The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, March 7, approved a policy package intended to increase diversity in the county fire department, particularly regarding women and people of color.
The motion, introduced by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Holly Mitchell, was written in conjunction with firefighters’ union Local 1014, the Women’s Fire League and the Stentorians, which represents African American L.A. County firefighters.
“This motion is a roadmap for how we are going to hire more women and people of color in the L.A. County Fire Department,” Hahn said in a statement. “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.”
Said Mitchell: “It’s hard enough to have to fight a fire without their having to fight for belonging.”
County Fire Chief Anthony Marrone, recently promoted from acting chief, attended Tuesday’s meeting and said he “expected to learn much” from the proposed changes. Specifically, the motion directs the department to work with Local 1014 to adopt different written exams for firefighters and paramedics that are based on equity research and include recruitment and mentorship programs. The motion also directs the department to provide a plan to ensure that preparatory academies and programs conducted through the Women’s Fire League and Stentorians remain financially accessible.
In addition, it directs the department to create a labor-management Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee that will include members from underrepresented groups, including women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals.
“It is my hope that this motion reaffirms L.A. County Fire’s commitment to creating a pipeline of leadership that is diverse and inclusive,” said Mitchell.