OMAHA, Neb. — Historically, when it comes to minorities in fire service the numbers are low.
In an effort to improve those numbers, a group of Black firefighters meet with fire department hopefuls in a classroom setting to go over the process of what to expect in academy training.
"People in our community don't realize this is an opportunity for them. The biggest part of being a part of the organization is visibility, for kids to see this is an opportunity for them," said Jason Gentry of the Omaha Black Firefighters Association.
Numbers are increasing, says Gentry, with the help of their human resources department and support from Chief Olsen.
"We want to give people information on a job we love; we love being firefighters, we want to share that knowledge and get more people in our community to get involved," said John Farmer, President of the Omaha Black Firefighters Association.
The process to become a firefighter is intense and it can take anywhere from eight months up to two years.
"I didn't have any experience going into the fire community, so having that mentor helped me a lot," said firefighter, Brandyn Benning.
Along with classroom knowledge, they have to pass agility tests and have the skills to communicate effectively with the community.
"Once you are on the job, it is not about being a minority but it is about being a public servant; about being a service to the people that need us," continued Gentry.
The firefighters add that the best part of the job is just being able to do their job.
"Waking up every single day and going to my job — I love my job," added Benning.
Farmer said, "it's the best job I have ever had. I love it and I want to share that gift with others."
The recent firefighter academy graduating class was one of the largest, most diverse classes in department history.
For those who are interested, the Omaha Black Firefighters Association has a Facebook page and they encourage people to reach out: Omaha Black Firefighters