Percentage of Los Angeles Female Firefighters Still Low

Female Firefighters

The number of female firefighters in Los Angeles is currently at 3.1%, up from 2.9% in 2013. Since that year, the total number of firefighter recruits has been 826, with only 61 women among them.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has stated that his goal is to bring that up to 5% by 2020. However, it appears that there might be a long road ahead of him.

It is certainly not for lack of trying. Recruitment efforts across the city have ramped up significantly. This Thursday, Mayor Garcetti and his wife, Amy Wakeland, will host a recruitment fair at their Getty House residence. Meanwhile, the Fire Department has designed a publicity campaign that includes promotional videos and campus visits.

Part of the problem is the physically intense training bootcamp. Between 2014 to 2016, 83% of men and only 57% of women were able to complete the training.

Another issue comes from the firefighter union itself. In 2014, Garcetti was forced to stop hiring at the department due to reports of nepotism and mismanagement. This year, an attempt to audit the union was stymied. Independent Assessor Sue Stengel was unable to obtain key documents related to hiring practices at the union. The union ultimately sent Stengel a cease-and-desist letter, preventing her from any further investigation.

Fire Commission President Delia Ibarra explained her reluctance to support Stengel. The Fire Department has been the target of many lawsuits and Ibarra did not want to invite another.

Retired firefighter d'Lisa Davies has her own opinion on the gender divide. She stated that women and other minorities constantly face discrimination in the department. Davies herself was paid $325,000 by the city after she filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Deputy Mayor Jeff Gorell is in charge of public safety and believes that while there's still a long way to go, they are making steady progress towards that 5% goal.