Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

First Advisor

E. Scott Dunlap

Second Advisor

William D. Hicks

Third Advisor

Barry S. Spurlock


This research studied ten full time fire departments in the United States to develop a quantitative study showing demographic make-up of the fire department rosters and the citizens in which they serve. Affirmative action has been a polarizing issue since the day the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed. Many thoughts and feelings had been researched but no quantitative studies could be found. This study asked three main questions. Are the fire departments being studied meeting the number requirements set forth by the law in relation to equal representation of the community serviced by the department? Are the departments’ policies and programs consistent with affirmative action? If they are deficient, in what ways are the various fire departments lacking? Finally, what are the issues that the fire chiefs identified in the interview that affect affirmative action policy and procedure in their departments? This research showed substantial deficiencies within the departments studied. It was important to address the actual numbers for a baseline on how fire departments have been unable to meet the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and still have a considerable amount of work to do to diversify the fire service. It was shown that concentrated recruitment of candidates was beneficial and that fire departments across the nation need to be more aware of hiring policies and procedures that work to diversify their departments. The fire chiefs generally stated that they felt diversity was good but there were many factors affecting their hiring policies and procedures that were addressed in this research.