LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Firefighters with the city of Los Angeles voiced criticism Tuesday of what they say is a broken recruiting process that has put public safety at risk.
Tony Gamboa, Vice President of United Firefighters Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Board of Fire Commissioners that men and women in the ranks of the Los Angeles Fire Department are being punished in the wake of an announcement last month by Mayor Eric Garcetti to halt to what he called a “fatally flawed” recruiting process.
KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports commissioners heard from union officials about the impact on personnel while the city determines how it wants to recruit and hire firefighters.
“There’s no way to sugar-coat it, our firefighters and paramedics are being forced to work dangerously long overtime hours,” Gamboa said. “Because of mistakes that have been made, our firefighters in the field and the communities that we serve will pay the price.”
According to the mayor’s office, Garcetti announced the move after discovering that LAFD staff organized special recruiting workshops for LAFD insiders, including a disproportionate amount of recruits related to LAFD staff — some of whom were related to senior managers with oversight over the recruitment and training process.
Officials are currently in talks with the RAND Corporation to determine a new recruiting and hiring process — which will then undergo an initial three-month review — but it was unclear when that process will be in place.
Until then, Gamboa said the LAFD, which hasn’t hired a new firefighter in the field in nearly six years, faces a staffing shortage that must be addressed.
“I’m here to say loudly and clearly, we need additional bodies in the field,” he told commissioners. “Firefighters in the field are tired and public safety has been compromised.”
Earlier in March, Garcetti and the Fire Commission ordered an independent investigation into the department’s recruiting and hiring process following comments from the mayor criticizing the ethnic and gender make-up of the LAFD’s mostly white candidate pool.