The Emergency Responder Safety Institute Releases Protecting Emergency Responders on the Roadway: Equity and Outreach

With funding support from the United States Fire Administration, the Emergency Responder Safety Institute (ERSI) has released a new report, Protecting Emergency Responders on the Roadway: Equity and Outreach. The report identifies concepts and tools to help fire service leaders create a robust diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plan to attract TIM personnel to their organization, ensure underrepresented populations are empowered to serve, and retain diverse personnel. Examples of organizations who are actively employing effective DEI tools and techniques are highlighted. The report is available on

“We canvassed the emergency response community to find out what is working in creating a department that looks like the public it serves,” said Dave Lewis for the ERSI. “The best practices we identified range from the very practical, for example offering uniforms and PPE in a wide size range, to overarching department policies like establishing a formal mentoring program, to recruitment techniques that reach underrepresented communities. We think every organization will find something in this report that will ring a bell for them as something they can run with to make their organization one that seeks, welcomes, hears, and supports members from all parts of their community.” Ten project activities, including interviews, a focus group, and a literature review, engaged national law enforcement, fire service trade organizations, and individual subject matter experts in DEI to discuss TIM and public safety operations. Synthesized from input via these activities, the report identifies 23 best practices in four threads:

  • Recruiting a Diverse Fire Service Workforce
  • DEI Policies and Standard Operating Guidelines
  • DEI Training and Mentoring
  • Practical Matters such as Personal Protective Equipment and Facilities

Each thread offers dozens of suggestions for how to implement each best practice. Examples of these suggestions include: creating a DEI committee and plan, connecting with community groups who draw from traditionally underrepresented populations, implementing pregnancy and parental leave policies, offering diversity training to all internal stakeholders, using inclusive imagery and gender-neutral language in outreach materials, developing introductory programs to remove barriers and promote non-suppression roles in the fire service (like traffic incident management), and offering a “family orientation” and “family ambassador program” for new members. Organizations can choose which best practices and suggestions to implement based on what best fits their department and community opportunities, creating a customized DEI plan from the report.

The report findings and examples of recruitment and retention materials for DEI efforts are available on

The United States Fire Administration funded this research and report.

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