Los Angeles County will be actively working to improve diversity within the County Fire Department after a policy package was passed by the County Board of Supervisors.
The motion includes measures to ensure equitable hiring, create an inclusive workplace and establish benchmarks, data and accountability for its diversity initiatives. It was written in conjunction with the local firefighters union and groups which represent women and African Americans in the 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 Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice 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.”
Among the initiatives, the Fire Department has been directed to work with the California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee to draft a different exam for firefighters and paramedics that comes with mentorship programs and “embedded recruitment.” It also calls for firefighter training programs to remain financially accessible for underrepresented community members.
The Fire Department has also been directed to create a committee comprised of underrepresented groups to provide input on hiring and promotion practices in the Department, create training on cultural and implicit bias, and explore the possibility of hiring an inclusion officer.
The Board of Supervisors acknowledged that progress had been made in hiring more women as firefighters and lifeguards, but added that there was “more work to be done,” especially for women, Black, Latino and Asian/Pacific Islanders.
The Fire Department will also be required to keep data about gender and ethnicity among employees and develop an annual report regarding demographic information throughout each stage of the hiring, promotion and termination process.
An exit interview process will also be established for all employees who leave the department, or applicants who rescind their applications, to determine their demographic information and why they are no longer interested in being part of the Department.
“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 Holly Mitchell, co-author of the motion. “No one should have to fight fires and fight for belonging.”