This is a puzzling problem* seen throughout the country. Blacks have been very successful in the military. You would think they'd be as good a fit in municipal fire departments. There are a number of blackfirechiefs nation wide, but departments consistently have trouble with black rank-and-file recruitment.
In my own department race relations are a mixed bag, though probably more positive than in most departments or other organizations. I've worked (fought fire and made EMS responses) with some outstanding black firefighters and paramedics through the years. We have blacks in our command staff (no black fire chief yet; though a likely future candidate is African American) and a black union president. Race relations in the stations is generally good, with some strange examples of self-segregation at specific stations.
Blacks in the fire service, and race relations within departments, are important topics that I intend to blog more about in the future.
* If relatively few blacks are interested in fire service careers, is that really a problem? Not sure. There are very few Asians in the fire service, but you don't see newspapers running hand-wringing stories about that.