Fire service lacks ethnic minorities

25th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

25 January 2005, BRUSSELS – A Belgian MP has accused the Brussels fire brigade of failing to recruit enough from ethnic minorities.

25 January 2005

BRUSSELS – A Belgian MP has accused the Brussels fire brigade of failing to recruit enough from ethnic minorities.

Although the Fire and Medical Brigade (Siamu) has been praised for its high level of service, Socialist politician Rachid Madrane criticised the lack of fire fighters from ethnic minorities.

"Its time for this to change," Madrane told the Belgian parliament, complaining that this amounted to discrimination.

According to Madrane's statistics only two out of the 978 operational fire fighters in the city have an immigrant background.

His accusations prompted a war of statistics with Employment Minister Benoit Cerexhe, who countered that 20 out of 24 administrative and technical staff were foreign nationals.

This figure was only 19, argued Madrane, adding that 14 of these were technicians and worked in the kitchen, as drivers or electricians.

None of this group were statutory employees, he said.

In his defence, Cerexhe said that until 2002 only Belgian and EU citizens were allowed to be statutory
and that since then there had been no new recruitments.

Cerexhe said that he wished to increase the number of Brussels dwellers in general during the next recruitment drive for the fire brigade.

A diversity charter, to encourage non-discriminatory policies, will also be presented to public and private companies in March.

Madrane also criticised the distance travelled by some fire fighters coming from Arlon or Ostend to Brussels.

This breaches the rules, which say personnel should not live more than 20 km away.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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