AFD Chief hopes to build trust, diversity through new LGBTQ liaison


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Fire Department has a new chief who is already shaking things up after just a month on the job.

Chief Joel Baker will appoint the department’s first-ever LGBTQ liaison — a move he hopes will send a strong message of inclusivity in and outside the department. He hopes the position will help with outreach efforts and setting up joint initiatives with LGBTQ organizations and the community.

He also hopes that it will build more trust with the community. “When we respond to someone who has a medical or fire call they know we are going to treat them just like we treat any other citizen,” he said. 

Chief Baker believes it’s imperative that Austin has an LGBTQ liaison at AFD because he is “looking at the diversity of the department and that’s part of the diversity program.”

This isn’t the first time Chief Baker has made outreach efforts with the LGBTQ community. “When I was the Fire Chief of The City of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, I appointed a member of the community internally to serve and we were able to accomplish a lot of things,” he said. “In Atlanta, we have a great relationship and communication with that community and I want to do that same thing here for the city of Austin.”

Recruitment at AFD will begin next month and Chief Baker hopes these efforts will help lure members of the LGBTQ community to apply. “Your sexual orientation has no impact on dragging a fire hose, starting CPR or fighting a fire,” he said. 

The Austin Fire Department is hiring and will begin taking applications from Feb. 4 to March 27. You can apply on their website. 

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