The department’s other high-profile Latino is Deputy Chief Philip Cervantes, who presided over Friday’s swearing-in ceremonies in council chambers.
Toledo’s Fire and Rescue Department Department was once headed by Toledo’s new mayor Mike Bell – who was a strong advocate of diversity in hiring. This was the first Fire Class sworn in under the administration of Bell.
The class, which was assembled under Bell’s predecessor, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, had only two African-American males and five women—one of them an Asian-American— among its members. The balance (29) is comprised of white males.
Both Cervantes and Luis Santiago told La Prensa that they believed more Latinos will be in the next Fire Class. Cervantes said “several Latinos who were in the class initially may have failed one of the steps, but are still eligible for the next class. We’re always hoping we’ll get more (Latinos),” he said.
However, Cervantes agreed that there was an immediate need to get more members of the Latino community interested in a career, which has historically always held a great attraction for Latinos.
Chief Santiago stressed that the future tests would “encompass more people.”
Proudly speaking about his son, Santiago explained that: “Back when he was looking at getting into a profession, I sort of drove him to earn his paramedic certification. I knew it would make him more marketable and also stifle any sense of nepotism. And he made it on his own. He’s had his paramedic training for five years now.”
New firefighter Santiago is a graduate of St. Francis de Sales High School—like his father. He is married and the father of a seven-month old daughter.