Montreal hopes to attract more visible minorities to firefighting
The City of Montreal is ramping up efforts to diversify its firefighting troupe.
Currently, visible minorities make up less than two percent of firefighters in the city.
Administrators are trying to change that by holding public clinics for people aspiring to join the force.
"It's important that the people who are providing the services for our city reflect the population of our city," said David Shelton of the Montreal Fire Department.
On Sunday, prospective firefighters were put through the paces.
"I've wanted to be a firefighter since I was 15," said David Celean.
"Firefighting is my life. It means everything to me. I would do anything to become a firefighter."
Obeng Tabi also wants to follow in his cousin's to join the profession.
"He taught me a lot of stuff that firefighters do," he said. "I like the physical work. I like to sweat. I like to run."
Having more diversity in the fire department has the potential to save lives.
"I was just talking to a firefighter who said he had an occasion to speak Creole while dealing with an emergency," said Alex Norris, chairman of the Public Security Commission in Montreal. "It won him immediate trust from the family involved, and he was able to get information from people who didn't speak good English."