On a lovely sunny day in Savannah, as cargo ships cruised the Savannah River and visitors walked the cobblestone streets, more than 170 fire chiefs attended a diversity, equity and inclusion training class. The training was during the Georgia Association of Fire Chief’s Executive Spring Training Conference. Freddie D. Broome, GMA’s director of equity and inclusion, presented “Emotional Intelligence: Creating an Inclusive Workplace by Embracing Emotions and Diversity.”
“The training session on diversity, equity and inclusion is beneficial for the fire service, especially in today’s ever-changing world,” said Waycross Fire Chief David Eddins, who serves as the Georgia Association of Fire Chief’s first vice president. “We become better because we value and welcome each other’s differences.” During the training, everyone participated in several exercises, from an emotional intelligence assessment to demonstrating the importance of equity. To demonstrate how difficult, it is to create inclusivity, the final exercise involved getting the participants up and dancing to “Whoomp! (There It Is).”
“When we identify our differences, it is easier to embrace equity and inclusion and celebrate differences,” Broome said.
First-year attendee Deputy Chief Latosha Clemons from the city of Forest Park enjoyed the emotional intelligence training.
“Emotional Intelligence creates a higher level of influence with how we view and value one another,” Clemons said.
Attendees received CEU’s for attending the classes.
Georgia Fire Academy Director Ike McConnell also attended the emotional intelligence class.
“The approach to the presentation easily led participants to discuss a topic that could be uncomfortable. The lesson on Emotional Intelligence vs. Cognitive Intelligence can assist fire service leaders in understanding how to manage their members,” said McConnell.
Another topic of discussion was the “Platinum Rule.” Broome expressed the importance of treating everyone the way they wish to be treated.
“The fire service has always provided challenges when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. This training is almost a requirement with today’s climate,” said St. Mary’s City Manager Robert Horton, who is also a former fire chief.
This story originally appeared in the May/June 2021 edition of Georgia’s Cities magazine.