More minorities, women, veterans in new fire class
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 10:00

Fort Howard’s James Iman among recruits

 by Ben Boehl

    According to the latest U.S. Census statistics, Baltimore County has a population of 817,455 residents, with a 35 percent minority population, including 28 percent African-American, 5.2 percent Asian and 4.4 percent Hispanic.
    Trumpeting landmark new levels of diversity in the incoming county fire recruit class, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said of the 31 fire recruits for this year, 35 percent are minorities.
    “I am very proud of the progress that we are making in the Fire Department to ensure that our firefighters and Emergency Medical Service personnel reflect the communities they serve,” Kamenetz.

The county executive said is also impressed that the class is 13 percent female and that military veterans comprise 35 percent of the class.
    “It is also gratifying that veterans make up 35 percent of the class. Our entire county is a better place when our workforce is representative of the community it serves,” Kamenetz added.
    “We are making real progress, and I am committed to continuing our efforts.”
    The percentage of minority fire cadets still trails the rate among police cadets.     
    According to the Baltimore County Police Department, of the 25 recruits in July 2012 around 48 percent were minorities, and in the December class, minorities made up 42 percent of the 26 police recruits.
    Still, county Fire Chief John Hohman said he is happy with the progress.
    “[The fire department] has been working hard for years to reach out to qualified minorities and women,” Hohman said.  
    “Our efforts to build a more diverse workforce are paying off.”
    The fire recruits began their training on April 6 at the Fire-Rescue Academy in Sparrows Point.
    James Iman is a graduate of Sparrows Point High School and a Fort Howard resident.
    Not only is the 24-year-old one of those 35 percent of veterans in the class, he was selected as class leader.
    “I’m ultimately responsible. I’m the go-to-guy for the class,” Iman said.
    As a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps — and having eight Maryland state troopers in his family — he admitted that he is taking an unexpected path by choosing a career as a firefighter.
    Most military veterans join the police force, but Iman has his own reasons for wanting to be a firefighter.
    “I think some guys (in the military) have that mentality of taking care of the bad guy. Some guys like the weapon and other  guys are born to fight,” Iman said.
    “I experienced a lot of trauma in Afghanistan. I like going in to help people.”
    He credits the Baltimore County Fire Department for reaching out to him and other members of the military.
    “The fire department has done an excellent job. They kept telling us to apply, apply and apply,” Iman said.
    “It’s a fresh start. I know nothing about firefighting, but I’m looking forward to learning.”