Coverage of Fire Departments

Prior to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), while not non-existent, Federal assistance to fire departments was not large (the Revenue Sharing Act allowed for federal assistance to fire departments and had a significant nondiscrimination provision.  But that statute was repealed long ago.)  However after 9/11 and the creation of DHS, the Federal government is once again providing significant assistance to fire departments, see for example the March 21, 2007 Federal Register announcing grants for fire departments and nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations to enhance their ability to protect the health and safety of the public, as well as that of first-responder personnel, with respect to fire and fire-related hazards..

What is the significance of this for civil rights purposes?  Well, except for employment discrimination which is covered by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, discrimination of services offered by fire departments was not covered by Title VI or other grant related nondiscrimination statutes.  Thus, for example:
Now they do.  If for example, the Department of Homeland Security provides grants for fire departments to provide training and that training excludes women, one can complain to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

For example, for the grants announced on March 21st, that office should ensure that grantees have signed nondiscrimination assurances and have plans for services for LEP individuals.  You can check with the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to see if that has been done.

Under Executive Order 12250, the Attorney General through the Civil Rights Division reports annually to the President "through the Director of the Office of Management and Budget {OMB] on the progress in achieving the purposes of this Order. This report shall include any recommendations for changes in the implementation or enforcement of the nondiscrimination provisions of the laws covered by this Order." see Section 1-304, Executive Order 12250.   See what the Attorney General has to say about how DHS is doing.  These reports may be available for public inspection.  Check with the Civil Rights Division.  It doesn't hurt to ask.