Culture shock in Richmond

Report urges B.C. city’s fire department to change its old-boy, paramilitary ways
By Shannon Klie
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/06/2006

Fire departments rely on a paramilitary culture and chain of command to provide effective emergency response. But such a culture can often lead to problems.

An independent report commissioned by city council in Richmond, B.C., found the city’s fire department has a culture with “narrowly defined norms and little tolerance for conduct, attitudes or perspectives outside these norms.”

City council commissioned the external review of Richmond Fire-Rescue, including its hiring practices and harassment policies for its 200 firefighters, in April in response to public outcry after Richmond’s four female firefighters took leave from the department citing widespread sexual harassment.