Augusta fire chief makes policy changes for diversity; safety


AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – More than four months ago, Antonio Burden took over a department with major moral problems. He had his own controversies as well, now making policy changes that include mandatory training for firefighters. 

Training comes with the territory for Augusta firefighters but new required training for Augusta firefighters is entering new territory. 

Chief Antonio Burden says completing training on diversity, equity and inclusion will now be a requirement for city firefighters. 

“This training is really geared towards improving the departments emotional intelligence, as well as its cultural intelligence,” said Chief Burden.  

Last year the Augusta Professional Firefighters Association called on former Chief Chris James to be fired, because he was operating in bad faith. 

But now the association is supporting diversity training, calling it important to bring the department together.  

“Morale was at such a low point, we got to build our morale back up and getting on the same page, in the station and as a crew is big in getting back together,” said SGT. Philip Brigham, President of the Augusta Professional Firefighters Association.  

The association is also supporting another Burden policy change, and so are commissioners. 

This to allow firefighters on the scene, to make the call about forcibly entering a structure instead of having to wait on law enforcement as they did before. 

“He got on the job, and he did it. He changed that ordinance so now they can enter if they feel the need and they got the facts to enter they can enter,” said Commissioner John Clarke 

Now Burden is putting together a working group to review city fire department policies including fire officials from all over the state of Georgia, and Florida and even Arizona as well.

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