Rick Bartee

Tackling Racism and Hate with Acceptance & Understanding

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

A message from Roseville Fire Chief Rick Bartee:


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I shared a version of this message with our Roseville Fire Department last summer, following George Floyd’s death. Now as we begin Black History Month, our city staff asked me to share this message with our community. After some consideration, I agreed. As the city’s first Black fire chief and first Black firefighter, I feel a responsibility to do so.

After witnessing the violence and struggle that has occurred over the centuries for so many groups, it is staggering to try and understand why something that causes so much pain, hate, and anger continues to exist. Hate, racism, and bigotry are a systemic issue across the globe. Our history in the United States regarding discrimination is unacceptable. It must change.

40 years of service

In my close to 40 years of being in the Fire service I for one can attest to the struggles of many of these people through my personal first hand experiences of racism, discrimination, or bigotry while on-duty from inside and outside a much larger organization than I am in today. Speaking of them still stirs great emotion.

I cannot change the past, however, I will continue to shape the future.

In so many ways, as firefighters we are fortunate to play the role we do right now in society. We are helpers, we are protectors and we are professional problem solvers. As firefighters we are on the front lines during the most critical emergencies in communities.

When we put on a fire department uniform and come to work, we support each other and all of our community.

  • We demonstrate unyielding professionalism and personal accountability from everyone, in every aspect of our performance.
  • We treat each other and the public with dignity and respect. It is our diversity of strength that makes us so successful in serving the public. As written on the side of all of Roseville Fire apparatus, “Our Family Protecting Yours.” That is our mission.
  • Kindness, patience, compassion, and consideration go a long way to strengthening our ties to the community and to each other. People have long memories and we want to make those recollections positive.

Firefighting is an inherently dangerous job. Our role in society is to help, not harm. As firefighters we must support one another and a community that is hurting. We can only accomplish this through acceptance and understanding.

Roseville future unfolding

Our city’s future is unfolding in front of our very eyes. Let us do what we pledged when we put on the blue shirt and make things better. Let us do it for every individual in history who suffered from the terrible actions or words brought on by those who hate.

We will continue to stand together for each other and the community we serve, demonstrate our organizational philosophy in every interaction, and take care of each other.

My most profound hope is that real dialogue will result in true change. That change will not happen overnight and in the meantime, we have a job to do. We will do it best if we remain united.