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L.A. Fire Department Halts Recruitment, Cancels Academy

Mayor Eric Garcetti enlisted Santa Monica-based think tank RAND Corp. to overhaul a hiring process that he called "fatally flawed."

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered an immediate stop to recruiting in the L.A. Fire Department. Patch file photo.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered an immediate stop to recruiting in the L.A. Fire Department. Patch file photo.

Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered an immediate stop today to the recruitment of firefighters, saying he has enlisted Santa Monica-based think tank RAND Corp. to overhaul a hiring process that he called "fatally flawed."

A scheduled fire academy class that was to include about 70 cadets will no longer be held and no more firefighters will be hired from the current civil service list for the next three months as RAND does a study of LAFD's recruitment process, Garcetti said.

"I have determined that the fire department's recruiting process is fatally flawed," he said.

The announcement was made after an analysis of recruit classes found a high percentage of the recruits consisted of people related to fire department staff.

An unusual selection process that required recruits to submit applications within the first minute following the opening of the submissions window period has also come under scrutiny.

"This problem may have been caused before I took office, but as mayor, I'm going to fix it," Garcetti said.

A professional standards investigation has also been ordered into the recruitment process, he said.

Garcetti said "the integrity of (the Los Angeles Fire Department's) recruitment process is vital to ensuring the department responds quickly, is technologically advanced, and reflects the city it serves in the future," he said.

"Our firefighters perform heroically every day, and I want to make sure that the next generation of firefighters upholds the levels excellence practiced by today's firefighters," he said.

Garcetti said he decided to halt the recruitment process after learning that fire department staff were holding special recruiting workshops for department insiders.

Interim Fire Chief James Featherstone said: "It's important to make sure the hiring process is fair and equitable ... I am confident in our ability to keep L.A. safe with our 3,300 current firefighters, who exemplify professionalism and excellence."

--City News Service

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