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LA. Fire Department Graduates 58 Recruits, First Class in 5 Years

Three recruit training classes are being planned for the upcoming year, according to fire officials.

The Los Angeles Fire Department today graduated 58 recruits who will represent the first group of firefighters to join the department in five years.

Budget cuts forced the agency to freeze hiring in 2009. The department began recruiting again last year.

Today's class of graduates—which includes no females—also may be the last of the recruits for some time, after Mayor Eric Garcetti halted firefighter recruitment in March. He called the process "fatally flawed" at the time, citing special workshops that seemed to only be promoted to cadets and relatives of fire department employees.

During the ceremony this morning in Panorama City, Garcetti said he has the backs of the department.

"This class if a very exciting one for me, because you are the first class to join a department that is now dedicated to the best data, the latest technology and constant assessment to creating a dynamic information-based approach that can cut our response times and improve our fire fighting capability," Garcetti said.

Interim Fire Chief James Featherstone said this group of recruits represents the future of the department.

"We are in a period of transition now, so they will be apart of the transition moving us forward," Featherstone told Video News West. "They are going to take us from good to great, and great to outstanding."

The interim chief added that the department used the hiring freeze period to enhance and make the training more contemporary, and to start to invest in ethics, leadership and team-building skills.

Garcetti has criticized the lack of diversity in the latest recruit class. The original 70 recruits who started the 20-week-long training was about 55 percent white and included four blacks, 21 Hispanics and seven Asians, according to the city's personnel figures.

The one woman in the original 70 was among the 12 recruits who dropped out before finishing training.

Some city leaders today noted the absence of women in the department's first graduating class in years, with Councilwoman Nury Martinez saying that she hopes things will change as a younger generation of girls are encouraged to join the department.

"I am confident, that you like myself, want to see little girls and your young daughters to dream of following in their father's footsteps," said Martinez, who is the only woman among Los Angeles's 18 elected officials.

The original group of 70 recruits also contained 13 sons and three nephews of firefighters, according to fire department figures.

Several graduates today received their badges from family members currently employed as Los Angeles city firefighters.

This group of recruits is the most physically fit and smartest in the history of the department, according to Featherstone. The department is made up of 3,215 sworn employees, according to a quarterly diversity report that came out April 16. The report showed there are 91 women firefighters in the department.

"To keep pace with the growth and complexity of this city, it is important that we have a vibrant and dynamic fire department," Featherstone said.

Garcetti said in March that recruitment could resume within the next year, following a three-month initial study by RAND Corp. into the department's hiring and recruitment practices.

Mayoral aide Vicki Curry said that RAND is nearly done with its review and is expected to report on its findings this summer.

RAND is expected to stay involved for another year to oversee the implementation of a new recruitment process.

Three recruit training classes are being planned for the upcoming year, according to fire officials.

—City News Service
Frank Estrada June 13, 2014 at 01:23 PM
Oh really more Firefighters..how about less?...Right behind the DWP, the LAFD is the biggest scam being perpetrated on the LA taxpayer....With advancments with building materials and prevention, the reality is that we can lay a few firefighters off..but the public unions in LA will see to it that we go bankrupt first.
Wes Blackwell June 13, 2014 at 09:58 PM
Before you open your mouth, you need to do more research. The LAFD provides all emergency medical care for the City, outside of emergency rooms. Those calls are higher than they have been in the history of LA. At least 1500 911 calls a day. And with the population of LA skyrocketing, LAFD is actually dangerously short in staffing to provide for the citizens. Stop being an ingrate and identify the real problem. Over half of LA citizens (mostly illegal aliens) don't pay taxes. And all those "advancements in construction" aren't in the residential structures which is where the majority of fires occur and is why we need more firemen.
Frank Estrada June 17, 2014 at 12:51 PM
Bull$%^

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