations.

Today, 80 percent of the service's firefighters are white, most hailing from communities near mountains or national forests.

The service now will look more toward cities, and has job fairs planned for Saturday in Sacramento, Fresno and Arcadia, near Los Angeles.

Part of the switch is to meet requirements of a 2002 settlement with Hispanic employees who alleged they were discriminated against by the service's hiring practices, said spokesman Matt Mathes. The service's permanent employees are 9.8 percent Hispanic, compared with about 35 percent for the state's population.

The service is looking to fill 300 to 500 permanent part-time jobs. The spots, which pays $8 to $10 an hour, include work on fire engines, hotshot crews, smokejumper crews, helicopter-based hand crews, or regular hand crews.