(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) The Democrat legislators of Connecticut are working to reduce physical fitness requirements for female firefighters in attempts to make their firefighting forces more diverse.
The bill, if passed, would allow female firefighter trainees to skip the Candidate Physical Ability Test. The test is a timed examination, enabling candidates to demonstrate their physical aptitude for the strenuous work of firefighting, while wearing a 50-pound vest meant to simulate the gear firefighters carry.
According to Big League Politics, only 10-15% of women pass this test.
The new bill, co-authored by five state-level Democrats, would allow women to take a revised test that would ensure “additional female candidates” can take up positions as firefighters.
Many of Connecticut’s firefighters strongly objected to this bill.
“A citizen in need of rescue doesn’t care if a firefighter is white, black, Hispanic, male, or female,” said Frank Ricci, a retired firefighter who served as the president of the New Haven firefighters union. “They care that they can do the job. This attempt to socially engineer public safety positions will only serve to endanger the public”.
Gear that firefighters carry weighs at least 59 pounds, not including the weight of ladders, hoses, other firemen or victims. According to the Washington Free Beacon, many of the essential tools are not tailored for women, despite the fact that some protective gear now is.
Fire departments across the nation are facing mounting pressure to lower standards for both written and physical examinations, particularly to cater to women.
A lawsuit was levied against the Chicago Fire Department in 2011 over their physical testing, which is more strenuous than the standard Candidate Physical Ability Test used in most states.
The suit argued that the test discriminated against women due to their low passing rate. The department settled and offered jobs to the women who sued.
The Candidate Physical Ability Test, which both the International Association of Firefighters and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission approved, has survived barrages of discrimination lawsuits.
“The idea of the test was to keep politics out of fire service hiring,” said Danny Stratton, a retired New Jersey fire captain. “Now they’re trying to add politics back in.”