LOCAL L.A. Now

1 in 5 recruits in LAFD class are relatives of firefighters

One in five recruits in a new Los Angeles Fire Department training class are related to firefighters working at the agency, according to figures released Thursday evening.

Of the 70 recruits hired for the class now in training, 13 are sons of firefighters and three are nephews, according to figures obtained by The Times from the department.

A spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti said an investigation would be launched to determine how 22% of the class ended up being relatives of LAFD members.

"We are going to get to the bottom of this," spokesman Yusef Robb said. "This needs to be fully investigated."

The Times reported Thursday that thousands of firefighter candidates were disqualified last April from being considered for inclusion in the class because they failed to submit a key piece of paperwork in a 60-second period.

Applicants who passed a written exam were told that they could submit certificates showing they completed a physical fitness test starting at 8 a.m. April 22. After a crush of thousands of certificates poured in, Personnel Department managers said they decided to winnow down their review of potential recruits to those who had filed the form in the first minute.

The screening process is drawing fire from candidates who said they were unfairly passed over and city officials, including the interim LAFD Chief James G. Featherstone.

"This recruitment process was in place prior to the current chief's arrival and is wholly unacceptable to him," Featherstone spokesman Peter Sanders said.

Critics and applicants who didn’t submit their physical exam records quickly enough said qualified people, including some with paramedic and firefighting experience, were arbitrarily and unfairly passed over.

Richard Rodriguez said he was working as a paramedic for a private ambulance service in Riverside County on April 22 and was ready to send his physical agility test certification via email from a computer at his station. But shortly before 8 a.m., he said, he had to respond to a emergency medical call and didn’t return until about an hour later. He submitted his exam record then, but failed to land an interview.

"I’ve tried to do everything to perfect myself for the job," Rodriguez, 25, said Thursday. "It was a total bummer."

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robert.lopez@latimes.com
Twitter: @LAJourno

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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