Supervisors Move to Improve Diversity in Los Angeles County Fire Department

LOS ANGELES, CA (March 7, 2023) – Today, the LA County Board of Supervisors approved a comprehensive policy package by Board Chair Janice Hahn and co-authored by Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell to improve diversity in the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

“This motion is a roadmap for how we are going to hire more women and people of color in the LA County Fire Department,” said Chair Hahn. “That starts with breaking down barriers to becoming a firefighter, a paramedic, or a lifeguard, but also means addressing the reasons women and people of color leave the profession.”

“It is my hope that this motion reaffirms LA County Fire’s commitment to creating a pipeline of leadership that is diverse and inclusive,” said Supervisor Mitchell. “No one should have to fight fires and fight for belonging. The work of equity and diversity is not the sole responsibility of the Stentorians, the Women’s Fire League, or Los Bomberos, instead we all must commit to equity, and this is an important step towards that.”

The wide-ranging motion was written in conjunction with the fire fighters’ union Local 1014, the Women’s Fire League, and the Stentorians, the group which represents African American Los Angeles County fire fighters.

Equitable Hiring:

To ensure more women and people of color have equitable access to jobs within the fire department, the motion directs the Los Angeles County Fire Department to work with the fire fighters’ union Local 1014 to look at adopting a different written exam for firefighters and paramedics, called the Firefighter Candidate Testing Center, which is based in equity research and comes with embedded recruitment and mentorship programs for recruits. The motion also directs the Department to provide a plan to ensure preparatory academies and programs conducted through the Women’s Fire League and the Stentorians remain financially accessible.

Creating an Inclusive Workplace:

To ensure a more inclusive workplace, the motion directs the Los Angeles County Fire Department to create a Labor Management Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee which will include members from underrepresented groups – including women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals. This committee will provide input on hiring and promotional processes within the department.

The motion also directs the department to create training on cultural and implicit bias and explore creating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer within the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Benchmarks, Data, and Accountability:

To better understand the gaps in diversity within the Fire Department, the motion also asks for comprehensive data about gender and ethnicity among employees. Moving forward, the fire department will develop an annual report that includes race and gender demographic information at each stage of the hiring, promotion, and termination processes for County Fire Fighters and Lifeguards.

The department will also create an exit interview process for all applicants who rescind their applications as well as employees who choose to leave the department. The exit interview will include demographic data on the applicants and employees as well as their stated reason for withdrawal or their decision to leave the department.