New Internship Program Aims to Diversify Workforce at Madison Fire


Grant-Funded Opportunity Removes Barriers Toward Fire/EMS Careers

The Madison Fire Department announces a new internship program aimed at cultivating up-and-coming talent from communities historically underrepresented in the public safety workforce. The program was developed in partnership with the BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Fire Fighters Local 311.

The City of Madison Firefighter/EMT Development Program will begin accepting applications on Wednesday, March 13, 2024 with an expected start date in June 2024. Apply here. The department hopes to hire two interns per year for the duration of the grant-funded program. The internship is a comprehensive, full-time paid learning experience and career development pathway geared toward youth interested in firefighting and EMS as a career. 

Over the course of their two-year commitment to the program, interns will participate in the operational and administrative aspects of the Madison Fire Department. They will also earn an associate degree from Madison College. Upon completion of the program, successful participants will be qualified for placement on the Firefighter/EMT hiring eligibility list for the Madison Fire Department. 

The primary goal of the program is to diversify the public safety workforce. Several studies have demonstrated that more diverse medical teams give more accurate diagnoses, identify critical illness more effectively, have higher patient satisfaction scores, have improved partnership and communication with patients, and observe greater patient adherence to treatment regimens[1]. Through this initiative, the Madison Fire Department hopes to improve the recruitment of historically underrepresented groups in the Fire and EMS professions.

For each participant, the 40-hour work week will be comprised of:

  • 12 hours of class instruction and dedicated studying time
  • 12 hours of training, experience, and mentoring at fire stations
  • 12 hours of administrative internship work
  • 4 hours of shadowing experience with Madison Fire Department staff, throughout all aspects of the organization

The City of Madison Firefighter/EMT Development Program is intended to promote economic stability for its participants while opening the door to higher education. By providing a livable wage throughout the two-year program, participants are able to be better protected from the financial stressors that commonly limit an individual's capacity to advance toward degree completion. Most importantly, this program will help address systematic disparities in the public safety workforce, which are evident throughout the United States.

Interested candidates may apply for the internship from March 13, 2024 to March 27, 2024.

This project is funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Project collaborators include Dr. Michael Spigner, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, who serves as the program's academic partner, and Fire Fighters Local 311. 

1.  Gomez LE & Bernet P. Diversity improves performance and outcomes. J. Natl Med Assoc. 2019 Aug;111(4):383-392.

Dr. Michael Spigner, Fire Chief Chris Carbon, and members of the Madison Fire Department

Photo: Dr. Michael Spigner (left) and Fire Chief Chris Carbon (right) with members of Fire Fighters Local 311 and Madison Fire Department leadership who have collaborated on the development and/or oversight of the MFD Firefighter/EMT Development Program.

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