Also, I don't know about paid departments, but from the sound of it they are very much like volunteer departments in this regard. People who join the firefighting service tend to know people who already do it. My dad has been a firefighter for years; his neighbor convinced him to join. I joined with a friend. It sounds more like who did and did not join the department did so because of personal connections (not calling it nepotism, just greater familiarity with and support from people in the department) not racial lines.