Seattle Firefighters Must Learn Critical Race Theory Before Promotion to Top Job

Firefighters in Seattle seeking promotion to the rank of fire lieutenant are now obligated to familiarize themselves with a curriculum drawn from social justice proponents and literature endorsing far-left, progressive viewpoints.


The Washington Free Beacon uncovered how tests for the role of fire lieutenant, administered by the Seattle Department of Human Resources (SDHR), involve books from a number of leading figures in the progressive movement, including Ibram X. Kendi, an influential author in the realm of the notorious critical race theory (CRT).

To ascertain the competency of candidates, most departments require a written examination, usually in a multiple-choice format, for potential lieutenants. Aspirants must achieve a score above a certain threshold to be eligible for the position, with higher scores boosting their chances of advancement.

The examination typically includes a broad range of subjects from building construction to medical procedures, and is structured to guarantee that those entrusted with making critical decisions possess the fundamental knowledge necessary to make informed decisions.

However, the Beacon notes that firefighters “were surprised when their department’s lieutenant exam focused almost as much on social justice as on firefighting.”

To prepare for the SDHR fire lieutenant examination, candidates are required to study a selection of books known to promote divisive ideas such as Critical Race Theory and transgender ideology. This includes Kendi’s complete work, “How to be an Antiracist,” inclusive of its introduction and acknowledgment.


Aspiring lieutenants are also examined on the complete work of “Both Sides of the Fire Lane: Memoirs of a Transgender Firefighter” by Bobbie Scopa, as well as an 800-page memoir, “A Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias and Fighting Fire,” penned by a female firefighter.

The assessment of progressive concepts extends beyond the upper echelons of the firehouse. Fireboat engineers in Seattle are also required to study Robin DiAngelo’s book “Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education,” as well as review material discussing the “structural interplay between all oppressions.”

“This stuff has nothing to do with firefighting,” Wayne Johnson, a retired Seattle firefighter who previously devised some of the department’s competency tests, told the Free Beacon. “It has everything to do with social engineering.”

The examination forms part of a broader initiative aimed at fostering diversity in a department that purportedly is lacking in it. Last year, Seattle fire chief Harold Scoggins bemoaned how his department is composed “overwhelmingly” of white men.

However, critics point out that the tests have shifted the promotion process’s focus from merit to ideological alignment, thereby introducing politics into a public service sector where proficiency could mean the difference between life and death.


In 2021, local authorities, including Scoggins, ordered a study into “Strategies For Increasing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion In Fire and Emergency services,” with the report eventually making the bizarre recommendation that tests should not “significantly rely on knowledge of firefighting.”

“[T]ests that focus on how well applicants know the system and the job tend to favor those who make up the overwhelming majority of the fire service workforce, white men,” the report read. “Questions that ask more about the candidate’s character and values, rather than knowing the ins and outs of the job, can be beneficial in advancing more women and people of color.”


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