LA Fire Department Investigated For Hiring Practices - FOX 35 News Orlando

LA Fire Department Investigated For Hiring Practices

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(FOX 11/ CNS) - The city Fire Commission directed its official watchdog today to conduct an investigation into the way the Los Angeles Fire Department recruits and hires firefighters.

Commission President Delia Ibarra instructed newly appointed Independent Assessor Sue Stengel to perform an "analysis and audit" of the LAFD's recruitment and selection process, saying the move was at the direction of the mayor.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has criticized the department for the ethnic and gender make-up of the department's mostly white candidate pool. LAFD also came under fire for turning away thousands of qualified applicants who failed to turn in required paperwork within one minute and for possible nepotism, with 20 percent of the latest class of 70 firefighter recruits being relatives of department employees.

Garcetti said the problems began before he assumed office, but added that he would "fix it."

"I've brought in a new chief, appointed a new commission and now launched this investigation to make sure we reform the department and lower response times," he said.

Interim Fire Chief James Featherstone and other department staff are also expected to report back to the commission in May on the recruitment process, as well as present a set of short- and long-term changes.

Ibarra also addressed a long-anticipated report released Monday that recommended comprehensive changes to the management of the fire department."It contained some wide-ranging recommendations," she said. "Some of them will be controversial. Some of them are common sense."

The report by PA Consulting, which was hired to review the deployment of LAFD resources after concerns arose about the department's reporting of response times, found that the department suffers from a "cultural aversion to change and fear of litigation" and called for management of the department to be streamlined.

It recommended that the agency be divided into four geographic bureaus, its "cumbersome" disciplinary process overhauled and a five-year employment contract be given to the fire chief.

The report also recommends filling nearly 200 positions with civilian employees instead of sworn LAFD personnel.

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