Markham Fire, Humber College team up to promote diversity

·3 min read

For all black, Indigenous, and racialized students seeking to enter firefighting profession, here comes a great opportunity.

Markham Fire and Emergency Services (MFES) and Humber College have entered a unique agreement aimed at enhancing inclusion, while reducing participation barriers for minority Markham students who wish to build a career in firefighting.

This agreement creates a complete package of scholarships, equipment, supports for training and certification, summer job placements and mentorship to prime students for success.

Humber will offer eight scholarships, two each for four school terms, for students to study for a two-year Fire Services diploma followed by a one-year Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training program. While MFES will provide the students’ equipment, pay for their DZ vehicle license and Ontario Fire Administration Inc. (OFAI) certification.

During the school term, each student will be paired with a current MFES staff member providing mentorship and keep them connected to the fire service. Students will also be offered summer employment in the administration office to learn other areas of the fire service and to build relationships.

Scholarship students who successfully complete their schooling and certification will be offered a job interview with MFES. And more importantly, successful candidates will be offered employment as a Markham firefighter.

Please note that scholarship applicants must live, work or attend school in Markham and identify as Black, Indigenous, and racialized.

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti praised MFES’s efforts to champion the city’s rich diversity. “This exciting agreement with Humber College allows us to work together to increase access to the MFES for racialized groups while providing quality training and mentorship to students,” he said.

“MFES has gradually worked to build a service with one of the highest percentages of racialized and female firefighters in Ontario,” said Markham chief administrative officer Andy Taylor, adding that “We are now taking the next step, to extend our efforts and reduce participation barriers for racialized communities so they can succeed with MFES and in their careers as firefighters.”

To mark this occasion, MFES is also donating a fire truck and equipment that is at the end of its life to the program.

Fire Chief Adam Grant hopes that this innovative and progressive program will motivate other businesses and organizations to take similar steps to increase representation in the workplace.

Lisa-Joy Facey, president of Markham African Caribbean Canadian Association, is confident that this initiative has the potential to be truly transformational for the community.

“It is my hope that the recipients of this program will embrace this opportunity and in turn play an active role in making sure their communities thrive.”

Amanda Baskwill welcomes scholarships like these, as they will help the program attract more students who resemble the communities where they will work. The associate dean, Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellness at Humber College, noted that a more inclusive fire service improves a team's innovation and problem-solving abilities because of the different perspectives and experiences each individual brings.

In consultation with these identified communities via various community partners and groups, MFES has selected the first two scholarship recipients for the Sept. 2021 intake.

The next intake for the 2022 to 2023 school year will be made in Feb. 2022, with more information to follow on the City’s website at

Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun

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